I’ve been using my brown Zune since Christmas, but I’ve been too lazy to write about it until now. Overall, it’s pretty much what I expected, so I’ll just describe the things about it that piss me off.
It’s designed for simplicity, but parts of the software (on the device itself) are too simple. For instance, there’s no deleting files on the device itself. To delete a file, you’ve got to sync with a computer and use the desktop software. And song information on the device is very limited. All that is displayed is the track title, artist name, album name, genre, and album art. ID3 tags show a lot more than that, but I suppose all I’m really missing is the year. You can rate songs, but the rating is pretty inconsequential, since you can’t sort by rating. Songs with higher ratings don’t play more often when music is shuffled, and there’s no default way to whip up a quick playlist with high-rated songs on the device. I managed to get around this by creating one on the desktop, but when I tried to sync it it wanted to send every song along again with the playlist and not just the playlist file itself. I think it’s working now though, although I did some non-Microsoft-endorsed tricks. It also doesn’t keep track of the number of times a song is played, or the date or time a song is last played (probably since it doesn’t have an internal clock or calendar).
Battery life has been pretty crappy too. I haven’t tested it all the way down, but it sure doesn’t seem like I’m capable of getting over ten hours of playback. Auto-synchronizing is enabled by default, and in its attempts to match your Zune library up with that of your desktop computer, it’s apparently capable of deleting content from the Zune. This is ridiculous…if I want to delete something, I will. I don’t want to sync to find out that I’m ending up with less content on the device. Also, songs on the Zune can’t be played through the computer natively (as far as I can tell) – you need to sync and therefore create copies of the files on your computer to play. One last issue is that the Zune doesn’t appear to turn itself off automatically if paused for a prolonged period. It will turn the screen off after the set time (I have mine on 15 seconds), but the device will remain on…at least for a while.
I like being able to have a song going with just two button presses though, as well as many other facets of the device design. Hopefully an upcoming software update will add some new features. I’d love to see the wireless ability become useful, but I’m pretty happy with the hardware itself.