zune 2

http://www.coolhunting.com/archives/2007/11/zune_originals.phpThe second generation Zune is coming out tomorrow, and while it looks prettier and has a larger capacity than the original, I think it’s fair to say that Microsoft has taken a step backwards. It sickens me that they haven’t managed to be more innovative in the time they’ve had. Instead of putting in sweet new features that people have requested for a year now, they’ve decided what’s best for the community at large and “dumbed down” the software on both the desktop and the Zune itself.

What they’ve taken out:

  • The desktop software will no longer find items in real-time while typing in a search string
  • The equalizer has been removed from the Zune player
  • The five-star rating system is gone, replaced with a two-heart system*
  • Play-counts are no longer recorded in the desktop software
  • Smart playlists are no longer present in the desktop software
  • Most ID3 tag editing in the desktop software has been removed
  • The “flag item” ability has been removed from the Zune player

What they’ve added:

  • Wireless syncing
  • Podcast support
  • Recorded Windows Media Center TV show support

* The new song rating system seems designed by a twelve year old girl. Previously, songs could be rated on a scale of 1 star to 5 stars, with 1 star songs sucking terribly and 5 star songs being your favorite. No longer. Now, all of your songs that were previously rated 3 stars and higher will be converted to a “heart” symbol, and those rated 2 stars and below will become a “broken heart.” That’s it. Mediocre 3 star songs now become as respected as those rare 5 star gems.

I’m going to miss many of the things above when the unavoidable “update” rolls around. I guess I was in the minority when I hoped that the software would become more intuitive at doing the things it could already do, and maybe add some more. I definitely must have been out of the loop when I thought they might add some more detailed ID3 information and music-sorting methods to the device itself, or even Audible audiobook support. Consider me genuinely disappointed with this “update.”

Update: After installing the software, it turns out there are a couple of corrections to be made. If you go to “list” view in the Zune desktop software, you can in fact do a bit of ID3 tag editing, but there’s still no mass-edit mode and it’s pretty limited. But a bigger surprise was that the equalizer is indeed still on the player, albeit in its original limited form. I don’t know if they removed it for the 2.1 update and added it back in 2.2, but the equalizer is definitely sitting there under “Settings”->”Music.”

Update 2: Apparently the equalizer only remains on updated Zune 30 devices (those are the first-gen Zunes). The new Zunes do not have an equalizer anymore…for some reason. Weird.

2 thoughts on “zune 2

  1. I’m in 100% agreement with you when it comes to the new rating system and the auto-playlists.

    This xmas I was planning on getting the Zune, however, I’m a big user of the ratings and auto-playlists in Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player. The removal of these two core functions basically makes this a no-go for me. What really irks me about this move from MS is that it seems like they are intentionally trying not to integrate their entertainment (xbox, MCE, WMP, Zune) together.

    What’s ironic is that the ipod w/itunes is better integrated with MCE and WMP than the Zune.

  2. True enough, opuntia. I’ve been aching for a more seamless integration between all of my Microsoft entertainment products and they just seem so reluctant to deliver it. If they’d listen to the users this time around, they could actually deliver a pleasant experience.

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