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While some might not have liked the original Zunes size, interface, and double shot design, the original Microsoft Zune definitely gave us a glimpse of things to come from Microsoft. New to the gadget market, Microsoft has learned a great deal from the mistakes they made on the original Zune. With a slimmer size, cost, and a sleek new design carrying 80gb of music, podcasts, photos and videos, the Zune 80 looks like serious competition to the iPod Classic, or anything else out on the market.
• 80 gigabytes (GB)
• Size: 61.1 mm x 108.2 mm x 12.9 mm (w x h x d)
• Weight: 4.5 ounces (128 grams)
• Music, up to 30 hours (wireless off); video, up to 4 hours
• Charge Time: 3 hours; 2 hours to 90 percent
• Size: 3.2-inch color display
• Resolution: 320 pixels x 240 pixels
Price 248.85 @ Amazon
In the box you'll find yourself with both a pleasant surprise and a major disappointment. “Premium earbuds” are included, yet there is no pouch to be found within the package. They assume the new glass screen and aluminum body is scratch resistant, because to not include a $1 pouch seems ridiculous. If you don't feel like pushing your luck with your new purchase, I suggest snagging an Invisible shield, Agent 18 Dragon, ZuneOne.net Crystal Case, or if you like leather cases (ugh), you can pick up the Microsoft branded leather flip case.
The Premium earbuds that Microsoft “kindly” included look unique, with a cloth cord, matching silver and black, and decent cable length. In fact, if you're not an audiophile, you'll be more than satisfied with the included earbuds. However, if you're picky, or even decently acquainted with sound equipment you'll be annoyed. I'm pretty sure it's that they chose cloth instead of rubber for the earbud cables, as you can clearly hear the hard-drive moving through the earbuds, and trust me, when you use another set of earbuds or headphones you won't be able to hear the clicking or thrashing noises. The earbuds also seem to pick up a decent amount of static during songs. As for audio quality itself, these are pretty decent at mid-range volumes, but at louder volumes the song layers start muddying together producing a really disappointing listening experience. In all honesty, as much as I hate to name drop, I'd sell your Premium earbuds to a friend for $20 and then pick up some Skullcandy Smoking Buds Ink'd Earbuds for $15 at your local music store or off of Amazon. Once you break them in, your Zune will sound absolutely amazing. Unless you've already got yourself a pair of $150 isolating earbuds, which in that case, just ignore my advice.
The only other things in the box are the installation CD and a cable, you'll need to connect your Zune and install the software if you want to actually use your device, or else you'll be greeted with a message on your Zune telling you to plug it in.
The device itself is very sleek looking, with a nice matte black finish on the front and a smooth metal backing, unlike an iPod, this won't get smudged, and is nearly impossible to scratch. Seriously, the glass screen and the matte / metal deflect scratches nearly completely. I installed my Crystal Case from ZuneOne and stupidly screwed in the belt clip while the Zune was snugly inside of the case. I took the case off and saw a giant metal scratch ring, with various small scratches around it. Then I simply wet my finger and rubbed the scratch, and voilą, the scratch and other little blemishes completely disappeared. A friend of mine accidentally chucked his Zune into his pocket with his spare change and car keys. He took it out and merely rubbed the glass screen and the backing of his Zune, and the scratches came out. I'm not sure what sort of dark-magic is at work, but the Zune handles daily damage very well. One thing I'd look out for is the “Squircle” unlike the rest of the device, this scratches and blemishes very easily. This is why I'd suggest trying to find a pouch or a silicone cover of some sort, some thin strips of tape might even suffice and still leave you with a functioning Squircle (it works through my jeans, shirt pocket, jacket pocket, etc).
The device also seems somewhat fragile and as such I'd still be very careful with the Zune 80, and I'm sure dropping it out of a car, or off of a building wouldn't be the best of ideas. Don't push it, dark-magic can only go so far in saving your devices.
After you finish admiring your brand new device, and have installed the software and updated everything. You will then be greeted with the Zune software. The first thing I'd suggest doing is going to start ---> run ---> services.msc and then setting Zune Bus, Zune Network, and Zune Wireless to “Manual” start. This will help free up resources and enable the Zune software only when you really need it. Skip this step if you plan on using WiFi sync (why?). After you do this you're free to begin updating your media location information and synchronizing your device, which unless you have under 80 gigabtes of music, I'd also set to manual. The Zune software is both a curse and a gift, and I could most likely do an entire review on the software alone. While I'm not going to, I'll tell you to look out for a couple of things and hope Microsoft fixes them. Very poor playlist management, (see my article on how to bypass the playlist restrictions). No built in conversion software for media files or video files, and no .flac / .ogg support. The software isn't as bad as most people have made it out to be, but it's no where near as user friendly as iTunes. Consider it somewhere in-between Sony's Media Software (oh god) and iTunes. Which puts it at about tolerable level for consumers.
Once you've finally got the software all worked out and have gotten all your tunes transferred and have deleted the Avril Lavigne videos (we can only hope) that Microsoft kindly included, you'll be ready to play with your Zune 80. The interface is really slick and the Squircle doubles as both a manual scrolling pad, and a touchpad, ala the iPod, making navigating through large song lists a breeze. If you've owned a Gigabeat you'll feel right at home with this interface as you'll notice similarities, such as the scrolling letters, which make finding a specific song easy. There's also a built in radio which I find myself using more than actually listening to my own music or videos. You can wirelessly share music with people near you (I'd say about 40 seconds for an average song transfer), and you can even see what a friend in the room next to you is listening to. Unfortunately, they removed the software EQ and dynamic playlists from the current Zune software, however they plan on adding games to the Zune 80, which hopefully will makeup for the loss in software features. Even though most audiophiles might want to steer clear of the Zune for those two reasons alone.
The video feature is incredible, when you click into video and select what you want to watch, the Zune screen then flips sideways to accommodate the video. While the video playback is clear, you'll notice a bit of a “screen-door” effect that the pixels on the screen create. And unfortunately, due to the glass screen watching video on this outside during a sunny day is nearly impossible. The battery life is also pretty decent, I got around three and a half hours while watching video, and could go through about two days without having to charge my Zune when listening to just music.
If you're looking for a competitively priced device, that's NOT an iPod, and currently has the most features out for any device in it's class, pick up the Zune 80 as soon as possible or even a Zune 30 with it's revised software. However, if you're looking for something that's not complicated and works on both Macs and PCs, unfortunately you're going to have to pickup an iPod or a Creative player.
Features (Radio, WiFi)
Scratch Proof (Unless our luck changes)
They didn't do enough with the WiFi (Buy songs? Internet?)
Missing an EQ
At times feels flimsy
Screen is too reflective
Compatibility (Mac? Linux?)
I like the Zune. Personally i hate Macs. I don't when someone is calling me or cursing the Macs in Bisho's lab for freezing. My name is Max by the way. I hope i win one of these Zunes because i really want one and i don't have the money to buy one.
Last edited by maxkat (6/27/08 12:36 AM)