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.

Zune 80 wifi download from the ZMP

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

Drnk Txt Rmeo download

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)

Zune wifi download - Take 2

 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).

Zune wifi sync throughput

 

So it looks like what we've learned is:

  1. The Zune 3.0 firmware can download / upload at about 5mbps - and this is much faster than the Zune 2.0 and older firmwares
  2. Download speeds from the ZMP range from 600kbps to 3Mbps depending on time of day, color of shirt, album downloaded etc.