Microsoft Zune Review

Ok. This review covers Microsoft’s zune mp3 player. I’m sorry if it’s too long…. Please repost it to any forum that deals with blind technology.

Zune review written by: Thomas Geczy


Hello people! This is Thomas Geczy / Tomi, and today, I will be reviewing Zune, Microsoft’s approach to digital mp3 portable playback. It has been released on november 14, 2006.

I bought one of these players on BBlack friday, which is an event in the US where prices for things dramaticly get reduced. Since this zone is quite new, the lowest price I could get it for is 239 dollars. Not bad.

First, let me compare the Zune and the commonly used apple IPod video / 5g. The Ipod uses a click wheel, where you have to “scroll” with you’re thumb on a wheel. So, to go forward, you would move you’re thumb to the right a few times. The zune uses a circle. To go up, push the circle upward, to go forward push the right side of the circle, etc.

The zune also includes a good quality fm radio. The Ipod dosen’t.
However, the ipod supports many formats, like Aif, snd, Aifc, mpg, mpa, avi, au. The zune only supports Mp3, wma, wmv, ogg, and mp4.

With the zune, you can upgrade it’s fermware. This way you could get enhancements / bug fixes for free.

The IPod is available in 60 gigabytes format, while the zune is only in 30 gig version so far.
The Ipod has 20 hours of batterry life for music playing, the zune has 13. The IPod only has 2 hours for video playback, but the zune has 4 hours.

The zune allows you to send files wirelessly from zune to zune. Songs that you receive this way can only be played 3 times, or 3 days, which ever comes first. After this, a “this song has expired” icon appears and ya can’t play the song. Sad.

You can’t use the zune as an external harddrive. It doesn’t ever appear in “my computer” (or computer in vista). To sync files, ya need to use the zune sync software.

so how does it look / feel like? The zune is made out of rubberised plastic. It is about 5 inches wide and 3 inches across. As mentioned, the zune uses a circle navigation, up, left, right, down. To the left of this circle is a menu button, and to the right of it is a play/pause button.

In the middle of the circle is an enter button, used to enter menu items. This is seperated from the circle and can move back and forth.

The menu

To navigate, you use the down/up button. Pressing the button lists the following:

  • music
  • videos
  • pictures
  • fm radio
  • settings
  • To get into music, just press enter (it’s selected by default). To get into fm radio, press 3 down.


    Pressing enter allows you to select what kind of music ya wanna hear. By default, rock is selected. Going down you get into shuffle, where all songs are mixed up randomly.

    Overall, the quality of the songs is great.

    Fm radio

    Wen you start the radio, you asked for “european” or “american” radio allocation. By default, american is selected, but one down you can select the european.

    Turning the thing off:

    To turn you’re zune off, hold the play / pause button. Then you can put it in hold by switching the hold switch. If ya plug in a headphone, though, the machine comes back to life. Switching hold off results in the same action.


    By default, the zune comes with a cd that contains the sync software / fermware update.


    The install window is kind of like a website, there’s links for next, cancel, back. The program installs msxml6 if ya don’t have it.
    Warning!!! This software cannot be installed in vista! You get a “msxml6″ is already installed” error and the thing can’t run. If you want to use vista and zune, perform an upgrade from xp (install the software beforehand). After you got everything running, go to program files\zune, select zune.exe, press alt enter, and check the compatibility mode thing. Run it in “windows xp with sp2” mode.
    So, the install is straight forward. You are asked to reboot at the end of setup. After the reboot, you are returned to setup, and asked for you’re zune name. This is name is used to identify you’re zune on the wireless community feature and in the sync window. Right after this is done, you are asked to upgrade you’re firmware. This only takes about 4 minutes. (for those who want to know, Zune uses windows CE technology, and the firmware update uses nk.bin, eboot.bin, and recovery.bin.)
    Next you setup the library, and select the folders you want to sync automatically. You have the option to not synchronize the my music folder, though this is turned on by default.

    Then you need to synchronize you’re time with the internet. This also synchronizes the clock in you’re zune, so when you sync, the song’s date won’t be wrong.

    Zune will synchronize the files in the “my music” folder, (if you unchecked this, it will not do it.) So the sample windows xp / vista songs are put on there.

    JAWS and the zune software:

    Overall, it’s not bad. Microsoft made the sync window controlls like in windows media player: There’s a play/pause/stop/shuffle button, a “sync now” option, sync options option, and some weird-labeled buttons. You add files to the library in the context menu, which opens when pressing alt, and selecting add folder to library. By default, you’re my documents/my music folder is synced automatically.

    There’s a treeview catagorizing Song, album, artist, genre, and other options which depend on the level of the tree you’re on. For instance, “recently added” appears under the “library” section only, while “sync results” only appears in the “xname” section (where xname is the name you gave to you’re zune). If you tab over, there’s a list containing information relevant to the item of the tree you were on (if you were on sync results, this tells you if a file has been synced successfully or is already on the device”. If you want to delete a file from zune, simply press delete on the item you want to erase (you must be in the “sync results” branch of the tree view.)

    Scripts are not needed, though they would be nice. It’s pritty easy to manage, the moment you connect you’re zune all files in my music are synced (again, this won’t happen if you deselected this), so if you have little knowledge on computing this won’t be an issue.


    I think that the Zune is the most accessible portable digital player out there now. Yes, there’s no “zunereader” to read the menu, but you can memorize it quickly. Takes a few days to get used to it. I will be adding a list of the menu items / subitems soon, in a seperate post. I think microsoft did a great job on this new product.

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