Zune 80


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Alan-

The Zune 80 was released on November 13, 2007. I had this item preordered as I've had not the best luck with iPods (3 of them, all battery issues even after replaced batteries) and wished to have a digital music player, however due to the want of this product and short supply I only just got it on the 26th of November. Read whole review or scoll right to the bottom for quick list of pros and cons!

What is a Zune?

I've found that quite a few people do not know what a Zune is. A Zune is a portable media device (much like the iPod Video) which is made by Microsoft. Some of it's "iPod Killer" features are things such as a 3.2 inch screen (The iPod Classic's only being 2.5) and an FM Radio, while keeping a size that is very similar to the iPod (Zune is a little bit larger than the iPod Classic). The Zune has it's own music store software as well.

Unboxing + Setup

I opened my box from Amazon.com to find a very small box. From previously purchasing iPods, I expected a much larger box. The zune box opens from the bottom and you slide the top off, then you find a flip up cover which you flip up to show you your Zune. Directly under the Zune is your manual. To get to the USB Cord (which is very iPod like) and headphones you must pull this next flip up part out. The Zune 80 does not include a CD with it, so you must have an internet connection to go and download the Zune Music Software. When I installed it, I had bunches of issues while other people had none. Eventually I had to turn on the Windows Firewall for it to install. After that, I simply connected it via USB and it recognized it and had me set up my Zune. You assign what you want to sync and a name for your Zune plus a "Zune Tag" which when using the "share" feature is how others will see that it's you.

Overall, it was a fairly smooth setup and it took about 30 minutes to sync 2,728 songs. Nice speeds.

Zune Marketplace

Great, I love it. I have a subscription based thing where I can download an UNLIMITED (yes really) of music and transfer to my Zune for a flat rate of $15/mo. The music store selection has just about everything you want, although there will be some things that you are unable to find. The player part isn't too bad, although no "Mini-mode". To be honest it's kind of ugly, although I'm just not a huge fan of this type of art either. easy to use.

Using the Zune

My first reaction is "Man this is cool!" You will notice many similar things to an iPod, such as the back of the Zune which gives you that shiny metal look, however it is NOT fingerprint-prone! I thought that was great as I remember my iPods becoming dirty with fingerprints on the back. Also, the control pad or unofficially "Squircle" has both touch and button functions. You can move your finger over the control pad and get it into a self scrolling thing or scroll by yourself. If you'd rather press stuff down, you can do that on the pad too. To go back you press the back button indicated by an Arrow, then of course there is a play/pause button.

With the Main Menu, you have choice of music, videos, pictures, social, radio, podcasts, and settings. The only one you may scratch your head at there is "social" which is an inbox for things people have sent to you.

-Music

The music player on this isn't too shabby. From the top you see what grouping you are in (songs, artists, genres, albums, and playlists). The very first item on there is "Shuffle All" which lets you shuffle the songs. Selecting a song isn't hard, so lets say I want easy access to all songs and I happen to want to listen to "Feel Good Inc." I'd go to songs by using the left/right buttons then I'd touch in a scrollingish fashion or press down and watch song titles flyby in a list. If you get going fast enough on the left side the letter of song titles appears. So I scroll down to "F" and find "Feel Good Inc." I press the center (be sure to press center or it usually will scroll one way or the other) and it brings you to another screen. Here now the songs are selected by left/right and you see 3 options as well as the album the song is on (with album art at the top) and the artist. Your choices are: Play, Add to Quick List, and Send. So I press play and it takes me to the now playing screen. The album art takes up about 2/3 of the screen with right under it being the progress in the song. Under that it goes Title then Album then Artist on the left side. On the right side, you have your battery indicator, a playing indicator, and if you have shuffle on or not. The battery and playing indicator (which is either a triangle or pause sign) are always located in the bottom right corner. Volume goes from 0 to 20 and is accessed by scrolling up/down. scrolling left/right changes your song or fasts forward it.

This is really a pretty nice player with I would say better than iPod sound quality. I do get annoyed that I must go through an extra screen (the one with the 3 choices) to select a song. 99% of the time I am not going to be sending it anywhere and I rarely use playlist functions. Scrolling through can get tiredsome if you have lots of music as the auto-scrollish thing doesn't activate always. Overall I liked it a lot.

-Videos

The selecting of videos is just like music, except you have little screenshots or something (like YouTube) of the video. When you select a video it takes you to a screen with more info about the video such as a description, date made, and how long it is, plus a thing that says "play". For widescreen, you turn your Zune 90 degrees counter-clockwise and many videos play like that. The touch pad switches as well so it keeps the same controls, only turned that 90 degrees. Also, when you leave a video it remembers your spot and if you come back it says "Resume" or "Play from Beginning" instead of just the "play" we saw earlier.

Video playback is very nice on this device, I feel like I could actually watch something on this screen, although it is a little small for my preference (in terms of videos).

