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Latest Zune Reviews

This compilation of reviews (no matter whether they are good, bad, or indifferent) of Microsoft’s Zune was last updated on October 3, 2007. The reviews are listed in reverse chronological order with a brief snippet and link to the original.


Zune 2 Reviews


Mark McClusky, Wired, October 3, 2007

Overall, it seems like a good package for PC users who haven’t invested in any other system. Certainly, I don’t think that the new hardware will become the butt of as many jokes as version one — they’re much nicer looking units, and the user experience of the software seems good. Plus, if you’re into social networking, it could be a great way to find new music.


All reviews below are for the orginal Zune


Will Head, The Register, February 6, 2007

The Zune is a very good debut with great features, such as the large screen for video and the wireless music-sharing capability. It’s also reasonably priced compared to its fruit-branded rival. It still has some way to go, though, if it wants to take a significant amount of market share away from the iPod: the restrictions on shared music need to be relaxed and build quality could be improved.


Tamara Chuang, Orange County Register, December 19, 2006

I was disappointed Microsoft didn’t take everything that works for iPod and build on it. As one reader on my blog pointed out, people with large music libraries who like to take every song with them can’t even consider the 30-GB Zune.

But a lot of what Zune lacks – larger storage, podcast/video store, wireless PC transfer – can be added later by Microsoft.

The Zune has a radio, Zune to Zune Wi-Fi transfer and a big screen – all features that make it stand out from the iPod.

If you want to be different from the rest, this will serve its purpose. If you’re into photography, I’d recommend this over the iPod because of the nice screen. But if you’re comfortable with your iPod, I’d wait to see what Microsoft has in store for Zune’s future.


Leander Kahney, Wired News, December 17, 2006

Microsoft’s Zune is a slick piece of hardware. It’s a worthy competitor to the iPod that surpasses its rival in some surprising ways, like the interface, which is drop-dead fantastic.

The Zune is taking a good kicking in the press, but the criticism — especially from the Mac web — seems knee-jerk and defensive.

It’s not perfect, but the Zune is a well-designed and well-made alternative to the iPod. It’s got a big, beautiful screen; built-in Wi-Fi for peer-to-peer song sharing (I didn’t actually try this — no other Zuners around); and supports a subscription music service.

I even like the brown color. Don’t laugh, it actually looks pretty cool — a welcome alternative to the iPod’s relentless white and black, which is starting to get old.

I’ve been playing with a Zune for a couple of weeks, and I like it. I like it a lot.


Ed Oswald, BetaNews, December 8, 2006

I cannot in good faith recommend this product in its current form to anyone also considering an iPod. Those averse to Apple products and looking for a new Windows-only player should definitely consider the Zune, but understand there are quite a few kinks Microsoft has left to work out. All in all, the Zune is a disappointment. A moral victory for Microsoft, yes. An iPod killer? Absolutely not.


Paul Thurrott, WindowsITPro, November 27, 2006

Overall, the Zune is absolutely decent. It’s got a nice, large screen, a simple menu system, and intuitive controls. It gets good battery life, and does provide the most basic functionality that most people expect. It is, in other words, completely average. But since you can buy a lighter, nicer-looking, and more capable iPod for exactly the same amount of money, and can find other iPod models that meet different needs at different price points, you should almost certainly avoid the first generation Zune. It just comes with too many compromises.


Jason Cross, ExtremeTech, November 20, 2006

The Zune is a contender, but one that looks like it was obviously rushed to market to make a holiday release. The good news is that there is nothing wrong with the Zune device or PC player that can’t be fixed in software. The bad news is, there’s a lot of software fixin’ that needs happen. If Microsoft sticks to an extremely aggressive software update release, it can turn the Zune into a killer product. If they wait for months to make modest improvements and limp out a handful of new Zune players next year, they’ll toss money down a bottomless pit and implode under the ever-expanding iPod market.

Take a wait-and-see approach with the Zune, unless you’re convinced Microsoft will quickly make the updates that turn the Zune into what you desire. But keep your eye on Zune developments, because this could be the Next Big Thing with just a few well-executed software and service updates.


