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Go Back   Thoughts Media Forums > ZUNE THOUGHTS > Zune Talk

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  #1  
Old 11-15-2007, 07:00 PM
Adam Krebs
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Default With Great Reviews Come Great Responsibility

There's been a lot going on in Zune-land over the past few days. We've had everything from the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.zunethoughts.com/news/show/23172/and-we-re-official.html">launch</a> of the new <a href="http://www.zunethoughts.com/news/show/23463/zune-v2-walkthrough-video-part-1.html" target="_blank">devices</a>, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.zunethoughts.com/news/show/23466/zune-30-firmware-update-old-is-made-new.html">firmware</a>, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.zunethoughts.com/news/show/23462/zune-v2-desktop-software-first-sync-experience.html">software</a>, and <a href="http://www.zunethoughts.com/news/show/23370/zune-accessories-announced.html">accessories</a>, to their respective <a href="http://www.zunethoughts.com/news/show/23457/zune-v2-unboxing-video.html">unboxing</a>, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.zunethoughts.com/news/show/23458/zune-v2-first-impressions-video.html">first-looks</a>, and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.zunethoughts.com/news/show/23478/zunerama-reviews-of-the-zune-80-and-zune-8.html">reviews</a>. Sounds pretty much like last year, right? The difference is that this year, the reviews are generally positive, with few gripes that didn't exist a year ago. Maybe it has something to do with the Zune fans.<br /><br />When Engadget's Ryan Block wrote a somewhat negative &quot;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.engadget.com/2007/11/13/new-zune-review-better-than-before-but-not-quite-good-enough/">review</a>&quot; of the new Zunes, Zune defenders came out in droves to pen over 120 comments criticizing Ryan's conclusions, website, and even his mother (okay, that last comment was written in jest&mdash;mostly.) The biggest reason for complaint, though, and why I placed &quot;review&quot; in quotes just a sentence ago is that he didn't so much detail his experience with the device or software as make a laundry list of reasons why Zune won't beat the iPod. In such reviews comparison to the competition is inevitable, but not at the level that Mr. Block chose.<br /><br />He quickly wrote a <a target="_blank" href="http://www.engadget.com/2007/11/14/zune-people-we-hear-you-expect-more-coverage-soon/">follow-up</a> defending his Zune club-member status, and claiming he'd been a supporter of the Zune initiative since day one (he also pointed to Engadget's iPhone and iPod reviews as evidence that they aren't Mac fanbois, but it was no use). Block's Engadget colleague, Thomas Ricker, <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2007/11/14/mossbergs-new-zune-review-sounds-familiar/" target="_blank">tried to validate</a> the arguments vetted in the infamous review by claiming gadget king Walt Mossberg <a target="_blank" href="http://solution.allthingsd.com/20071114/singing-a-new-zune/">made the same argument</a>&mdash;again, no dice. Mocking the Zune's brown color and people like Steven &quot;Microsoft Zune&quot; Smith, Engadget consistently decried the Zune's inferiority and how it would never surpass the iPod. Granted, it wasn't as bad as Gizmodo or ZD-Net's coverage, but they both have since published positive reviews of the Gen2 device. My how times change.<br /><br />I believe one of the biggest reasons for the shift, besides the actual merit the Zune team itself earned, was due to the Zune's increasing fan base. Tech blogs aren't typically known as bastions of journalistic integrity, and will publish the news its readers want to read more than actually worthy stories. More fans of a brand or device tends to equal more coverage, or at least more favorable coverage. This means that Apple glitz gets pushed to the top while worthy yet less appealing devices and technology are mentioned only in passing. The Zune seems to be heading more towards the Apple direction, with a flashy interface for the device and the software. While certain features are genuinely useful or fun, I question the long-term utility of Cover Flow, for example. The Zune's touchpad, while nice, gets easily confused between a vertical and horizontal swipe, and will often put me on a different twist menu than the one I wanted, with no easily way to get back. And overall, the firmware just feels less optimized (not less polished) than last year's first offering. This is nothing an update can't fix (as we've seen), but it sets a dangerous precedent about whether version 3 of the firmware will be backwards compatible with v2 <u>and</u> v1 hardware. We'll see.<br /><br />Hopefully Microsoft will see it can't just rest on its laurels and expect people to follow. Apple has been receiving a backlash only recently because they failed to keep up the illusion of perfection. Can Microsoft do better?
 
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  #2  
Old 11-15-2007, 08:20 PM
USArcher
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"Microsoft will see it can't just rest on its laurels"

Couldn't have said it better. Microsoft cannot afford a repeat of 2007 and need to deliver a significant Spring 2008 update. I think its doable now that the rewrite and hardware redesign are behind them. Heres how I see 2008 shaping up...

Jan - minor Firmware update to fix bugs and Canada launch
Feb/Mar - Zune Social out of Beta
May - Spring Update, launch in several european markets
Nov - Fall Update, Flash 4/8 updated with 2" screen
 
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  #3  
Old 11-16-2007, 04:23 AM
rensul
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Default Nice to see response to Block "review"

I have to say I was psyched to read all the responses to Blockheads review. I was just so thrilled with the new Zune software and firmware and when I read the review I couldn't believe how someone could put down something that I thought was so excellent. I have to say it was quite gratifying to see all of that Zune support which essentially validated my thinking on this great new device.

And I'm not a "fanboy" - just someone who enjoys technology like the Gen2 ipod that I bought years ago only to ultimately look for more. Apple really just wasn't cutting it for me. The Zune was new and exciting (last year in my opinion and of course this year). It's happened to me with macs too. I was into Mac OS X but Apple just wasn't delivering the experience like Microsoft in terms of there 10' UI media center interface.

As far as the iPhone and the ipod touch go they are extremely cool devices but I have to say I like the one-handed operation of the Zune as well as the fact that I've committed to the windows media center platform for music, tv, and photos ( 3x xbox 360 extenders etc.) Apple isn't even close in this distributed media realm for the house (don't even go there with Apple TV and the tv show purchases on itunes...)

Anyway, a bit of a ramble...

Thanks Zunethoughts for all the v2 coverage.

Rensul
 
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  #4  
Old 11-16-2007, 04:32 AM
Adam Krebs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USArcher View Post
Jan - minor Firmware update to fix bugs and Canada launch
Feb/Mar - Zune Social out of Beta
May - Spring Update, launch in several european markets
Nov - Fall Update, Flash 4/8 updated with 2" screen
I agree with you on the first two dates, but I'm wondering about bringing Social out of Beta. How much work do you think they'll do on the online capabilities vs. the software/firmware (once all the kinks are worked out of the systems, respectively)?

I see Feb/March as bringing back several of the community's favorite features, but hiding them somewhere (in places that geeks typically look). I was kind of disappointed to find out that drag-and-drop from Explorer isn't supported any more. I can only hope the search results become more useful (a la gen1 software), but I imagine that'll be in the general fixes. I really hope it doesn't take them 'til Spring to fix this.

As for your 1-year-from-now date, do you think this is the end of Harddisk-based players? Will they not update the new line? What's going to happen with the backwards-compatibility? I can't imagine they'll update the Zune30 two years in a row...maybe some sort of stripped-down feature set that won't take advantage of the touch pad (which I imagine will be of greater use in the future). If I'm not mistaken, the ZunePad is omni-directional. It could make for some interesting game paradigms.
 
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  #5  
Old 11-17-2007, 02:20 AM
Macguy59
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Join Date: Sep 2006
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So rebuttal from Zune fan boys is altruistic behavior?
 
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