-Pictures

The pictures are divided into folders which are displayed in grids. You also have the choice to play them in a slideshow or send the photo. Once a photo is selected it displays it, and if you press the center of the control pad options come up (much the way options for photos on the PSP looks). You can zoom in, shuffle the photos, apply it as a background, send it, or end the slideshow. Bright pictures do best for backgrounds as when you go to choose songs and whatnot it darkens so you can more easilly read the text.

Picture quality is decent, the constant switching from widescreen mode to regular is annoying when not looking at photos in order.

-Social

I don't know anyone with a Zune nearby so I can not comment on this feature as I have not used it.

-Radio

I love the radio, nice quality too. You get the name of the station and song name as well as genre. The Zune then (after one cycle of kinda it scrolling through the song name) displays it below, which is very nice. Seek function is best to use with the radio and best to keep on as it assures you have a good signal from that station to provide you with all the song details and whatnot. To toggle the options, go to any station and press the center of the pad and it lets you turn seek on/off and lets you set the station you are on to a preset.

The radio is really great, it is a nice connection between radio and what you see on an MP3 player, so you still feel like you are on a player even though it's the radio. If your station isn't picked up by seek don't try to listen to it, not worth it.

-Podcasts

Haven't used it yet so I can not comment on this feature.

-Settings

You have a menu that comes up with: Wireless, Display, music, pictures, soungs, touch, radio, language, and about. Zunes have 3 languages, English, French, and Spanish. Radio options are "North America, Europe, and Japan". Touch means the touch part of the control pad, if it bothers you turn it off and use it in a more physical way. Sounds is like the same as the iPod's "Clicker". For pictures you can set transition time as well as if you want to shuffle your viewing of photos. For music, you can set shuffle settings, repeat settings, and settings for when using the "artist" part where it's either song and album or just album only. Display lets you set backlight, brightness, activate TV out, and background. For background it tells you to go find a picture in "pictures" and select "apply as background." TV out sets it to TV out mode and to get out of it you must turn off/on your Zune. Wireless lets you turn on wireless, sync wirelessly now, information about your Zune's wireless stuff, and presence which is basic or current song.

There are no audio modes (like rock, jazz, big bass, etc) however the default does a very nice job of working all these in.

Overall

Overall, this is a real competitor to the iPod, I like it better and we'll see how it holds up for a year.

-Pros-

-Audio quality

-You can set your own backgrounds

-Wireless sync

-Fast syncing speeds (wired)

-Nice large display

-Easy to navigate

-No fingerprinted back

-Not glossy plastic (feels more durable)

-Volume settings

-Audio playback

-Zune Marketplace

-Radio

-Controls, and scrolling.

-Cons-

-Picture mode is annoying to look through

-Must go through a screen before letting the song play

-No extras (like games or stopwatch or whatever)

-Sometimes "center of the control pad" is missed and therefore you end up not selecting the song you wanted

-A lot of what was on the Zune told me where to go to do various functions (like background setting) instead of taking me there or letting me choose and it was confusing at points

-Had to update firmware to use

-Zune Marketplace's initial installation problems (shouldn't be bad for all but was for me)

-"Premium Headphones" don't seem to always fit right in my ears which I suppose could be my own problem but they felt awkward from the get-go.

-Settings feel a little bit limited

I will add updates as time goes on.

UPDATE (11.30.07)

My Zune suffers from a bug in the new Firmware which keeps it from entering a true "sleep mode" even though it appears to. So, if you buy one (for now) be cautious that you may have to charge it like every day. On the plus side, it truly has somewhere between 22 and 30 hours of battery life. From what I've read, this is only affecting the "sleep mode" or "Hibernate mode" Suggestions from the Zune forum is just to turn it off by pressing BACK + DOWN buttons and then use it like that. Guess we have to wait for an update :s

UPDATE (12.1.07)

Pictures! Here are various pictures of the Zune, I will add more after my camera's battery charges.

Zune Box Next To Water Bottle (To Show Size)

Unboxing 1

Unboxing 2

Main Menu

Sync Screen

Shiny and Fingerprint Free Back!

Edited by MrEggsalad
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RadishTM

Cool, thanks for the review. Hoping to get a Zune soon as well.

Radish?

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CrimsonRedMk

Haha thanks for the review, I know you've been wanting this since the release...dosen't sound too bad!

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htwho

I would get one but I don't need 80GB. I wish the 30GB version had the same screen and capabilities. :(

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red.

Nice review. What's the battery life like? I heard it's not great which is one of the things that is putting me off. However i like the bigger screen and FM radio option.

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Cavalyr

i have a zune30GB. and i do like it. i dont mind it. got all my music and like 5 movies on there and it is not even half full. screen is big enough for me with great sound. good luck getting yours.

