I had a chance to play with a Zune last week. Frankly, I’m a bit of a biased reviewer in this case, being an Apple fanboy and all. That said, here’s my rundown of the player itself. I haven’t used the software, but check out Engadget’s Zune review for the whole scoop. This is mostly just ranting.
First off, I’m not sure I could get past how gigantic the things is. It just doesn’t feel pocketable. Beyond that, it feels a bit cheap. The choice of a non-spinning “wheel” control is also a bit questionable. Everyone who picked the unit up started trying to spin the wheel and said “why isn’t it working?” – a clear indication that it’s not very user friendly. Having to use separate back and play buttons outside of the wheel is also a bit cumbersome.
Once you’ve gotten the controls down, the interface is for the most part quite nice. It’s certainly got more visual flair than the iPod, but you can still navigate it at a pretty good pace.
The choice of a larger screen rotated 90degrees makes for some awkward situations though. As you switch between videos and the menu for example, you need to rotate the player back and forth. It will be interesting to see how Apple deals with this issue when they go with a larger format screen on the “real” video iPod.
As a music player, the Zune is fine. It’s not great, it’s not terrible. The FM tuner is nice, and I’m sure the WiFi will be useful to some folks. I’ll stick with my iPod though.