Zune HD review---Long post!

Discussion in 'Other MP3 Players' started by Peter Atkinson, Oct 8, 2009.

  1. Peter Atkinson

    Peter Atkinson New Member

    I got my Zune HD & I'm very impressed.

    I've been a Zune owner for a while, now. I already have the 1st generation 30GB & the 2nd gen 8GB models.

    I can't compare it to any iPod because I've never "touch"ed one. I'll keep this review informative. I do apologize for the length of this post.

    I got the black 16GB Zune HD. It's thinner than my other Zunes & is only slightly smaller than the 30BG model. As the HD's touch screen covers most of the unit's face, it's the largest screen off all the Zunes. There are only 3 buttons: The "home" button at the bottom of the front, just below the screen, the "media" button is on the upper-left side, & the "power" button is in the middle of the top of the unit. The headphone jack & sync port are along the bottom. With it's thinness, large surface & the touch screen, I don't think I will be slipping it into my pants pocket. I'll keep my 8GB for that.

    The touch screen is bright & the colors are brilliant & true to life, but not over-saturated. The contrast is exceptional. Blacks on the screen are totally devoid of light. Even in complete darkness, you can't notice the screen edges. The whites can be very bright if the brightness is set to high. However, the screen will wash out in direct sunlight, unlike the 8GB's screen which will reflect the image a bit in bright light even after the backlight has gone to sleep.

    The touch aspect of the screen is very good. Motions are very fluid & the sensitivity is precise. I did have some trouble touching tiny links on some web pages, though. The other minor nuisance is fingerprints.

    I've always liked the Zune's OS, & the HD's OS is even better. Other than the touch screen operation of menus & lists, I think the "quicplay feature is a nice touch. You can "pin" an item to this screen & it will always be close at hand. There's also a "history" screen that shows the last few items used. Whether it's music, games, web pages, videos or radio stations, this is a quick way of getting back to the most recent content. These 2 items are to the left of the familiar "home" menu.

    Navigating lists is a breeze with the touch screen. Just drag your finger up or down a list or menu & the list scrolls with it. You control the speed. When a song is playing, you can scroll to the next or previous song with a left or right drag of a finger.

    One of the "HD" aspects of the Zune HD, is the fact that you can play HD (720p only) videos through your 720p compatible TV. I did not test this feature, as it requires a special dock. I use my Zune for videos on the go, so I couldn't justify the extra expense for the dock.

    Video & photograph clarity on the Zune HD is very good. As mentioned earlier, the contrast & color are stunning. The screen resolution (480 x 272) is nice & crist. However, I did notice that the upcoming song list that appears below the currently-playing song title is a bit too small for the screen's resolution. Lake all Zunes the HD has to be turned on it's side for proper video & photo display.

    The other HD function of the Zune HD is FM HD Radio. The HD has the most sensitive receiver of all the Zunes. I live 45 miles from Milwaukee & I was able to get all the stations that offered HD service, with only one exception. I also got the HD to work on one of the Chicago stations at 65 miles. Tuning the radio is a very touchy affair with the touch screen. You drag your finger along the "dial" to change the frequency. There are plenty of presets you can set. I just use those.

    I'm not a really big gamer, but I did download the game "Hexic". I've played this game on my other Zunes & I find it relaxing. I found it maddening on the HD. The game's object is to mach hexagonal tiles to that of the same color. A group of 3 tiles is selected & you can move the selection, then spin the group of 3 to see if they cause a match with nearby tiles. On the other Zunes, once you navigate the selected group, you hit the center button to spin the group. On the HD, you can touch the group you want to spin, but spinning it is the hard part. You need to move your finger in just the right circular motion to get it to spin. Do it wrong & you move your selection.

    Web browsing is very rudimentary, but most web pages will display fine. When you turn the HD on it's side, a wider portion of the page can be viewed. The "keyboard" that is used for entering information is very small, but as you drag your finger along the rows of "keys", they are enlarged so you can tell what character you're selecting. There is no online video playback functionality, so YouTube is out of the question. But, if you want to look something up, or check your online email, this definitely will do the trick.

    I did have one problem with the wireless connectivity, though. I had no trouble using the wireless functions the first time I tried it, but when I tried it later, I got a message about not being able to connect because of a "DHCP failure". I reset my wireless router, now everything's connecting fine.

    I've always enjoyed the elegance, simplicity of the Zune desktop software. The presentation is straightforward & uncluttered. The only real downside I see to the Zune HD, is the lack of apps for the device. Right now, there are only 9 apps & 7 are games. I could use more than just a weather reporting app & a calculator. I'm sure that there will be more coming soon, though. Personally I would love a contact manager & a calendar.