Lisa Gade, MobileTechReview, November 17, 2006

We didn’t expect to be at all impressed by Microsoft’s first effort at an iPod competitor. Boy, were we pleasantly surprised! The device is well made (OK, that we expected), is packaged very austerely and attractively (shocker) and is superbly easy to use (pick us up off the floor). It’s fun to use, easy to use and sounds great. Finding your tunes and playing them is quick and painless, creating playlists is no problem and the desktop software really rocks. Video playback is very good, though you’ll have to roll your own content since the Marketplace has none so far. Overall, an excellent first attempt at jumping into a mature market.


David DeJean, InformationWeek, November 15, 2006

Microsoft’s effort to grab a piece of the media player market is just about what you’d expect from Microsoft: strong software, weak design, slightly awkward but bound to get better over time. The FM radio and the bright, sharp video are real plusses.


Eric Dahl, PC World, November 14, 2006

So far, the Zune looks like a solid addition to the MP3 player market. It’s a nice-looking player and appears to be a decent value. At this point, we’re still hard at work putting the Zune through its paces. We’ll be back with some updates and a full PCW Rating once we’ve had a chance to complete our battery-life tests and dig a little deeper into the player’s wireless features.


James Kim, CNET Reviews, November 14, 2006

Overall, the Zune is a well-designed portable media device with good playback performance, a snappy processor, and an excellent interface. Wi-Fi sharing worked well, but prospective owners should know its format support, especially for videos, is limited. The Zune looks like a good fit for MP3 player novices, though we hope Microsoft addresses issues and will make the Zune usable as a hard drive; extend video support to include DRM (which they probably will do when its own video store opens); and open up a true Wi-Fi network. The foundation looks good, though, and those not interested in version 1 of Zune can look forward to improved versions 2, 3, and beyond.


Michael Gartenberg, Jupiter Research, November 14, 2006

Bottom line? The Zune team delivered. Zune is an excellent music player and handles pictures as well as video content as well. What’s missing? Well, there’s no podcast support in the Zune client, which needs to be addressed and of course, no video content in Zune marketplace just yet. Both could easily be fixed by Microsoft. In terms of accessories, while there isn’t the legion of stuff available for iPod, there’s enough stuff out there to keep most users happy for the time being. As for the iPod? If you’ve got an investment in iPod stuff (like speaker docks, car kits, cases and the like) you’re not likely going to be swayed by Zune for now. If you’re in the market to buy something new, the 30gb iPod is still going to be the better bet (with podcast support, TV shows, Movies, Games, better form factor and accessory choices and all the cachet that comes with the iPod) But, if for some reason the iPod isn’t the device for you, then picking up a Zune should be a no-brainer. Over the next two years, I expect to see the Zune story mature, with more device choices and support for more content types. There’s no doubt that Zune is going to be a “player” in this space.


Steven Levy, Newsweek, November 11, 2006

The verdict on the first Zune? Credible in many ways, but half-baked in others. Overall, not nearly compelling enough to stop you from visiting one of the Apple retail stores this season. Expect many more sleepless nights in Redmond.


Walter Mossberg, Wall Street Journal, November 9, 2006

Zune has several nice features the iPod lacks: a larger screen, the ability to exchange songs with other Zunes wirelessly and a built-in FM radio. It solves the worst problem that plagued earlier Microsoft-based music players — frequent failures to synchronize properly music and videos between the players and personal computers. Synchronization on the Zune is smooth and sure.

Also, the Zune player and software have a very good user interface, different from, but in some cases easier to use than, the iPod’s. While it lacks the famous iPod scroll wheel, instead using a common four-way navigation pad, I found song lists easy to navigate on the Zune. It has only a few buttons and is quite intuitive to use. To my ears, it sounded as good as the iPod.

