Seeing the Zune close up


So today I got to try out the Zune first hand. Grand Valley alum Eric Maino stopped by campus today to give a recruiting talk and brought along two Zunes for people to check out. Honestly, I’m impressed.

Now my initial reaction to the news of the Zune was one of disinterest. Yes, I’ve got an iPod, and yes, I’ve ordered a R2H UMPC. So to me the Zune is just another entertainment device.

Actually getting the device in my hands I was impressed. The device weighs about the same as an iPod however the body of the Zune has a slightly rubberized feel to it. My first impressions were that yes, it does slightly resemble an iPod in that is has the circular buttons for manipulating their menuing system. Other than that, I think I’ll say it stands on it’s own. It has a fantastically crisp and clear screen. The pictures do not do this screen justice. I will say that I cannot critique the sound quality as I’ll leave that to the listener. I had my PC speakers hooked up to the device, and later my iPod headphones. I’d say the quality is on par with the iPod, however once again that could matter on the media, bit rate, file size, etc.

The navigation is a bit tricky. Well maybe not but I’m used to the “spinning” of the iPod, the Zune uses directional clicking to navigate the menu options. This took a bit getting used to, however I do like the fact that the “back” button, as well as “play/pause” is separate from the directional buttons.

The user interface is clear and easy to see. There is also a vibrant background image, however the image doesn’t hinder the menu’s contrast at all. Video playback on the device seemed rather clean, without any noticable skipping or frame rate problems. I’m also going to assume that this may vary depending upon file size, bit rate, etc.

I will say the Zune beats the pants off of the iPod in one feature, the radio. The Zune offers a radio function which allows a user to scroll across the radio frequencies. When the user is dialed into a strong radio signal the screen shows the call numbers of the station and also the type of music the station plays. This was amazing!

Now my roommate Brad over at BigRed’sPlace will also be blogging about his thoughts on the Zune, but overall I will say that because I’ve ordered a UMPC and I’ve got an iPod I don’t think the Zune is for me. However if you are looking into purchasing a portable entertainment device, I’d say this is worth looking into.

Note: I’ve got a few more pictures of the device at my flickr account. Also the device has wireless, however I didn’t get a chance to try that out, so I can’t comment on it.

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