Second Generation MS Zune Review

by Michael Kwan on January 9, 2009

Excellent Podcast Integration

MS Zune

Perhaps the greatest advantage that the Microsoft Zune will have over other iPod competitors is its tight integration with both audio and video podcasts. Right from the Zune software that you use to sync your device, you are able to subscribe to the various podcasts available on the web. It’s similar enough to the iTunes interface, but different enough to have its own distinct feel.

Most other competing MP3 players, which the exception of the iPod, do not feature this level of podcast integration. Podcasts are immensely popular and the Zune team has done a great job on this front. From the Zune device itself, you can sort through the podcasts in a variety of ways, instantly seeing if you’ve already watched the episode yet or not.

Final Thoughts

I’m glad that the Microsoft Zune, particularly these second-generation models, will finally be available in Canada. As much as I enjoy my Apple iPod nano, it’s about time that the Cupertino team gets some serious competition from a firm with plenty of marketing muscle. Sure, we already have offerings from Sandisk, Creative, and Sony, but none of these have really been able to compete against the iPod.

The Zune probably won’t dethrone the iPod, but Microsoft has made huge strides in the right direction with their second generation. The Zune Pad is a vast improvement and the podcast integration will really set the Zune apart from other iPod competitors. Even so, the Zune feels like it’s one generation behind. When you look at the Zune 4GB and 8GB, don’t you think that they look a little too much like the second-gen iPod nano? Heck, the fourth-gen nano is rumored to be coming this fall. Microsoft has some catching up to do, but at least they’re catching up.

Current Real Time Price

The Good

  • Podcast integration is very well done
  • Menu navigation is easier to read
  • Innovative Zune Pad controls
  • Great premium headphones
  • Tight integration with Zune Marketplace

The Bad

  • Red Zune 4GB/8GB is a fingerprint magnet
  • Zune 80GB has a large display, but only QVGA resolution
  • Severely limited Wi-Fi functionality
  • Zune Marketplace software can be a little buggy
  • Feels one generation behind

The Verdict: 8/10

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