But, this first Zune has too many compromises and missing features to be as good a choice as the iPod for most users. The hardware feels rushed and incomplete. It is 60% larger and 17% heavier than the comparable iPod. It has much worse battery life for music than the iPod or than Microsoft claims — at least two hours less than the iPod’s, in my tests. Despite the larger screen, many album covers look worse than they do on the iPod. And you can’t share music libraries between computers like you can with iTunes.

Overall, the iPod and iTunes are still the champs. Still, I expect the Zune to attract some converts and to get better with time. And this kind of competition from a big company with deep pockets and lots of talent is good for consumers in the long run.


David Pogue, New York Times, November 9, 2006

Competition is good and all. But what, exactly, is the point of the Zune? It seems like an awful lot of duplication — in a bigger, heavier form with fewer features — just to indulge Microsoft’s “we want some o’ that” envy. Wireless sharing is the one big new idea — and if the public seems to respond, Apple could always add that to the iPod.

Then again, this is all standard Microsoft procedure. Version 1.0 of Microsoft Anything is stripped-down and derivative, but it’s followed by several years of slow but relentless refinement and marketing. Already, Microsoft says that new Zune features, models and accessories are in the pipeline.

For now, though, this game is for watching, not playing. It may be quite a while before brown is the new white.


Stephen H. Wildstrom, Business Week, November 9, 2006

The $249 Zune player is an attractive design, available in black, brown, or white. It has 30 gigabytes of storage and is about 1/4-in. longer and thicker than the similarly priced 30-gb iPod. But it makes good use of the extra bulk with its substantially bigger 3-in. display. It also has an FM radio. And while the controls lack the elegant minimalism of iPod’s scroll wheel they are well designed and efficient. I had some difficulty installing the software—which requires Windows XP Service Pack 2—and getting the player to sync. But I was testing a preproduction version of the program; the problems should be fixed by the Nov. 14 launch.

The big problem with the Marketplace is what isn’t there. Zune is a much better video player than the iPod, but there are no movies or TV shows for sale, and won’t be until Microsoft works out agreements with the studios and networks. Zune can play podcasts, but you can’t subscribe to or download them through the Marketplace.

Maybe I am underestimating the desire of people, especially those of the MySpace generation, to share music by a more high-tech method than passing earbuds back and forth. If I’m not, Microsoft’s only hope may be to top iTunes’ menu of video offerings before Apple comes out with an enhanced video iPod, which could happen as soon as January. It looks like it’s going to be a bumpy ride.


Lance Ulanoff, PC Magazine, November 8, 2006

This is the most promising iPod competitor we’ve ever seen from Microsoft and could be a digital music player that gives the whole industry a run for its money.

From a purely subjective perspective, the Microsoft Zune achieved something that precious few portable music players have done before: It made me want it. I really wanted to take one home and play with it for hours. The Zune’s release is not only Microsoft’s best shot at the iPod, it could be the best one, period.


Edward C. Baig, USA Today, November 8, 2006

Zune shows promise. But I’d like to see more offerings in the store, and less stringent wireless restrictions. And Microsoft should rethink the silly points system. For now, I’m sticking with iPod.


Ryan Block, Engadget, November 3, 2006

Generally the software seemed very responsive, especially search. This may have had to do with the fact that the Zune software stores an index of every artist, album, and track on your hard drive for faster access (don’t worry, they say it’s minuscule, which we’ve got our doubts about), as well as all the images you pull up while browsing.

As for the hardware, again, we’ll reserve judgment here and let you see for yourself in our forthcoming Zune video. There isn’t much we can say at this point about the crippled functionality of the wireless, but if you haven’t already come to terms with what features the Zune is and isn’t launching with, then you might want to try and look at it for its merits as a player (while ignoring the wireless) — or simply keep looking for another device.


Jason Chen, Gizmodo, November 3, 2006

Overall, this seems pretty promising. I can’t find any mis-steps or anything where I have to ask “wait, this is dumb, why did you do this?” in both the player and the software. The Zune itself is very sexy, and feels nice to the touch—not too heavy. We can’t wait to do another hands on as the launch date approaches. Oh, and I still can’t decide which color is my favorite.