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Microsoft Zune 8GB Review




Having had several mp3 players (an iPod Video 30GB, a Nano, an iPod Touch and a Red Zune) for sometime now, I find myself using the Zune more often than the others. Let me share with you some things about the Microsoft Zune and why I think it’s a good replacement for the venerable Apple iPod.

The Zune 8GB has the same form factor as the first generation iPod Nano (I think this form factor is best fit for the Nano too). Being the first personal mp3 player to come out of Microsoft, the Zune 8GB was designed to directly compete with the largest selling model of iPods.

red zune 8gb
At 1.4 ounces (47 grams), it weighs a little less than any iPod Nano generation. The main difference in the navigation is that while we’re all familiar with the click-wheel, the Zune has a touch pad which allows navigation by sliding in both horizontal or vertical directions as well as click-selection (you can turn the slide pad feature off if you want via the settings).

red zune 8gb
There are two compelling features the Zune has that the Classic iPods do not have — WiFi (for wireless synchronization) and an FM radio tuner. You can synchronize the music collection in your PC/laptop with your Zune via WiFi so you don’t need to bring the cable connectors all the time except when charging. The Social feature also allows you to share (their term is “squirt”) music to anyone who has a Zune, wirelessly up to 30 meters. Having an FM tuner is also a plus, a feature I wondered why Steve Jobs would not add in the iPods. You need to turn off WiFi when not in use so it doesn’t drain the Zune’s batteries.

zune 8gb
The Zune Desktop Media player is simple yet does the job well. Since it allowed me to register and create a Zune account (unlike iTunes which is still not available in the Philippines), I was able to login and pull down all the official album art covers of my music into the player. iTunes’ cover flow might be superior but it really looks dull to look at when all you see are gray default album covers. Sound quality is at par (almost indistinguishable) with the iPod Nano, with volume scale from 1 to 20. The good thing about the music management is that you just tell the Zune Desktop player which drive folder to use and anything you drop into that folder gets detected and synchronized into your Zune player on your next synch.

zune vs ipod
At 320 x 240 pixels, the screen size is just enough though I wish they’d use up all that extra space. Music and video playback is smooth and crisp.

For $20 less than the price of an 8GB iPod Nano ($199), the Zune 8GB ($179.99) gets you the best bang for your buck, plus a couple more features.



Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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41 Responses

  1. mojics says:

    is there any place can buy this Zune via Paypal to Philippines?

    if you know one I’m interested to get one..

  2. BrianB says:

    What astounds me is how iPod could survive, much less be successful, without Bluetooth or any form of wireless sync.

  3. jhay says:

    If I could spare the money, I’d go for the Zune as well.

    But I’m really saving up now for a new rig in preparation for Diablo 3! lol

  4. Jeffrey says:

    A positive review for the MS Zune. Should enough to worry the “other” media player fanatics.

  5. ernesto says:

    Nice i love the back!

  6. Jan Alvin says:

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  7. CC Lozano says:

    Indeed, a cheaper alternative to iPod, add the radio and WIFI, might convince those looking for a 2nd MP3 player.

  8. BrianB says:

    I suggest you guys wait for Creative’s Zen X-Fi. Hope that IM-enabled player is cheap.

  9. eat1ng says:

    “Sound quality is at par (almost indistinguishable) with the iPod Nano, with volume scale from 1 to 20”

    Does this mean sound quality of zune also sucks?

    Sound quality of ipods is regarded inferior compared to that of Sony, Creative, and Cowon. I bet cowon D2’s sound will make you feel listening to FM radio (quality sound) when using Ipods. Read more in iaudiophile.net and anythingbutipod.com forums for more anti-ipod comments. hehe

    Peace.

  10. yuga says:

    I’m not familiar with that of Creative or Sony mp3 players so I cannot make any comparison. When comparing sound quality, I usually hook the players into an external speaker (I use an Altec Lansing 321) and listen to them at various volume levels.

    My observation is that the sound quality is factored by the quality of the earphones that came along with it rather than the audio chipset of the mp3 player. And yes, the earphones of the iPod generally sucks.

  11. eat1ng says:

    Your method is ok, but i think using only one earphone is better (as sound may be reflected through…aah, whatever). Using my cheap Sony MDR-D66, I can distinguish sound quality of Ipod, Sony, and D2.. So i guess using quality, out-of-my-budget earphones such as those from shure or sennheiser will support my claim.

    Anyway, out of topic na ata ako.

    This zune looks good. Would you know if it can play divx/xvid files with resolution greater than 320×240?

    Automatic download of album art? Cool. MP3tag is a useful tool, but automatic download is better. Thanks for the info, abe.

  12. Lindt Dale says:

    Hey Yuga,

    Finally, someone besides me appreciated Zune…. I have 2 Zunes right now, both the 30gb models(the old ones) I love my zunes very much….I love their new software (version 2.5)
    Anyways, I’m planning to get a new 80gb zune….

    Yuga, I have a question, do you hold a yugatech meet ups? I was really hoping to see you guys soon…. and talk a lot of gadgets…. hehehe

  13. Lyle, RN says:

    I am in the Philippines and I can automatically download album art from iTunes. :p

    I like Apple products but I gotta say that the iPod sucks at the wireless arena.

