Pros Clean URGE-like interface, Zune compatibility
Cons Purchase by points?!!, Zune ONLY compatibility
Summary If I owned a Zune I would probably love the Zune Marketplace. It appears to work hand-in-hand with the Zune. The interface is very clean but not exceptional, an URGE clone. It supports ONLY the Zune which makes it difficult for me and my Gigabeat to use. I don't see the purpose for the MS points to make a purchase especially with a minimum of $5 for a chunk of points. There is basically no reason for non-Zune owners to use this site. WMP and URGE will have to do for now. Microsoft has created their version of iTunes for their version of iPod. Only it's even more limited (by formats, device support, lack of varied media content and confusing payment method) than Apple and subject to even more scrutiny.
Pros Great look and feel, capacity, crisp 3" video display
Cons Possibly the first MS product that can't work with other MS products - on purpose.
Summary Barely a month after releasing WMP11 the coolness that is URGE, MS releases their first MP3 player that won't work with either of them. I'm sorry, but that's almost as bad as introducing a subscription-based online music service to compete with URGE and iTunes, yet lacks the popular podcast, video, radio etc. features of both... oh wait... never mind.
Pros Great potential
Cons Flawed initial execution
Summary Unlike many of the negative reviews here on CNET that are just people who don’t like Microsoft, I’m actually a fan of most Microsoft’s products; even more the reason why I’m so let down with my initial experience with Zune.
For the last few months I’ve wanted device such as an iPod, but I wanted a bigger screen and better compatibility with the tools I use (mostly Microsoft based OS, media player, gaming systems, etc.). When I heard about the Zune I held out and purchased one a couple of days after they became available. In fact, I had the Zune software installed on my PC before I had even purchased a Zune because I was using it to stream media to my two Xbox 360s.
Now a week purchasing it, I’m very frustrated, had multiple phone calls to tech support and have discovered the product was rushed to market before it was complete. I say it was rushed to market because I have experienced many issues with the new device’s software and website and I’m told there is no solution at this time and look for updates in the future. When I ask when, I’m told there is no ETA.
I’m sure that at some point in the future this will be a good device. But at this time, I can’t recommend it. I can’t even download new music from the Zune service because there is a known issue with account activations for existing Live customers.
Below, I’ve detailed the issues and concerns I have…
1. Account Activation:
a. When activating my Zune account (linking my existing Xbox live account), the process stalled at the login prompt. For hours it would not complete/sign-in. I had to shut down and restart the Zune application to complete the setup process
2. Purchasing music:
a. On my three attempts to purchase an album or singles, I received incomplete status icons across the list of song(s), the songs were not downloaded but my points were deducted
3. Sync Issues:
a. The free meter in the Zune application goes from 10meg free when I connect it to over capacity when I try syncing. I shut the application down, reconnect it and it restates 10meg free. This isn’t a file conversion issue. The content is already on the device…
b. Photos with same name but in different directories are not synced to the unit Disney Vacation\IMG_001 and Honeymoon\IMG_001, etc.. It states already on device, but there not
c. I tell the unit to monitor My Photos, My Video & My Music directories, but it continues to pull media files from other folders when I sync such as the overall My Documents folder.
d. I’ve tried to delete the My Documents folder from my library and it returns. After repeating this process three times, the last attempt in the Zune application displaying c: under the folders view
4. Unit Interface Issues:
a. Why is it necessary to drill down through several menus just to turn on video out? Why can’t this unit sense when a cable is connected to the TV to at minimum why doesn’t the AVE pack remote or base have a TV out button on it
b. Why does the view by folder option not respect the hierarchical structure of my folders?
c. Why is there no support for folders for video? My home videos don’t have a genre
5. Application Interface Issues:
a. When the Zune Marketplace is not available, the application does nothing to inform the user other than not display the options to drill down
6. Content Issues:
a. Why does Zune create a redundant directory for ripped files under My Music call Zune and only use it for some of the albums ripped?
b. Some of the CDs I’ve ripped have appeared under other artist folders. I had Aerosmith and Garth Brooks under the Alanis Morriset directory
c. At times when I select delete from library and PC it doesn’t remove the PC files. This may have been because the read only attribute assigned to the some of the files. If that is the reason, then the interface game me no warning that it couldn’t delete the files
d. Why can’t I see content purchased that appears in Media Player? Limited file type support is an issue
7. Customer Support:
a. When calling into tech support, tier 1 was not able to escalate my call to tier 2 to receive service after 30 minutes. I was asked to call back in the following day
b. Why did it take several days for my account to be credited for the album that would not download?
c. Why once my account was credited for album that didn’t download do the incomplete transactions still appear in the interface?
d. Why can’t tier 1 support find my previous calls and escalate me to tier 2 with spending 20 minutes answering questions I’ve already answered?
e. Why doesn’t tier 2 support read the references from the prior calls or listen to the end user’s explanation?
f. Why can’t a problem be escalated to a manager with tier 2 support?
g. Why won’t a tier 2 agent provide customer support contact information other than the statement “go to our website”, which by the way doesn’t have a customer feedback option? I was told it is coming
Pros Good selection. Nice UI.
Cons Song credit instructions are blatantly false. Customer service people have no knowledge of the service, beyond how to cancel your account, which they will happily do.
Summary Unfortunately, Microsoft is working real hard on losing Zune Marketplace customers. The recent addition of the ability to keep 10 songs downloaded through Marketplace subscriptions is hampered by confusing and possibly illegal policies/instructions on which songs or albums can be kept and how they are paid for. I recently ran into a problem where I thought that the song credits would be applied and instead $10 worth of points were taken from my account. The instructions clearly state that song credits will be applied to songs or albums. Microsoft has posted completely false and confusing policies and then refuses to refund points when the customer's points have been wrongly taken. About the only thing the customer support people seem to be able to do well is cancel the customer's account.When I canceled my Zune Marketplace account, I was billed for another month's Zune Pass. I was told this was for "the month before." That's funny, since you can ONLY purchase Zune Passes in ADVANCE. They have refused to refund the money and I am taking legal action. These people are criminals. You have been warned.
Updated on May 2, 2009
Updated on Jul 1, 2009Finally got my money back after turning them in to the state attorney general. They changed the way the song credits work so that it is less likely to just take money instead of credit. However, when a song did not properly download, customer service denied that the problem occurred, or ever had occurred, in spite of a forum full of people experiencing the same thing. They told me I could not get a "refund" even though I only asked to be given the ONE song that did not download. This is Microsoft's outsourced Mafia, so beware.
Pros Can download lots of musicmusic
Cons Zune pass is a total SCAM.
Summary I am a little concerned with the Zune Pass. Under the open monthly plan it clearly states you can download whatever you want and however much you want.
Per the Zune homepage:
"you can explore and download as many songs as you like from Zune Marketplace."
However, when it comes time to download I found out that you can't download every song on an album. Usually the hit song from every album is not available for download. You still have to pay in addition to the monthly fee for that one song. I called and left a message for a supervisor to call me back and surprise, surprise no one called me back. I think that MSFT really needs to address this plan because it is totally misleading. It may fool a few people but eventually all Zune users will realize this scam and will raise a fuss. This is clearly false advertising.