Monday, December 21, 2009

Zune HD Review

I got a Zune HD for my birthday. It is a fun device.

Previously I had been using a Sansa View and a Nokia n800 Internet Tablet for viewing media. The Zune falls somewhere in-between these. It has similar dimensions to the Sansa and can do a lot more than the Sansa but it isn't up to the Nokia. The Nokia has a larger screen and more applications. On the other hand, it is too large to carry easily and the battery life is too short.

The Zune is incredibly small and light and the battery life is rated similar to the View - up to 33 hours of music or 8+ hours of video.

Like other Zunes, the HD supports WiFi. It can use this for wireless syncing and it comes with a web browser. The browser is slow and automatically switches to mobile pages where available. It does not support Flash so you cannot watch Youtube on it. Besides Flash, I would also like to see an email application on the Zune. It does support a Zune-only messageboard. It also has an app that supports Twitter.

There are several apps available. The Zune Marketplace has some, both general and games. All are free but the games have ads that play when they start.

Microsoft has released a game developer kit and people have already used this to create some freeware. The best part about this is that it is not as tightly controlled as the iTunes store.

Microsoft has a special program for communicating with the Zune. This will automatically sync content or allow you to drag and drop. Personally, I prefer the directory model where I can move files directly into the Zune's directories.

As a media player, the Zune is easy to use. The touch screen makes navigation easy. I have a wide selection of videos I've saved from YouTube or ripped from DVDs. All of them played without any problems, even a couple that always caused my Sansa View to hang up for unknown reasons. The display is sharp and there is no sign of choppiness, even when playing a movie I had ripped for my netbook.

It is a long-standing rule of thumb that it takes Microsoft at least three releases before they get a product right. That puts the Zune right on schedule.

Update: I found a major limitation in the Zune's implementation of WiFi and the browser. Most hotspots redirect the first page to a form where you either log in or at least agree to their terms of service. The Zune will not connect with these. It just gives an error and tries connecting again. It does not connect with WiFi that requires a security key, either. The only place that it can connect is to a completely open WiFi. That makes it useless as a mobile browser since almost all hotspots have a redirected opening page. I hop that Microsoft issues a fix for this.

1 comment:

nintendo dsi r4 said...

The Zune HD delivers one of the best portable music and video experiences money can buy. At a time when many people have shifted their focus to games and applications, providing a killer media experience may not be enough for potential Zune buyers.