    I hope Apple rolls out support for A2DP profile(bluetooth wireless music streaming)in their upcoming firmware update for the iPhone.

  14. yuga says:

    @eat1ng – I don’t think it support DivX/XVid. Only WMV, H.264 and MPEG-4 but up to 720×576.

    @Lindt Dale – used to do meet-ups a year ago but don’t have much time lately (last one was December 2007 Beer Party). Will notify you when I organize one this year.

    @Lyle – yeah, i bought a wireless FM Transmitter for my iPod and it sucks even if it’s already so close to my car stereo.

  15. Mojics says:

    Guys can you tell me where to buy this one.. I already looked on Tipidpc pero walang Brand new and sa Ebay.ph…

  16. yuga says:

    Mojics, they say some units are available in Virra Mall, Greenhills. You just ahve to look a little harder among the shops there.

  17. Mojics says:

    wahhh.. okay i will look for that it’s hassle to get on ebay and tipidpc better to have warranty..

  18. Rom says:

    nice review there yuga, I myself own a zune30 and it really is a good device, much better than iPod imho. I have both.

    Just wish they would go international so we could have more accessories…

  19. jhoeforth says:

    @Yuga
    Nice review, I’m from the Philippines and I have a Zune 80. About the Divx support, there’s a hack for the Zune software that will allow you it to read DivX files.

    http://www.zunescene.com/zune-divx/

    @BrianB
    Microsoft has launched XNA 3.0 Framework that allow developers to create games and apps for Zune. An IM app for Zune is now available (though in very early phase), you can check it out here:

    http://www.zuneboards.com/editorials/developers-developers-developers.html

  20. I have a black Zune 30 gb, just upgraded to ver. 2.5, I love it, but the problem is I can’t get accessories here locally. Any idea where can I find them?

  21. bem says:

    nice to read about other zune users here! I have an 80gb zune w/c i bought last xmas, and it’s really great. a lot of the people who dislike the zune haven’t actually used one, but when you do it’s very nice. i’ve had ipods before and i do like my zune much much better. i also got it (at that time) for only around 10k, which is a great deal and everything.

    i hope the zune userbase here in the philippines will increase so that they will release it outside US and Canada and make more accessories. :)

  22. tonti says:

    more importantly, where do you get your zunes? :s

  23. dwight alcantara says:

    I have a black zune I got it in a raffle.I am working in a call center and that is my account, I am certified zune technician. I got my zune before microsoft released it in north america.
    I have problem with my zune, its that back button its hard to press but I still like it, one good thing about the zune is that you can send musics, videos and pictures to other zune users and you can also see other zune users playing.

  24. dj_demonyito says:

    i love to have this also. any updates on the availability here in PHL?

  25. dixie says:

    hey got a zune 80g but i can’t find the charger anywhere. any suggestion where i can buy it here in the philippines? and perhaps trusty screen protectors too?

  26. Paulyn says:

    Where can I buy a Zune in the Philippines?

  27. cris_skywalker says:

    is zune already available here in the philippines?
    where can i buy one?

  28. ruthie says:

    Try our site: http://zpilipinas.blogspot.com :) Just reselling a few! Thanks hehe

  29. ai says:

    My zune review is nice, my red color is beautiful and my fun music

  30. cj says:

    the review made me think twice if buying an ipod again… aside from greenhills, does anyone know kung saan pa pwede bumili ng zune? my bad experoence na kasi ako greenhills eh

  31. srinivas says:

    see, yuga.. this is SRINIVAS frm INDIA, i got Zune 80gb black frm my friend.. but i lost my charger and its cable..now my friend is living in some where.. so will u please guide me how to get Zunescene 80gb chareger…in or from other place….please……becas know its just like with out brain…

  32. rObytot says:

    @srinivas

    dude internet is everything… you can look at ebay I think I saw some zune accessories ther..

  33. Paul says:

    I love ZUNE! Ive got the 80Gb zune and I never did regret choosing it over Ipod… but now with the ZUNE HD… I think it will be a better upgrade, time to buy? I wish you could review it before I’ll buy… Anyway it’s really cheaper to buy at US… more power Yugatech

  34. bot says:

    you have spent enouch money for your gadget, why not spend a little more to maximize its capabilities, try your mp3 players with any of the following branded earphones and/or speakers and you will be amazed with the sound quality you’ve been missing:
    bose in-hear headphone &
    audioengine a2 desktop speaker system.

  35. Manfish says:

    i might be 16 but itunes is kinda complicated to understand unlike the zune software. go zunes!

  36. Isa says:

    Zune goes around the World. Cool!
    I enjoyed your review. Just did the same with the 16 gb version some days ago and found out, that it is absolutely a severe alternative to an ipod.

  37. I own an iPod but the Zuna sounds pretty cool and iTunes can be a drag sometimes.
    I am curious…

  38. karl says:

    padaan lang ;)

  39. November says:

    Thanks designed for sharing such a nice thinking,
    paragraph is fastidious, thats why i have read it entirely

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