Zune 3.0 “software” mini-review

For those who care, the Zune 3.0 update was released earlier this week…. on my birthday, in fact!  It turned out to be a very nice extra birthday present, though it had the potential of *seriously* ruining my day, had the update bricked my Zune or deleted my entire library!  That didn’t happen, thankfully.  🙂

Here’s a quick review of the Zune 3.0 update and what I like/dislike so far…

You would expect that upon launching the Zune software, it would notify you that a “new update is available” and proceed from there.  I honestly don’t remember if that was the case or not at home, but on my work computer this morning I was not prompted to update.  Instead, I clicked on Settings > General and manually “Checked for updates”.  The update was found and I began the upgrade process.  Total time was about 10 minutes to upgrade.  My settings/options were preserved on both my home and work computers, with no “rediscovering” of my library or Zune devices necessary.  It was honestly quite seamless, though my home computer did require a reboot.  Most likely because of the multiple logins that we run at home.

Upon connecting my Zune device while the Zune software was running, I was informed that my device firmware needed to be updated.  The device itself restarts two times, I believe, and also takes approximately 10 minutes.  Both our Zune80 and Zune30 devices updated just fine.  No bricks here!

The Zune software doesn’t look that different, as you might expect, though I could tell that there was more going on.  The default background has a “digital/pixel” feel, which is cool, I guess.  I also noticed a type of ‘graphic eq visualization’ on the bottom of the Zune window — while music is playing, of course — that is pretty cool.  Not bars or waves, but rather a ‘glowing’ that swells with the music.  Nice!  Most noticeably, though, is that the software feels “faster” and more responsive.  Others have noted this as well, so I’m guessing that some effort was put into streamlining the Zune 3.0 software

One of the new “views” in the desktop software is called MixView, and it’s pretty cool.  Click on a friend, album, artist, or whatever, and you can choose the MixView option.  MixView creates a graphical display around the item you selected and shows related artists, friends, and albums.  It’s pretty cool, actually, and fun to look at.  I’d like to see how MixView grows in the future, as the current information is somewhat limited.

A new item on the marketplace menu is called Picks.  Basically, it gives you a display of albums, songs, artists and friends based upon your musical tastes — presumably derived from your music collection.  Nice to glance over from time to time, and a welcome addition.

(By the way, I’m not sure why “Barenaked Ladies” or “Metro Station” were recommended to me.)

How does one describe the “channels” feature?  How about “dynamic playlists that you subscribe to”?!  That pretty much sums it up.  Like KEXP?  Then subscribe to their channel where a list of 20 songs is chosen by them and changed out weekly, I presume.  Haven’t used channels yet, but I’d like to check it out.

The 3.0 version of the Zune software is a nice, evolutionary upgrade.  “Not ‘revolutionary'”, you ask?  No, and that’s just fine.  The Zune community has already gone through a major software upgrade with the jump from the 1.0 to the 2.0 version last year, but this is building upon the 2.0 foundation that was already laid.  Quite honestly, the Zune software feels powerful, snappy, stable, and is fun to use.  Moreover, the Zune Pass “subscription” model really makes the ‘Welcome To The Social’ moniker feel like a real thing.

I’ll follow up with my thoughts on the Zune 3.0 “device” update soon…


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