I've been reading a lot of news on the Zune lately, but I haven't weighed in on my experience yet.
NOTE: I don't work on the Zune team, and this is my personal experience with the Zune... So your mileage may vary.
Just a couple weeks ago, I turned 38 years old. 38 years old. If I write it down a few more times, maybe it'll sink in more. ;-) 38 years old ... 38 years old ...
Anyway, my wife, Kris, bought me a Zune for my birthday.
While unboxing it I noticed that the packaging was top notch. It's not my first DAP, as I've tried several other players over time: iPod, Sandisk, Rio, even a Jam and Intel player from quite a long time ago. The Zune packaging definitely rivaled that of the iPod (which our family has 3 of -- one for me, one for Kris, and one for Zac). So, on the packaging front I'd say it's basically a tie between iPod Zune.
The device itself is incredibly usable. The menu structure is superb. I think it's a lot more intuitive than the iPod. I love the twist interface. I also like the scrolling via the scroll-wheel-that's-not-a-scroll-wheel on the Zune. Winner of the device itself is clearly the Zune, IMO.
On the PC software, I was pleased that the UI was so easy to use. I had read about some problems people had installing it, but I didn't have any problems at all. Searching for music is easy, AND fast. Just type in part of band name, and BAM there are the results on the screen. Trying out music, or downloading it is simple and straight forward. I love the Zune Pass. I've been using it constantly since I got it. The Zune Marketplace doesn't yet have TV shows or Movies, but I bet that's coming soon. Winner of the software is a close call. It's either a tie, or a slight edge to Zune.
If you don't have a Zune yet, you should definitely get one and try it out. The speed at which Microsoft built Zune shows that Microsoft can really do an amazing job in a short period of time. We may not have leapfrogged the competition, but we've certainly closed the gap.
I can't wait to see what's in store for Zune in the next 12 months. If the Zune team can go from nothing to this in the less than a year, users probably can't even guess what's up for the next 12 months. Including me... Stay tuned for the future...
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