"A Solid, Nifty iPod Alternative"4.0 starson by Hellrazr360
Pros: Big screen with great video quality, intuitive and simple interface, built-in wireless radio.
Cons: Inconvenient (but very brief) load times, movies can take a while to convert, some issues with the included software.
Summary: It's a real shame that the Zune hasn't garnered more attention, since the device has quite a bit to offer and is, in many ways, superior to the iPod Video. While Microsoft's portable media player intended to compete with Apple doesn't necessarily offer much that's new, it's still a solid, nifty device that offers a little more than meets the eye.
First off, the Zune has a really good build to it, feels even sturdier than the iPod. While it is larger than the iPod video, it's not a drastic difference. Also, the Zune is made out of a matte-like covering unlike the gloss material that Apple uses for the iPod. While it might not make the Zune "shine" so to speak, it means that fingerprints aren't going to show up (that is unless they're wet/sweaty) and it helps make the device feel stronger than most devices similar to it.
As far as what you can do with the Zune, it's almost exactly like an iPod with two extra features. The first of these is the built-in FM radio tuner, which is wireless if you don't know. Obviously you'll have to stand outside in the open if you hope to get the best quality, but the feedback tends to be pretty solid wherever you go. But don't expect to get a good connection in school or any other building; the Zune's radio doesn't perform so well inside buildings.
The other extra feature is the wireless file sharing option. If there's another Zune nearby you can send pictures or songs from your Zune to that person's, so long as they oblige via their Zune. Pictures you're free to send as many as you see fit, but you're limited when sending songs. Three's the magic number when sharing songs, since you can only only send three songs every three days to another Zune and that person will only get to have the song(s) for three days or three plays. It's a nice feature, no doubt, but it would be so much more substantial if it wasn't so limited.
Perhaps the Zune's strongest aspect is its intuitive interface. For one, you can take any picture saved to your Zune and set it as the background. It's a very small touch but setting pictures as the background is a very nice feature and, if you like experimenting to see what picture makes for the best background, can become an addiction. Navigating through the menus is about as simple as you can get, even when you only need the Click-Wheel and Back button to traverse them.
But of course the first thing most people will notice with the Zune is its screen. It's a real eye-opener when you see it at first, but you'll really get the "Wow" reaction when watching videos. The Zune's screen isn't only bigger than its nemesis but it also plays the videos is great quality. Sure, they might be a small step down in video quality than other video-supporting devices like the PSP, but when you watch your favorite movies on this baby, you won't be complaining.
And as for the Zune software available on the included CD, it's a bag of mixed bags and technically the biggest issue with the whole package. On the positive side, the software itself is fairly easy to understand and navigate through (though nowhere near as well as the Zune itself) and the organization of your files is pretty good. However, getting files on and off of the Zune's software can be a little more trouble than it's worth. Also, the start-up for the software is rather tedious and might take a bit too long for comfort. Not to say the software is horrible, but a few tweaks to the menus and interface could greatly improve it. Oh, and you can connect anyone's Zune to your Zune software and put files onto theirs from your software, even if they have their own Zune software installed on their own computer and got some files onto their Zune from there. A nice little touch that makes putting files on the Zune very painless.
All said, the Zune is a very competent device that serves as a great alternative to the iPod. While the software that comes with the device is rather unsatisfying, the device itself is a joy to own and use. If you're getting a little sick of your iPod and want something a little different but mostly familiar, the Zune might just be the best path to take.