Who reading this has an iPod? Who here has used iTunes? Wow, that sure is a lot of people… Anyhoo, who here has had their iPod and iTunes drive them crazy with all the crazy file restrictions and lack of functionality? Finally, who is tired of having to buy some little Chinese, slave-labor-produced piece of crap from the antiestablishment company Apple, who is making money hand over fist on gullible consumers who seem to have it in their minds that everything that Apple produces is the be-all, end-all of any tech product? Me, too! Thankfully, we finally have a legitimate competitor from the company that we all like to think of as the Evil Empire.
This wonderful new product is called the Zune, made by Microsoft. It comes with a capacity of 30 gigabytes and has a built-in Wi-Fi receiver. Furthermore, the Zune will also have a built-in FM receiver and transmitter. This will allow Zune users to listen to FM radio stations, as well as transmit the music they are listening to their car stereo to listen to in the car, without having to plunk down $30 for the FM transmitter that is the same color as the iPod that you bought. Complementing the FM transmitter is a screen that is larger than the iPod’s and set up with a widescreen aspect ratio, allowing users to watch widescreen video clips without the awkward stretching that occurs on the iPod, making the picture quality oh so much better. Microsoft is also making sure that the Zune will be compatible with the Xbox 360, allowing for users to connect the Zune to the Xbox and watch video clips from their Zune on their TV, as well as view photos and listen to their music on the stereo hooked up the television. However, the best, most compelling feature of the Zune is the Wi-Fi capability. If I had a Zune and someone else walked up to me with one, I would be able to share my photos, films and, of course, music with that person, and that person would be able to share his or her music with me. Furthermore, if you had a wireless network in your house, you would be able to sync your Zune without ever having to connect it to your PC with a cable.
One of my favorite aspects of the Zune is the way that users can purchase music for it. Microsoft will sell songs for 99 cents, just like iTunes, but they will be available through Microsoft’s Zune Marketplace. Additionally, the part that I am most excited about is the simple interface that will be used to add and remove tracks, compared to the iPod, which forces you to use their craptacular iTunes software – probably the most buggy PC software since Windows ME.
Not to go off on a tangent, but the way that iTunes completely takes control of my entire PC and attempts to force me to choose it to manage my collection of music and video drives me insane. In fact, I hate it so much that I completely removed iTunes from my PC – but I digress. With the Zune, it would be just like connecting a flash drive to your PC. All you have to do is drag and drop the songs into the device, and you are done. There’s no waiting to sync with iTunes and no forced Digital Rights Management – just pure simplicity in playing, purchasing and managing the music you want to listen to.
With the introduction of the Zune, there is finally a legitimate competitor with the iPod. Hopefully, if nothing else it will force Apple to start adding some much-needed features to the iPod, like a better way to manage the music on the device, as well an FM receiver so I can finally watch TV at the gym with sound, without having to drag along a completely separate radio. Lastly, I hope that the Zune completely blows the iPod out of the water and finally ushers Apple’s crap player into the electronic graveyard of obsolescence. Death to the iPod! Who’s with me?
Daily Nexus columnist Matt Suedkamp came here to chew bubble gum and kick iPod’s ass – and he’s all out of bubble gum.