Saturday, October 06, 2007


As an Microsoft MVP, those nice folks in Redmond provide a small balance at the company store that I can spend on software, books, apparel, etc.  At least they so every year I am re-awarded. This is a very nice benefit.

Last Sunday, I realised that, as MVP renewal was on October 1 (I did get renewed !, my company store balance would be wiped out. So I logged on to see what I could spend my balance on. Frankly nothing jumped out - but on the home page, there was an advert for a Zune. As it happened, I had just enough to buy buy it, so I hit the appropriate keys and yesterday the nice FedEx man delivered it. My wife is furious - but I played with it till 3:00 in the morning. 

First impressions: I like it! Now I've not had an real iPod so maybe there are things I'm missing, but I've found the Zune pretty easy to use. The quality and volume are all well, although the build quality of the headphone jack leaves a bit to be desired (If you push too far, the headphones go mono).

The Zune host software is easy enough to use. I've managed to download several live concerts (Jerry Garcia, The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd and Keith Jarrett). I'm listening to a great GD 69 show as I write this posting.

One thing that freaked me out was reading about the new Zune - it was announced after I'd ordered, but before I'd even got it! But as it happens, most of the features of the new box are to be made available as a firmware upgrade for existing Zunes (although I have to suffer the 30gb hard disk). But the firmware upgrades are meant to be free - I have one upgrade already that adds wireless etc.

One thing I was surprised at - by default, plugging a Zune into your PC does not automagically show the Zune hard disk on the host. As a 30GB USB hard drive that I will carry around with me, this feature is pretty desirable. Turns out there's a simple fix - a few registry hacks as described on the ZuneMods.Net site

However, the instructions for this mod are marginally wrong (and will be wrong for some people). The instructions suggest you modify registry values below HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\ControlSet001\Enum\USB\. Since NT boxes can have several controls ets editing a specific one is incorrect. To ensure it works, use the key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Enum\USB\ instead. Otherwise this mod works great and I've got it working on my system now! More importantly - this does NOTHING to the Zune, so it's not likely to suddenly brick the device. 

All in all, I like my Zune!

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1 comment:

Raf M said...

Poor--if not withering--reviews may be snapping at the heels of the Zune, but I heard you got there some great earbuds not matched by ipods. Plus the Fm tuner too. Sad to say that a lot still cant see Zune as a real alternative to the ipod, sore over the fact that Zune coulda been the one to take advantage of the exclusivist AAC format.
most cited mp3 players out of 2007