    Finally...I think Microsoft has a winner, here, if they would just come out with more apps.
    Vargas likes this.
  2. hexagram

    hexagram Medicinal & Recreational.

    Good read. :bigthumbup:

    Looks like I don't need to write a review for the Zune HD anymore. :p
  3. Vargas

    Vargas Molon Labe!

    Good review.

    I like pics--post em if you've got em of the zune.

    Questions:

    Can you customize the UI?

    Sound? How does it sound vs other players or even other zunes.
  4. Peter Atkinson

    Peter Atkinson New Member

    You can't customize the UI.

    The sound is very good. I have 2 Sony players that I though were the best sounding because they have a 5-band EQ, but the 30GB Zune sounds better, even with a "peset" EQ choices. The HD also has the preset EQ (acoustic, classical, electronic, hip hop, Jazz, pop, rock & none). I seem to like the acoustic setting. I would still love an 5-bander.

    As far as photos. I've never posted pics to a forum like this. If someone could help with that, I'll be happy to take the shots.
  5. hexagram

    hexagram Medicinal & Recreational.

    I believe he's referring to the background.

    Pictures > press and hold photo [in thumbnail view] > Apply as background
  6. hexagram

    hexagram Medicinal & Recreational.

    Have you tested WMA Lossless yet? Maybe, made some comparisons with your [v0/v2] MP3s?

    Integration wtih Xbox 360?
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2009
  7. Peter Atkinson

    Peter Atkinson New Member

    Hexagram is right. You can add a photo as a background, just as the other Zunes do.

    I can't comment on XBOX 360 integration. I don't own an XBOX.
  8. Vargas

    Vargas Molon Labe!

    Awesome, thank you.

    I heard that they sound really good but I have not had the pleasure of listening.

    What headphones do you rock with that badboy?
  9. DAB

    DAB Mod Emeritus

    That is a good review!

    Thanks for post it.
  10. Peter Atkinson

    Peter Atkinson New Member

    I normally use a pair or 3-year-old Sony earbuds that have served me so well. But since I've started with Zunes, I find that the earbuds that come with these players are surprisingly good. The earbuds that came with my 2 Sony players are also superb.

    Usually the headphones/earbuds that ship with portable devices are very bad, so I was very surprised with these recent ones.
  11. Grüpsaar

    Grüpsaar DRC Forum Bum

    Good review, I also just bought a 16GB zuneHD yesterday. My 30Gig finally started freaking out and not working after 2 years. It stopped syncing songs, and would randomly shut down and when it restarted, it would display an error message saying I needed to agree to erase all content in order to repair my zune. So, that was obnoxious. So, along came my decision to get the ZuneHD...

    I have to say, I am in love with it. The only real gripe I have with it is the volume and next track scheme. I am so used to always being able to just hit the volume or next track buttons while the player is in my pocket, this goes all the way back to when i used to have a portable cd player in school. I like being able to just feel for thte button and hit it. with the HD, you must hit the side button, and it pulls up a volume and track control menu on the touchscreen that you need to really look at to navigate, which means taking it out of your pocket. But, this is something I'll just need to adjust to.

    Also, going from 30 gigs of music on me at a time to 16 was hard. I had to really sift through what I wanted to take with me and what I could leave behind. But, I am a zune pass subscriber, so I swap out stuff a lot and download things on a whim via the marketplace on the zune itself, so it's not so bad. I like being able to pull up an artists discography right from the albums list and then being able to instantly download it via the zunepass when connected to Wifi. I think that's great. Just being able to scroll through all the albums a band has out whenever is a nice feature.

    The zune's screensaver feature is pretty slick, too. When you select an artist, it instantly displays a background image with the band or album art, assuming they aren't some random local band or something you've created yourself. Once you leave it idle for a little bit, the zune will switch to a 'screensaver' and it will scroll the text of the artist and song name all over the screen in different directions and the time and track length and position, with nice background images also. Very slick and good on the eyes, overall. I was impressed with just how nicely everything looks on this. Navigating menu's is downright fun for me. I know that sounds nerdy, but I can't help it.

    Anyways, I could go on, I didn't plan on writing this much, but I just can't help myself. I love this thing!
  12. KTMCDO

    KTMCDO Member

    i love my zunehd as well just wish they would release more apps and open em up to 3rd parties
  13. HecticArt

    HecticArt Administrator

    Just wait for the release of the iZune, that'll have more apps than you can shake a magic mouse at.

    I kid! The Mrs opted for a 120 gb standard Zune. I'm impressed but I do kinda wish she was interested in the HD.

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