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Author Topic: Is the new Zune upgrade really an upgrade?  (Read 6192 times)
CWuestefeld
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« on: November 15, 2007, 03:08:10 PM »

I don't get why every seems happy about the Zune "upgrade" this week. From my perspective, the tradeoffs achieve parity at best. Here's how I see the score:

Desktop software
I'm really horribly underwhelmed here. Sure, part of this is a bad feeling due to the mangling of my catalog (80% of the content was erased from my device, the collection was mangled, and no matter what I do, I seem to be stuck with a cover image from Megadeth applied to Dan Levinson & His Canary Cottage Dance Orchestra). To me the Genre and Year lists were more important than the Album lists, I'm going to miss them. They destroyed one playlist by deleting its tracks from the device, and I can't build it back up because it was generated from the Year view.

Advances
  • Supports WiFi sync (which I don't use anyway)
  • Ummm... I really can't think of anything else

Declines
  • No more listing by Genre
  • No more listing by Year
  • Mangle your catalog on upgrade
    • Trash cover art
    • Put copies of random tracks into random albums (Ozzy under Johnny Cash? Hmmm)
    • Song ratings are left behind
  • Can't see actual sync status, just a percentage

Device software
Device Firmware
The interface is more visually attractive, but it seems like they sacrificed function for form. There's still a huge missed opportunity that must be a marketing decision, that the device's file system will not be available to the desktop. This is terrible, and for what reason?

Advances
  • Wifi sync that I don't use
  • Slightly loosened restrictions on music sharing (that I don't use)
  • Go to artist option (I think that's new), but why not other Goto's?

Declines
  • Album view contains less information -- artist isn't shown unless the album is selected.
  • For non-upgraders, EQ has been removed

I may have missed something in those brief lists, but if so, it's not something that's important to me.

Judging from these things that I've noticed, it seems far from clear that the situation is an improvement, more like just a ... change.

If they could give me back the desktop Genre and Year lists I would be less dissatisfied, but even so, they can't give back the 3 hours I wasted putting my collection back in order after they mangled it.
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Ralf Maximus
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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2007, 05:53:58 PM »

Just to be clear: you're talking about the software upgrade?  Not the whole new Zune 2 gadget, right?
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CWuestefeld
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2007, 06:33:00 PM »

Just to be clear: you're talking about the software upgrade?  Not the whole new Zune 2 gadget, right?
Well, I'm talking about it from the perspective of someone upgrading an 1Gen device, but the same things apply, mostly. AFAIK, the only additional benefits to the 2Gen device are
  • Nifty controller thing
  • Ability to play H.264 video
  • No poopy brown color
On the other hand, as I noted, the new device has no equalizer.

So either as an upgrade or a new purchase, I'm having trouble seeing it as an upgrade. More of a sidegrade.
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Ralf Maximus
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2007, 07:18:37 PM »

Ah.  Because the reviews of the Zune 2 left me with the impression the hardware is very much better (real glass instead of clear plastic, bigger display, 4-way jog-pad thingie) but that they only made marginal "improvements" to the software.

Does Zune let you play non-DRM mp3 files?

And do you have to use the sucky client, or can you drag-n-drop like a USB drive?
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CWuestefeld
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« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2007, 07:57:20 PM »

the reviews of the Zune 2 left me with the impression the hardware is very much better

Does Zune let you play non-DRM mp3 files?

And do you have to use the sucky client, or can you drag-n-drop like a USB drive?

The hardware may be better, but I have to say that the construction of the 1Gen device is pretty good.

Yes, it plays non-DRM MP3 as well as non-DRM WMA. Also WMV.

Yes, you have to use their sucky desktop software. There is a hack that allows you marginal access to the filesystem, but it doesn't work very well, and I haven't heard yet if it works with the new software.
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icekin
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« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2007, 10:30:59 PM »

Still can't play flac and ape. Looks like the best option for those folks is still to get iPod or Gigabeat and install Rockbox (http://www.rockbox.org/).
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Lashiec
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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2007, 12:40:28 PM »

Not now. iPod is locked to iTunes, and there's only an ugly hack to unlock it. Plus, Rockbox does not work on the new models.
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Dirhael
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« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2007, 07:50:30 PM »

Still can't play flac and ape. Looks like the best option for those folks is still to get iPod or Gigabeat and install Rockbox (http://www.rockbox.org/).

I'll have to disagree with you there. Even if you didn't void your warranty by flashing your device with a custom firmware, I would recommend anyone who would like those formats to buy a device that already does it natively. My reasoning for this is simple; If people keep purchasing these devices with very limited format support (iPods, Zune's etc.) and flash them with 3rd party firmwares to use unsupported codecs, it doesn't give the companies any incentive to add support for these formats in future versions of their devices. After all, the only language they understand is money and when people keep giving them just that, why would they do anything differently in the future?

