The digital media player software battle has consistently been dominated by iTunes as more users convert to Apple computers. To compete with the turnover, Zune’s research and development team worked hard to figure out how their users could benefit from searching for music. With thorough research, Zune discovered friends and radio stations were the ways in which music heads and tastemakers discovered new music. Both software and handheld device capitalizes on each aspect of sources for music discovery, making it user friendly enough for anyone to find what they are looking for. Packed with tweaks and surprises, Zune’s 3.0 software update gives music lovers another reason to spend hours on their computer and Zune players.
Zune’s Marketplace optimizes on the hottest news releases through organized features such as picks related to your listening habits, channels, podcasts, videos, and music. The Music section of Marketplace is where you can catch up on top 5 albums, playlists, songs and videos, and discover what the new releases are for the week. Updated frequently, the “We Recommend” feature is blog inspired with fewer words and tons of music. You can find posts ranging from Election 2008 to High School Musical to XBox 360. In case you were a music lover that missed CMJ week, look no further. Within the “We Recommend” section, Zune provides 272 songs from artists involved in the marathon held in New York that could all be yours with just a click of your mouse. If you subscribe to The Green Room, Zune offers a video podcast detailing their latest interviews with your favorite artists from Nas to Oasis. Marketplace’s Channels are regularly updated and can only be accessed if you are a Zune Pass holder. Subscribing to a channel gives you approximately 25 fresh new tracks sent to your Collection, which makes new music easier to acquire than searching in Zune’s 4 million song catalog. The Picks section of Marketplace are generated based on your listening habits. This feature won’t be of any use if you’re not listening to music actively on the software. Zune’s Video and Podcast sections aren’t anything diferent from other digital media player software already out there.
Zune’s Social is free. This is the place where Zune members network their taste in music with other music lovers. Through your profile, other users can learn more about you through the music you listen to without typing an introductory paragraph in your profile. The Social section also provides a feature for users to upload songs and videos of their own, as long as it is of the appropriate file type. In your Social profile, other Zune users can find out what you have been listening to by viewing your Zune card, which provides a digital snapshot of your recent listening activities, your favorite songs, and the amount of times you’ve played each song. If you’re an avid MySpace and Facebook user, you can showcase your Zune card in your profile page through a third party application.
The coolest feature this software has is called Mixview. The Mixview cloud provides the Zune user more information about the artist or user they are viewing from new music to related artists without leaving your screen. The cloud moves smoothly and effortlessly giving the user a clear visual summary of artists or other Zune users, based on the content in the Mixview cloud. For example, if you were to select a Lil Wayne Mixview, his cloud would feature his top two listeners, artists influenced by Lil Wayne, related artists such as Nelly, and artists Lil Wayne was influenced by. If you were to click on a user’s Mixview, their cloud would include their favorite artists, favorite album, recently played artist, recently played album, the user’s top artist, and two friends of the user. Mixview can be accessed throughout the software.
For the price of a newly released CD, Zune Pass allows you unlimited access each month to download as much music as your computer can handle. Some users have saved $10,000 taking advantage of this membership. If you forget to pay your monthly fee of $14.99, the software locks you out until you renew your subscription without removing any of the music you downloaded. Opting out of a subscription can cost you about $0.79 a song.
Sync with Zune 2
Zune 2 devices were ahead of the game, as it was already equipped with WiFi, Track sharing, FM Radio, MP3 and WMA audio. For users using older Zune devices, firmware was released to update handhelds to take advantage of the new features. Competing with iPhone and Starbucks internet deal, Zune and McDonalds also have a WiFi deal. While in the restaurant, you can have access to Zune Marketplace through McDonalds’ wireless internet.
Zune 3.0 can be great for users heavily into the overwhelming grind to search for new music. If used frequently, features throughout the software can become your friend as it gets to know your habits, recommends new music, and gives you opportunities to step outside of the box to make it easier by the week to get first dibs on new music. If you’re not big on using the software and not a big fan of social networks, you’re more than likely going to grow annoyed at the features that benefit the avid user. With Zune’s forward thinking, via news features and competitive offers, Zune 3.0 and corresponding devices are a great way to download songs and find out what tastemakers are listening to without the tedious work to search through an overwhelming music catalog.
To download the software, or for more information, visit Zune.net.