Today a friend asked me how fast downloading songs / albums from the ZMP was and I had to admit - I wasn't sure. The day the firmware came out I immediately hooked up my Zune to my wifi network at home and then connected to the marketplace and then started playing a newly released song and it started playing nearly instantly - there was maybe a 3-4s delay between the time I clicked and the time it started playing on my Zune - but it seemed very reasonable and the song played without a single hiccup or buffering issues.
But the cool thing about the ability to access the ZMP wirelessly is that you don't have to stream the songs - you can add them to your 'cart' on the Zune and then this downloads them locally to the Zune vs. simply streaming them (when you stream I don't believe they are left behind when the song is over). Theoretically if I was at a friends house and wanted to download random songs that I didn't already have on my Zune for later playback on his 360 - this is what I'd have to do - I'd have to find the songs / albums, add them to the cart on the Zune and then once they were done downloading - plug my Zune into the 360 and start playing them (if you are downloading content or streaming when you plug the Zune into the 360 it stops).
So I decided to do a speed test - tonight I found a newly released album - it was a Buckcherry album that showed up right on the main 'New Releases' part of the marketplace on the Zune. I clicked to add it to the cart and it started downloading . . . and it was slow. The Zune gives you a % complete number - but not a throughput number . . . but the throughput didn't seem all that great. In fact as I have typed this blog post I've only gotten to 95% complete with the album - and I've been downloading it for at least 10 minutes. So I wanted to know what my average download speed was so I logged into my DD-WRT router and pulled up the bandwidth monitoring interface in FireFox (it uses VML - this is the ONLY reason I have FF3.0 installed) and looked at my wifi (since my Zune is the only wifi device on it right now - these are fairly accurate numbers).
Welp - a picture is worth a thousand words - it looks like at around 7pm EST on 9/17/2008 my Zune 80 could only achieve an average of about 650kbps download speeds from the ZMP which is slower than the ~2-3Mbps I have clocked it at when doing a wireless sync to my PC.
After the download was over though - I noticed that my wifi utilization was still bouncing between 100kbps and 200kbps . . . but I had nothing queued up and nothing was downloading . . . I disabled the wifi on the Zune and the utilization immediately dropped back down to 0%. I then fired up the wifi on the Zune again and logged in to the marketplace again and the utilizaiton hovered near 0 (the thumbnails and stuff that it downloads are barely enough to register). So then I decided to time one song to see how long that would take to download (and to see if the utilization would stay at 100kbps to 200kbps after the download finished). I chose the artist 'Gym Class Heroes' and the song was a rather amusingly named 'Drnk Txt Rmeo' ('cause who HASN'T txt'd while drnk? :) . . . it's a 3:25s song - fairly representative . . . I started that song downloading and it was done approx 50 seconds later (give or take 2-3s) and here's what the bandwidth graph looked like for that download - notice that I hit peaks of up to 1.5mbps but the average is about the same probably between 600-700kbps
Welp - those are my numbers - YMMV . . .
UPDATE: So after I published this I started downloading that whole Gym Class Heroes album and I had a very different network utilization graph from this download - I averaged closer to 1.5Mbps with bursts of up to 3Mbps. I also noticed that you can use the back arrow to do other things while a song / album is downloading in the background (i.e. you can listen to music while downloading from the ZMP - but you don't seem to be able to play a game - games seem to disconnect you - BUT - it will resume downloading where it left off after you re-connect to the ZMP after you're done with the game - you don't have to start all over)
So then I decided to do see if the Zune would be smart enough to push the content that I downloaded directly to the Zune back up to my PC and I decided to do that wirelessly as well to see how fast the wireless sync is with the new firmware (since I haven't tested it in a while).
Well - I'm pleased to report that not only did it push the downloaded content back to my PC (as one would expect) - but it also averaged about 5Mbps while doing it! That's up about 50% faster than the last time I tested (with the last version of the firmware I averaged about 2 - 2.5Mbps).
So it looks like what we've learned is: