Zune issues

I am a big fan of the Zune but not to the point where I cannot point out it’s short comings.  There aren’t many, at least for me.  Several months ago, I subscribed to the Zunepass.  Zunepass is a monthly subscription where you can download ‘all you can eat’.  Well, only to a point.  Zunepass is a pretty good deal: you pay about $15 a month for the privilege of downloading music.  As long as you pay, you keep the music.  You stop paying, it stops playing.  Only, it does not quite work that way.  Recently, I spent a week at the beach and had very limited dial up Internet access.  Since it was slow going, I never bothered to sync the Zune.  Not syncing for such a long time has a nasty side effect:  your Zunepass music stops playing.  Yep.  I’m guessing that everytime you sync, it is going out to the Marketplace and renewing some token or something that allows that music to keep playing.  Stop connecting for a few days and that token (or whatever) expires and so does the music.  Very annoying.  I would expect it to do that after a month, but not after only a few days.  Also, even if something is listed in the Marketplace, it does not mean you can get it via Zunepass. In fact, there’s a lot you cannot get.  Plus, it does not apply to videos at all.  Currently, you cannot rent video, only buy it.  Don’t get me wrong, Zunepass is pretty nice, but these little shortcomings are a bit aggravating.

I have an original Zune 30gb player.  It is, basically, pretty decent hardware. It is the right size for me, has a good feel and the weight is about right.  The screen size is nice and it is fairly sharp and bright.  The problem I have with it is the video out.  The quality of the video out is just a bit better than VHS tape.  I used to think it was ok, but the more I use it, the less inclined I am to suggest people actually use this feature.  Now, before I go on, let me stress that this ONLY applies to the first gen Zune.  The Zune 80 actually has really good video out via the sync connector.  In fact, there are a couple of docks that have component output for the Zune 80.  Resolution, from I understand, is better than the newer iPod’s . On the Zune 30, though, the video looks muddy on bigger screens.  This limitation really hit me while on vacation.  The composite video on the Zune 80 is, I am guessing, similar to the Zune 30 so if you have an 80, I’d suggest using a sync cable with video out.

Another major aggravation with Zune is the pc software.  The version 2 software is better in many ways than the first gen software, BUT…it is so SLOW.  I do all the tricks to speed it up, but after only a few syncing’s, it slows to a crawl again.  I should not have to fiddle with the software as much, it should ALWAYS be snappy and responsive. Downloading and Syncing seem to be where it really slows.  I also wish it were a bit more customizable. I’d like to sort different ways as well as be able to selectively stop an item from syncing while the sync process is taking place.  Sometimes, I might be in a hurry and do not want to wait for a certain file or files to finish.  Being able to right click a file and stop the sync would be tremendous.

My final aggravation is a big one.  For what ever reason, Zune Marketplace often times puts multiple copies of the same file on the device.  For example, last weeks ‘This week in photography’ is on the device FOUR times.  Yet the software only show one time.  Makes it hard to cleanup the device.  And the dupes eat up space.  Microsoft needs to fix this.

That’s what bugs me, how about you?  What issues to you have with the Zune (or iPod, for that matter.)


5 thoughts on “Zune issues

  1. Agreeing… I really like my Zune 30 but the marketplace synch seems to have some issues.  Songs that I know I have downloaded with my Zune Pass seem to just disappear from the device and the synch log tends to show files that I would have never even looked at.  My biggest peave is the sporadic resets that happen when running on battery.
    I would have to disagree with your view of version 2 of the software.  Yes running on my old hardware it was sadly slow but then again so was everything else since I was trying to get new software to run on a 1GHz processor and old 5400RPM drive plus USB 1.1 only.  I love the Zune card service and being able to post that on my Spaces page or any HTML page for that matter, although I wish you could publish a playlist in XML or maybe a Spaces List.  The tie in with my XBox 360 is pretty cool also but I really don’t use it that much.

  2. My complaint with the version 2 software has to do mostly with syncing and downloading content.  While it is doing these tasks, it slows my pc to a crawl.  Funny thing is, cpu utilization does not go up all that much.  Seems to have more to do with the hard disk activity than anything else. Also, switching from, say collection to marketplace always results in a delay.  Sometimes the delay is very small, other times it can take ten to twenty seconds.  It should never take that long.  Likewise, EVERYTIME I switch from device to anything else, there is a delay of ten or more seconds.  Not sure why it started to do that.  It started with the last update to the software.  It is possible that there’s an issue with my setup, but it seems just as slow on my laptop as well.

  3. I was going to go for the Zune pass when it comes out in the UK but after reading your comments I’m having doubts. Expiring after just a few days is bad bad bad.

  4. Jamie-
    Please don’t let my comments keep you from subscribing.  Yeah, it was annoying, but now that I know, I’ll let it connect more often when I on holiday.  Had I known before, I would have at least connected and let it talk to the mothership.  Since I was using my laptop, it does not have all of the subscriptions like my desktop and I probably could have just stopped the unsubscribed for the duration of my stay.  I just did not know.
    The ability to sample music as often as I like and buy what I want makes the service worthwhile.  I’d like to see more, such as video rentals and more complete albums.  So far, I’ve not had problems finding music I like.  Give it a shot.

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