Both the new Zune media software, and device firmware have been released today and I have to be honest, I'm really impressed. I'm impressed for a few reasons actually. Firstly, that we've improved the interface of the Zune media software sitting on your PC by a huge amount. It's almost like your music is now contained in a cool Silverlight bubble, that makes navigating between your device, your library, and the online marketplace, a real pleasure.
That's my Zune, above, by the way. Now I haven't got a different one to compare to, but I'm hoping that if I connected a pink one, it would be reflected in the image instead of the black one (which is actually my Zune). It's the little personal touches that can make all the differences - let me know if that is the case - I'm sure it will be, seeing as it's identified mine as an old version, rather than the even swankier new version!
It's just such a shame that the device isn't here in the UK yet. I think mine's great - sure it's a little big, but it feels solid, the screen quality is superb, video being a particular highlight, battery life is ok, but the new interface is slick, and intuitive, even using the old device rather than the new.
What can you expect from the new Zune firmware? Well, in the least part, it's a breath of fresh air into my new device - there aren't many manufacturers of portable media devices that will allow you to update your firmware to have the latest cool technology - usually you need a whole new device.
If you head over to http://www.zune.net/en-US/ you'll find all the information you need, including links to download the new PC software (which you can just update from your current Zune software should you have it installed), you'll find links to the TV adverts, the Zune social and the Zune Marketplace, but best of all, you'll also have access to the devices themselves, and Zune Originals - where you can really tailor your new Zune with a collection of cool engraved artwork.
As soon as you connect your device to the new PC software, you'll be prompted to update your firmware - easy as that!
Zune is really going places, and it's looking very cool - just release it in the UK!!!
Is the Zune really a better choice than the iPod? In my opinion, iPod still is the choice of the majority. It has established its mark in the music industry and has already attained the largest market share in the mp3 player category. Zune on the other hand is a new exciting device from Microsoft with more features than the iPod. But, aesthetically speaking, the iPod looks way cooler than the Zune does as with other apple products compared to Microsoft's. Apple’s minalist design has captivated customer’s out of Microsoft’s den.
I wouldn't necessarily say it's a better choice on the whole. What I will say is it's a very viable alternative and an attractive price point. The largest 80gb Zune retails on Amazon.com at the same price point as the 80gb Ipod, and I would say, has the more attractive interface, and a greater number of features. I'd also strongly favour the Zune software on you PC over ITunes. If you'd rather go with a touch screen device, obviously, the iPod touch is a fantastic device, and looks amazing, but people have to pay a premium for it. You are correct, it's a new, exciting device, and is needed to give the market choice, but yes, Apple has the edge in the design up to now (only in the Touch models I would say) but give it time... :-)