Andy Ihnatko's Scathing Zune Review

If the Zune's disastrous non-feature on CNN was its death knell, then Andy Ihnatko's review in the Chicago Sun-Times was its corpse being exhumed and defiled.

The first two paragraphs are pretty damning and tell you everything you need to know about the review:

Yes, Microsoft's new Zune digital music player is just plain dreadful. I've spent a week setting this thing up and using it, and the overall experience is about as pleasant as having an airbag deploy in your face.

“Avoid,” is my general message. The Zune is a square wheel, a product that's so absurd and so obviously immune to success that it evokes something akin to a sense of pity.

The installation process for Andy's Zune was actually worse than my experiences installing Release Candidate 1 of Microsoft Vista. All I had to do was reboot and deal with the loss of data that I'd hoped to keep (I made backups before installing, as one should); Andy had to delve a little deeper into the machine by manually creating and installing a .DLL file. This is something that I'd be loath to do, and I was a Windows developer in an earlier life! However, that's what the Zune tech support page recommends when the installer fails. As Andy puts it: “Is this really what parents want to be doing at 4 a.m. on Christmas morning?”

The rest of the review is essentially a laundry list of the Zune's failings, both technological and philosophical:

  • Not compatible with Windows Media Player.
  • Not compatible with PlysForSure tunes; you have to buy them again at their online store, Zune Marketplace.
  • You have to buy songs using the XBox Live-inspired point system, and some songs cost more than others.
  • Part of the proceeds from the sale of every Zune goes to the music industry, because they assume as an MP3 player owner, you're a no-good thief.
  • The WiFi feature can only share tunes, and those last for only three days or three plays, whichever comes first.

Our recommendation for the Zune as a Christmas gift: you could give it to someone you hate, but you could also leave a paper bag full of manure at that person's doorstep and set it on fire. The effect is the same, and you'll save money.