What I’m not going to do in this review is mention the word ‘iPod-killer’ because in the past that has seemed to be pretty bad for business! I will say this though”¦before the Zune 3.0 update, the choice between a Zune or an iPod was essentially being made by those who would avoid an iPod at all costs, just for the sake of non-conformity.
As of the Zune 3.0 update however the Zune has become a fantastic product, enough so that I actually went and bought one myself, a 120 gigabyte Zune I ordered from America and got sent here to Australia. The whole thing has seriously impressed me and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the product for anyone looking to replace their MP3 player.
Before I do however I would suggest that if you are not a US citizen, you download the International Zune Hack for the software. This will allow you to access all the features and sign up for Zune Social using your Live ID.
The Zune software often flies under the radar compared to rival Apple’s iTunes and it’s a shame because it’s one of Microsoft’s most impressive offerings and stands out from just about every media software I’ve previously used.
It looks great, functions great and performs decently. I would stress however that this software isn’t for meta-data geeks, of anyone who likes to fully customise every aspect of their listening habits and library. However it does provide a great experience as long as you don’t expect it to function in the same way as other media software.
Music Visualisations and “˜Now Playing’
Maybe I speak for myself here, but for years I never saw the point of visualisations. What exactly were they for? If I have my media player up on the screen it’s because I’m browsing my music library, not staring at the pretty shapes and colours while a song plays.
Anyway perhaps with this in mind the Zune 3.0 update provides a great way to show visualisations, down at the bottom of the main screen as you can see from the screenshot. To really appreciate it you’ll have to download and try it for yourself, it looks great trust me.
The ‘Now Playing’ screen is even better, rather than just a larger version of the visualisation seen above there is a full screen display of ever-changing album covers which looks fantastic. In fact when I’m not using the computer for anything else I often just leave it up while my music plays.
It gets even better though.
If you’re connected to an internet connection and you have the ‘Now Playing’ screen up than you’ll get a new kind of display for many popular artists which will look like the following displaying pictures, text and animations related to the band:
This new feature is designed to help you get involved in the Zune Social, discover new bands and find out more information concerning bands you already know.
Before getting my Zune, podcasts never really interested me, but the Zune software provides an easy way to subscribe so I got into listening to them. In the Marketplace you can find hundreds of podcasts with more being added all the time, although sometimes it can take a long time to get a podcast submitted and accepted.
These are just a few of the features of the Zune software. I would definitely recommend downloading it and giving it a try. There is so much I haven’t mentioned here. Do you use it and if so, what do you like about it?