My mother always taught me if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I decided to opt out of all the hype/buzz/drivel about the Zune 2 announcement here because quite frankly I’ve been underwhelmed. But I seem to keep getting emails asking what I think. Sure, I have friends working on it. I’ve inquired, "Please tell me the player is much much improved" and was told, by a friend "Trust us, it will be". After sending mail to some other friends in Zune-land stating, "I love the iPhone, will I like the Zune?" The response, "Just wait". Hey, I want to like it, but I’m not going to shill for it. I just can’t seem to get jazzed up about the product after v1 was such a let down for me personally. Then the company meeting happened. I waited for the big Zune demo and announcement all employees would get one (ala Steve Jobs + iPod). Neither the demo or the rumored announcement happened. How will this device get to escape velocity if we’re not firmly behind it?
So I’ve been waiting, looking the space more as a general consumer than I’ve been for years. The tepid comments regarding Zune 1 and somewhat quiet introduction of Zune 2 had me concerned earlier this week. Now it appears things are changing. First the team is smartly offering the free update for all customers who purchased Zune 1 – we’ll get all the software features. Second, the new devices are definitely a generation ahead of v1. Now, I’m waiting and reading Steve O’Hear from Last 100’s coverage on the 5 things Microsoft did right with the Zune 2:
- WiFi music syncing. Definitely a big plus in my book. Fewer wires = goodness and my Zune can now sit in the kitchen/office
- Support for audio and video podcasts. Finally! Someday I’ll write my memoirs on how hard we tried to get this into another player…
- Windows Media Center TV recording transfer. Good to see, still skeptical until I see it in action.
- Social Networking. Zune Social and Zune Card will be interesting. But I still want "Zune Finder" as a gadget/widget/mini-app that detects Zunes when I’m on my laptop and have my Zune WiFi turned off at the airport, at conferences etc.
- Free update for existing customers. Yep. This is great.
To this, I want to add my own:
- MP3 Store. It’s about friggin’ time. I completely converted from WMA and iTunes DRM’d content to MP3-only earlier this year through a painful series of CD rips ;). Now my iTunes, Media Center, and Sonos Libraries work in harmony. I use MusicBridge (an awesome, must-have tool) to keep my playlists, ratings, and playcounts in sync and I’m good to go.
- Media Player Software that looks clean and usable again. The video clips I’ve seen of the Zune look outstanding. iTunes has it’s quirks, WMP hasn’t kept up with my music library but does a better job at certain functions like album art matching.
- FM radio. Often overlooked, I sometimes get bored with shuffle and my playlists and just want to connect with the outside world. FM radio still has it’s place.
- The new Zune 2. Touchpad is the way to go. Single-handed use is still easy, something that is increasingly frustrating me about the iPhone.
- Support for Apple’s Podcast extensions are coming. First comes denial, then anger, then acceptance ;). Zunester seems to confirm this which is nice to see. Album art today, full features soon?
Will I be trading in my iPhone for a Zune 2? Not likely, namely because I love the in-car integration I have with my VaisTech adapter in my Toyota. But I will load up the new software on my Zune 1 and give it another whirl.