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"What the hell is a Zune?"

Charles Barkley continues to be my favorite thing on "Inside the NBA."
The show needs Ernie Johnson's Emmy-winning presence, Kenny Smith's credible insights and the frequent guest turns from Magic Johnson, but for sheer entertainment value nothing beats Sir Charles, who never restricts himself to just basketball, using the show to make glib, funny (sometimes unintentionally so) remarks on everything from race to fashion to anything else under the sun. He also takes being frequently mocked by the other hosts really well.

His latest gem; as the show was about to go to a video break sponsored by Microsoft's Zune,
"So what the hell is a Zune?"
After learning what a Zune is during the break, he goes:
"OK, so when am I getting my free one? I love being rich. You never have to pay for anything."

So this got me thinking about the Zune again, which I hadn't in ages (not a good sign for Redmond.) When it came out, I had been intrigued by MS's decision to break with the "software platform, not hardware" approach that had served them so well in the PC market and they expected to replicate in the mobile and MP3 player markets. I figured they wouldn't be able to break the iPod monopoly anytime soon, but it could make things interesting. The jury is still out on that one...

While the pictures looked good and promising, I finally laid my hands on a Zune a couple of weeks ago. I have to kinda, sorta agree with the comments of an executive at Apple.

"Don't you think the brown one really looks like a piece of sh#t?"

Compared to the iPod (which it has to be), the device looked extremely clunky; not heavy just ridiculously clumsy. I heard this story once of a Rio engineer/manager who was listening to his device. Someone sitting next to him then took out the just released first version of the iPod. The engineer was so embarrassed by his work when he saw the iPod, he immediately put his device back in. That's how the guys who worked on the Zune should feel.

The iPod has set a standard for design that the Zune doesn't even attempt to come close to. The UI when I tinkered with it was pretty clumsy as well. The one or two extra features that the device boasts (wireless networking/sharing) cool as they are, aren't going to make up for this huge design gap.

I'm still hoping that the Zune gets better fast. MS's online network is decent and with Amazon's digital music announcement, the space could get interesting again.


shmoo said…
I'm about reading to buy a Creative Zen Vision:M, I just need to go check it out in a store first.
shmoo said…
And by "reading" I mean "ready".
Satyajeet said…
Heard good things about that one actually.

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