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Zune 1.4 update hits; MS lagging behind?

updated 03:15 pm EDT, Thu May 31, 2007

Zune 1.4 Update

Microsoft today launched the Zune 1.4 update, a new fix for the Washington-based company's first media player. The firmware patch is said to bring more random music lists when the shuffle option is chosen more than once, fixing a problem where the list became increasingly predictable the more often it was used. The host software remains the same, Microsoft says.

Although considered an important upgrade, the isolation of the change has already triggered a string of complaints from existing owners, many of whom are increasingly seeing the lack of feature upgrades or more widespread fixes as a sign that the current Zune will be abandoned when its sequels arrive this fall.

"This Christmas I will have to purchase an iPod," says one user. "I do not have the money to invest in a substandard/featureless 'Beta' product that will be forgotten about when the next version is released," he said.

Although released later than competing offerings from Apple, Creative, and other rivals, the current 30GB Zune has been acknowledged by its creator as focusing only on core features in its existing version, which omits support for gapless playback, podcast management, and support for the company's own protected Windows Media format.

by MacNN Staff




  1. KailDathmar

    Joined: Dec 1969



    So you're saying you are going to buy an iPod, because you don't get the firmware upgrades you want with the Zune. Just to let you know you get zero firmware upgrades with the iPod. Any and all upgrades are handled in new gen hardware. At least with the Zune you get the chance that an upgrade will happen with your model.

  1. marthill

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I don't know what planet you live on KailDathmar, but Apple updates the firmware on their iPods quite often to enable new features or fix bugs. Let's see - some firmware updates I've received for my 60GB Video iPod enabled gapless playback, enabled 640x480 H264 video playback, games etc.

    As far as the Zune is concerned, as Iíve posted elsewhere, it is still lacking in all these areas against the iPod:

    - 46% larger volume than the 30GB iPod (13% larger than even the 80GB iPod) - 35% thicker and 8% taller than the 30GB iPod - 17% heavier than the 30GB iPod (1% heavier than the 80GB iPod) - Zune Chunky vs slim and elegant iPod according to Wall Street Journal - 2hrs less battery life than the 30GB iPod (in real-world tests) - 12-14hrs battery life for Zune vs 20hrs for 80GB iPod or 24hrs for iPod Nano - WiFi reduces battery life by 2hrs+ in real-world tests - no WiFi to Computer or Internet only other Zune Players - 5 buttons on imitation click-wheel instead of scroll wheel for navigation - 3 million songs in Zune Marketplace vs 5 million on iTunes Store - No TV shows in Zune Marketplace - No Podcasts in Zune Marketplace - No Music Videos in Zune Marketplace - No Movies in Zune Marketplace - No Audiobooks in Zune Marketplace - No Games in Zune Marketplace - No unlimited streaming music library sharing between computers on same subnet or wifi network unlike iTunes software - Confusing points system for music purchase - $5 minimum purchase - No Calendar on Zune so no calendar synching - No Address Book on Zune so no contacts synching - No Note viewing or synching on Zune - No pre-installed games on Zune - No Alarm Clock, No Stopwatch, no World Clock, No password-protected volume-limiter, No Equalizer, - only ~100 accessories for Zune vs 3,000+ for iPod - No auto integration for Zune vs 80% of new cars iPod dock connector compatible (not just audio connector) - Zune adds yet another DRM standard to crowded field - Zune not compatible with Plays For Sure so can't play music bought from Microsoft's own MSN music or other MS licensees (MS has knifed it's partners) - Zune not compatible with Windows media player, the MS standard for MP3 player integration - Zune Windows-only vs Windows and Mac compatible iPod - half the songs ripped from CDs by reviewer would not transfer to Zune Player - 3 models (colours) of Zune vs Shuffle, 6 Nano models, 30GB Video iPod and 80GB Video iPod (plus Red and U2 versions of Nano and larger iPods) - Fewer supported audio formats: Zune: WMA, MP3, non-protected AAC iPod: AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, MP3, WAV, Audible - No gapless playback - No USB Disk mode so can't use for file transfer/storage on PC - plastic case on Zune vs metal case back for iPod or all-metal for Nano - 3-day or 3 play limit on DRM and non-DRM shared music (even 1 second playback counts) - No passing on shared music to a third Zune player - no synching of purchased music

  1. marthill

    Joined: Dec 1969


    response to kalidathmar

    (cont'd) (hmm, so much for my line-breaks)

    - no synching of purchased music from Zune up to other computer (new iPod feature) - No equivalent to iTunes Gift certificates - No equivalent to iTunes Allowances (monthly store credit for kids) - No user-submitted playlists - Weak FM radio reception - No Recording - Zune player and Zune Marketplace USA-only - The word "zune" is obscene in Hebrew and French-Canadian - No Zune Phone

    Only a few somewhat tainted pros that I can see:

    - WiFi music sharing (though 50% of songs purchased by reviewer on Zune store had sharing disabled) - DJ mode for broadcasting what you're playing to other Zune users (actually, MS dropped this feature - it could have been good) - 3" screen vs 2.5" on iPod (though same 320 x 240 resolution so album art looks more blocky on Zune in portrait mode) - Integration with Xbox 360 (iPod only works on Xbox with non-DRM music) - FM Radio built-in ($49 option for iPod) - Rubber-feel plastic case doesn't scratch as easily as Face of iPod Video - Subscription option for music ($180 per year pretty expensive though for music that is deleted if offline for a month or cease subscription) - Guest Synchronisation option to copy songs from other PC (but not back up to your PC) * Attractive customisable background pictures and transparent menus

    And you still recommend a Zune? The mind boggles.


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