One company that offers such devices is Cowon. They have devices which does both FLAC, APE & OGG in addition to the usual MP3, AAC, & WMA codecs, and this is what I want to see from the big players in the market as well...
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icekin
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« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2007, 11:58:17 PM »

I didn't know about Cowon, they don't seem to advertise much. Thanks for the information; I will be looking into their products now.
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icekin
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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2007, 12:20:58 AM »

Eh, the Cowon is only 8GB at best, which sells for $ 219. IPod is available in 60 GB models, even the older ones. When using flac, more space is needed to carry the same number of songs. I think that the only way I can be convinced to buy a cowon is if they make 60 GB models. 8GB is far too less for flacs.
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Dirhael
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« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2007, 07:30:17 AM »

Eh, the Cowon is only 8GB at best, which sells for $ 219. IPod is available in 60 GB models, even the older ones. When using flac, more space is needed to carry the same number of songs. I think that the only way I can be convinced to buy a cowon is if they make 60 GB models. 8GB is far too less for flacs.

They do have 20 & 30GB models (the X5(20/30) & M5(20) ones), but it isn't 60 as you say so it that's a requirement it would probably be best to look elsewhere. Still, I'm sure there has to be other companies delivers similar functionality in their devices. Oh and also, I do know that some of the Cowon modles can use SD/MMC cards to extend the storage, so that could be an option as well I suppose.
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« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2007, 08:19:45 AM »

I always like to root for Cowon. I hope they do well. Incidentally, their offices are across the street from me. smiley

I'm still debating what to get next though. I'm sick of my iPod Nano. It really kind of sucks. Battery life is crap. Dial is very finicky and overly sensitive. Resets positions when I'm x minutes into a 1 hour podcast and not sure exactly where... iTunes sucks. Grrr... I just want something that works right and is easy to use. The iPod falls short there. I've been thinking about the new Zune, but I'll wait for more reviews. I'm in no real rush as my iPod Nano battery still lasts an astounding 2 hours and sometimes even as much as 2.5 hours on a full charge!  undecided
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Lashiec
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« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2007, 02:07:02 PM »

If you think the Dial in the Nano is finicky, you have to try the latest generation. A disaster. Add to this the small size of the player, and you can say Apple killed their best iPod product. I have big hands and fingers, though, so there may reside some of my problems with the tiny player.

You may want to take a look to the Sansa e200 Series, they look pretty good.
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Curt
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« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2007, 08:11:56 AM »

There are still independent musicians and others who want to share the music that they make with others, but without the Zune "3 plays" restriction. Right click on a music file, click on the “Details” tab, and then change the Genre to “Podcast” as shown below. Click “okay”, and the 3-play restriction is void.




Of course this little workaround should only be used on songs that you’ve recorded, or ones which you have permission to do so - says © CyberNet | CyberNet Forum
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Ralf Maximus
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« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2007, 08:14:51 AM »

I am unclear: is this a way to bypass DRM on the consumer side, or something that the artist does to make their stuff immune to DRM?
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Lashiec
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« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2007, 08:32:14 AM »

Well... humans have free will so... it's both things.
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Ralf Maximus
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« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2007, 08:43:57 AM »

But I mean, is this something the artist does BEFORE the file is distributed, or something anyone with a Zune can do?

Seems like a huge (and obvious) DRM hole if the latter, which is why I asked.
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Lashiec
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« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2007, 08:49:33 AM »

Is something anyone which knows how to click the right button of their mouse, select "Properties", "Advanced" and change the music genre of the file can do. So, yes, an obvious and HUGE DRM hole. Which would be fixed by the next firmware, anyway, unless Microsoft wants to fight the RIAA and all the pack (they would get all my support).
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CWuestefeld
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« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2007, 08:51:53 AM »

Which would be fixed by the next firmware, anyway
Why not. It's just one more item added to the list of features removed by the "upgrade".
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Lashiec
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« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2007, 08:56:29 AM »

One caveat though. This has to be done before the song is shared.
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CWuestefeld
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« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2007, 09:02:42 AM »

Continuing to hijack my own thread...

This isn't really much of a DRM hole. In order to make the required change, you've got to start with an MP3 file, i.e., no DRM on the file. If you've got a non-protected MP3 in your hands, than wifi distribution via Zune is only a convenience; you could still post the file on your web site for the world to download, totally independent of the Zune.
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Curt
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« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2007, 01:50:20 PM »

You may be missing the point: this "trick" has nothing to do with removing DRM or not, so to speak, it is merely about playing the file more than 3 times only.
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