Zune is Now Here

Every morning I read a ton of feeds from both the tech industry and higher education blogs. For about a week and a half now most of the posts I have been reading coming out of the tech industry has been about the Microsoft Zune. Yesterday I was able to see one in person. Firing it up and seeing the interface actually surprised me — it was decent. I instantly tried to scroll the wheel, but was reminded that it doesn’t work that way — strike one. I am now amazed at how well that interface works for finding music on the iPod. The Zune has a good form factor, albeit a little big, but nice. The screen has great real estate and pops nicely. The feature that seemed to get the most “ahh factor” were the headphones ability to stick together to help reduce tangling. That is a good idea, but isn’t that big of a deal. Details make a device though.

Now, the big question … will I buy one? Yes. Today I will get a Zune — for research purposes to start. I am more than knee deep in a podcasting project on our campus and will need to know how this thing plays with the iTunes U setup we are piloting. I have to say that there was a buzz among the PSU Computer Store workers yesterday as they showed me the Zune … most said they would instantly buy one when they went on sale today. I wondered to myself if it is because everyone is so bored with the iPod? The iPod is still a sexy device — especially the new little ones — but the Zune has some action.

I am now wondering how the social networking aspects could impact the educational space. “Ok, class pull out your Zunes and grab this podcast …” Not sure if that kind of thing will work, but it needs to be investigated. I am also curious if Microsoft will play nicely with us education technology folks to seed these into our research and development labs to really see how they can impact our landscape?

At the end of the day I am interested. After hearing the reaction of my primary demographic I am instantly thrown to the realization that some of the iPod’s proprietary formats will create a lot of angst. Will the Zune play enhanced podcasts? I’ll know more later today. The last question is color? Brown? Probably just iPod white — old habits die hard.

6 thoughts on “Zune is Now Here

  1. How is Zune any less proprietary than iPod? Both can play MP3 files, but each prefers their own DRM-wrapped-via-proprietary-method files. Apple’s is based on an open standard, MS’s on their own file format. I don’t see Zune solving much angst there.

    The wifi angle could be cool, but the only demos of that I’ve read of involve “sharing” a track that evaporates after being played 3 times. I hope that’s a customizable setting. I’d hate for a podcast for class to disappear just before final exams…

  2. Picked up the Zune today. I feel dirty. I got a black one and I am instantly amazed at how it is getting any sort of positive vibe from people. The interface (on screen) is solid, but the physical unit is hard to navigate. Everyone who touched it in my office tried to do a thumb scroll on the fake wheel. Sorta funny. I sat down with a bunch of my staff today and asked for their reactions. There will be a podcast tomorrow of our thoughts.

  3. Looking forward to the podcast. Gonna point my HCI class to it…be interesting for them to hear your experiences with the iPod killer.

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