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MightyJordan

There is a trick to playing a song without going through the third screen. Just go down to the song you want as usual, but instead of pressing the centre button, press the play button. It will play it straight away! If you've got something playing at the time though, it will just pause the song, but press play again, and you'll get the new song!

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+Frank B.

Good review. Like others I'm interested in what the battery life is like. A few pictures wouldn't hurt either.

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WelshBluebird

I really want one of these, but I really cba with importing one (and the Zune pass thing doesn't work outside of the US). So come on MS, release it outside of america!

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NateB1
There is a trick to playing a song without going through the third screen. Just go down to the song you want as usual, but instead of pressing the centre button, press the play button. It will play it straight away! If you've got something playing at the time though, it will just pause the song, but press play again, and you'll get the new song!

Beat me to it! I discovered this feature by accident and have been using it ever since. You can press "Play" in the album view to immediately play the entire album, in the playlist view it plays the playlist, and in artist, it plays the songs by the artist. It's quite useful.

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Tuffgong4

I would have one right now if Circuit City would just get them in stock. I want one of these so bad. Thanks for the review!!

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NeoXY

iPod owner here...

Want a Zune. (Apart from the fact that it might not work so well with my MBP :/)

Honestly? Its not a bad looking player at all. (Hardware AND software)

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Dogan

Great review! But a few pictures would make it even better :)

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Alan-

Thanks for the tips about bypassing that one screen! And I'll get pictures up either tonight or tomorrow.

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sweetsam

I bought a 30 GB Zune this thanksgiving and I am loving it ! but not before running in to initial hiccups. I tried using the front USB port on my desktop and it just did not like it. The software couldn't see zune connected although charging seemed to work. But once I connected to the USB port on the back everything worked smoothly. I did not use the software that came on the cd. Instead I found a link to the latest version and got it installed directly. Zune was instantly recognized and the firmware was updated. Things have been smooth from then on. Great sound quality excellent volume and browsing through is a breeze. In short I am loving it !

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Gamerhomie

I have been checking the Zune Originals website everyday for the past two weeks to see if the 80GB would be in and to my surprise, it came in today! I'll order one soon.

I have a question though. I wanted to know about the Marketplace. You pay a subscription of $15/month for as much music as you want to download DRM free? So the music will actually be able to be played elsewhere besides the Zune?

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Alan-
I have been checking the Zune Originals website everyday for the past two weeks to see if the 80GB would be in and to my surprise, it came in today! I'll order one soon.

I have a question though. I wanted to know about the Marketplace. You pay a subscription of $15/month for as much music as you want to download DRM free? So the music will actually be able to be played elsewhere besides the Zune?

The $15/mo is a subscription fee meaning you have to keep paying to listen to it. Marketplace does offer some songs to be downloaded for like the $1 a song or whatever that are DRM free.

And in terms of battery life, so far I've seen 30 hours as literally you plug it in, charge it, and 30 hours later you need to recharge. That means "sleep mode" as well, so I'm going to check and see if it's just an issue on my end or what. I'm thinking it's got to be an issue on my end because if that is truely the real battery life, well that's just plain crappy.

Apparently it seems to be an issue with some Zunes (Link Here To Forums)

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Doli

I read on Yahoo that these new Zunes (and old ones) are selling really well. I want a player that can let me add streaming radio stations, there is one (cant remember the name) but it only works with yahoo's music service and I want to use free radio stations like BBC radio.

Man a Zune SDK would make me buy one right now.

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Redestium

I'm so tempted to get one for mostly car usage, but I'm really hesitant that it might be a dud purchase. I do like the Zune software quite a bit though so maybe that's a good sign.

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FreqFace
The $15/mo is a subscription fee meaning you have to keep paying to listen to it. Marketplace does offer some songs to be downloaded for like the $1 a song or whatever that are DRM free. (Link Here To Forums)

You mean if you stopped paying, or for some reason the service disappeared, none of your music will work anymore? That sucks. Hard. I wouldn't use a subscription based service for that very reason alone. :no: I like to know my music is mine once I've paid for it, that's why I love CD's. I'll only ever download DRM free music, and none of this 128kbps rubbish.

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spenser.d

I wanted a Zune to replace my iPod Mini...then Apple came out with the iPod Touch and all was lost for my Zune plans.

As far as subscription based services, I wouldn't mind them...if I could pay like $50/year for it rather than $180... :p

-Spenser

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bolix

Hey, didn't microsoft promise games for the Zune like a couple of months after its release?

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vraev

honestly I hope zune succeeds. I freaking hate apple. They have no dedication to their customers. I have a 30 GB ipod video. Now its horrible that they don't want to give their old customers updated firmware and features like split menu, search etc. Look at microsoft...they updated all those old zunes to current versions with a firmware. I am soo regretting why I didn't wait an extra yr and gotten a zune instead. :(

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