BFF Jaxim's Zune requests good enough for CrunchGear

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Over on BFF, user Jaxim has posted a really terrific piece for our Blind Review contest on what the Zune could use to make it even better. Not that it’s a dis on the Zune; Jaxim starts by saying that he’d still take one over an iPod Classic, but he makes several good points that the guys at Bear Creek might want to think about. It’s a great read, and not just a good entry in the contest, it’s also exactly the type of stuff we love to see on the sister blog.

Thanks, Jaxim, it’s good to have you as a BFF.

I don’t own one of the new Zunes that just came out this past month, but my friend allowed me to test his out pretty thoroughly and I was able to ask him what he didn’t like about it.

I must say I really enjoyed it. However there are a “few” things that I thought were lacking with the device. Despite these deficiencies I would still purchase it over an iPod classic. Read on…

HARDWARE:

* -Needs a replaceable battery. Let’s face it, Apple was one of the first companies to remove this feature in order to reduce a few millimeters from the device’s footprint. I think if the Microsoft added this feature to the Zune, there would be many iPod to Zune converts.
* -Bigger screen on the flash version – the screen border on the flash version is too big. The screen needs to be bigger. The screen size is one of the main things that make the hard drive Zune better than the iPod. In order for the flash Zune to be better than the iPod Nano, the flash Zune needs to start off by adding a bigger screen.
* -It would be nice if the flash Zune had an iPod shuffle-like clip.
* -Ability to register the tilt of the Zune. If the user is holding the Zune horizontally, then the photos should be displayed in landscape mode. If the zune is held vertically, then the Zune should automatically change to portrait mode
* -An iPhone/iPod Touch killer version of the Zune. This version needs to either have at minimum 32 GB of flash memory or 80GB of harddrive memory. Currently Microsoft doesn’t make a device that is a direct competitor to Apple’s iPhone or iPod Touch.

FIRMWARE:

* -The Zune needs a few extras. For example, a stopwatch, clock, calendar, games (multiplayer via wifi) = a stopwatch and timer would be a great addition so we can use it to workout.
* -The Zune should have the ability to be used as a hard drive w/o any hacks
* -You should be able to delete directly from the Zune. If you watched a video, you should be able to delete it and not have to wait to connect your device to the computer in order to delete the video file.
* -Ability to modify the main menu. I like how you can do this on the iPod. For example, if you don’t use the new Zune podcasting feature, then you should be able to get rid of it.
* -Ability to preview artwork when menu item is selected. I like how the iPod does this. Select (w/out pressing) “photos” on the iPod, and you’ll see a mini slide show of the photos.
* -Ability to view PDF files. You’ll be able to read books and view maps.
* -Ability to zoom more than once into a photo
* -Ability to bookmark mp3 files – ebooks
* -audible support
* -nike+ support
* -View photos by tag!!!

* -When viewing photos by folder, the entire folder structure should not be displayed. In the original firmware this was not a problem. Take for example the following image path where the software is told to find images under the “Photos/” folder:
o –“C:/ABC/XYZ/Zune/Photos/image.jpg”
o –The old firmware would display the image under: “Photos/images.jpg
o –The new firmware finds the image under:
o –“ABC/XYZ/Zune/Photos/image.jpg”
o –Of course, if you were able to find photos by tags (and subtags), then this would not be a problem.

* -Cross Fade music
* -gapless support
* -More codecs: i.e. native support for such popular formats like the avi video file format.
* -Ability to create playlists on the Zune which can later be uploaded to your computer.
* -Would love to see an option to view thumbnails of video/photos like it is done in Media Center. Horizontally and bigger thumbnails.
* -An ability to view the current song playing. If you play a song, then start viewing photos, the only way to return to the “now playing” song is to wait 10 seconds for it to return. If you’re playing a slideshow, then it’s practically impossible. A simple solution is to add a Now Playing option under the Music menu.
* -Use Zune as a sideshow device. This would allow you to use your Zune as a Media Center remote control. For example, you’d be able to view thumbnails of TV shows that are available to watch on the Media Center thru your Zune. On your Zune, you could choose to have Media Center play a certain TV show or choose to have the video download/sync to your device. Maybe you could have a preview of the video downloaded to your Zune to see if you want to watch it. The same could be true for music files. This would be a great feature that would help promote both Zune and Vista. It would be one feature that Apple couldn’t easily replicate.

SOFTWARE:

* -Ability to modify meta data easily for music and videos. The new Zune software makes it impossible to modify the meta tags of multiple audio files and impossible to modify the meta data of a single video file.
* -dynamic playlists on Zune. The new Zune software remove this feature.
* -automatically schedule conversion of Media Center TV show (dvr-ms) files in the background (i.e. as soon as the dvr-ms file is created) so when you sync a video to your Zune, it doesn’t take forever to sync.
* -ability to subscribe to RSS feeds to blogs which can synced to your Zune so you can download the articles on your Zune.
* -ability to view the details of your sync. The old software did this. While a file is converting, it should show you how much of the file has converted. Instead now it just shows you the percentage of the sync.
* -ability to place file to sync in a well to see how much room you have left on your Zune. Again this is a lost feature from the original software.
* -ability to tell the software not to automatically sync my Zune until I tell it to. I hate it now if I move/delete a video file from my computer, this video will be deleted from my Zune even though my video sync setting is set to “let me choose my video”
* -basically, I’d like to see an advanced set of features and not a dumb down software.

SOCIAL:

* -audible alerts when a fellow Zuner tries to send you something. Right now, if someone tries to send something to you without you know it, and you’re busy listening to music and not looking at the screen, you won’t know som,eone is trying to be social with you. If there was an audible alert that sounds when someone tries to send something to you, then maybe the Social will actually thrive.
* -option to accept anything anyone tries to send you. It would be great if the zune was able to automatically accept anything from anyone. So while you walk somewhere a couple of fellow Zuners may send you something. When you finally look at your Zune’s inbox, you’ll notice that a few people have sent you some things. Because you can limit the size of the inbox, there isn’t the danger of someone trying to send you files that are too big.
* -Microsoft should buy a social site like last.fm.

With any device like this, a hard core gear fan like me is going to have a long list of things of how the device can be better. Most of these items could easily be corrected by a software/firmware upgrade.

In the past I have used the iPod classic and iPod Touch, and I must say that I preferred the Zune 80 for 2 reasons: 1) the bigger screen (over the classic) made it better for watching video and 2) the larger memory capacity (over the puny 16GB of the Touch) was better for all my files in my collection with plenty of room with many, many videos and recorded TV shows.

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