Details of Microsoft’s Zune interface, features exposed

“If you’ve been wondering how the Zune’s user interface will compare with the iPod’s, we have some real answers for you this morning: the similarities are significant, but Microsoft has made a number of changes that range from cool to not so cool,” Jeremy Horwitz reports for iLounge.

Horwitz reports:
That Wheel Thing: Not so cool… shaped like a wheel, but it’s really just buttons.
General UI: Cool-ish. Think iPod, but in reverse: white text on black screens, but with a very iPod-like menu hierarchy.
Scrolling UI: Cool-ish. [When crolling] screen superimposes the current alphabet letter over the right side of the song list.
Album Art: Cool. Zune displays album art in a full-screen-width cube at the top of its screen… significantly larger and more detailed than the iPod’s largest such display, thanks to the size of Zune’s screen.
Integrated FM Radio: Cool-ish. Yes, like virtually every other iPod wannabe out there, it has one.
Wi-Fi: Eh. Apparently you can use the Wi-fi feature to “loan” other Zune owners music for some short period (a day), giving them the opportunity to buy the tracks themselves from the Zune music store… You may also be able to spool Zune music to a Wi-Fi-enabled Xbox 360, which again is a cool idea, but requires a $100 wireless adapter and the $300-400 console.
Other Details: Not so cool. Zune is a bit bigger than a standard 30GB iPod, and apparently made entirely of plastic. In addition to the Music menus, there are Videos and Pictures playback interfaces, which aren’t as simple as Apple’s.

“The big question being asked around these parts right now is whether Zune has any feature so compelling that it can really rival the iPod juggernaut. Right now, the feeling is that Microsoft may have gotten a few things closer to right than normal, but neither any individual part of the package nor the complete experience will truly rival the iPod’s super-simple, mainstream experience. At best, we’ve heard predictions that Zune will fight for the same fraction of “tech geek” market share (15%) that Apple hasn’t yet taken; at a $300 entry point with a 30GB hard drive, it’s hard to imagine that Zune gains traction in the iPod’s strongest market, the iPod mini- and nano-loving $250-and-under tiny device buyers,” Horwitz reports.

Many more details and larger photo of the device in the full article here.

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84 Comments

  1. DOA.

    By the time the second iteration arrives…it will be so far behind it will look like a Discman.

    By the way…why the hell don’t they put an AM radio in these things? Don’t people get news, information and conversations of interest through AM? Why not?

  2. AM is dead. Nobody, except maybe Americans, use it. You’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere in Europe, a market amost 3 times as big as the US, that uses it.
    To answer your question:
    “Don’t people get news, information and conversations of interest through AM? Why not?”
    No, nobody in the world outside US uses AM.
    Why not? Because AM sucks really hard.

  3. I am actually surprised how good the zune will be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m keeping my iPod and probably buying a new iPod next time. But this is actually better than what I thought they’d be able to create. So I hope they enjoy their 5% market share that they will get, if they are lucky and there aren’t virius’ and glitches (which we haven’t found out yet).

  4. “White lettering on black screen = hurt eyes.”

    It also uses more battery power. Constantly

    activating all of those LCD pixels uses more

    juice. Not to mention the characters being hard

    to see unless the backlighting is running all

    of the time. I bet the display will be hard to

    read in the sun.

    Black characters on white= Mac
    White characters on white= MS-DOS

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