Turn on the Zune and the first thing that strikes you is the 3in screen that dominates the front of the unit. While it works well in portrait mode for navigating your music collection, where it really shines is video - turn it to landscape mode and you can view widescreen content on a relatively large scale for a portable player.
Unfortunately, you'll have to transcode any video content into WMV format first as that's the only type of video the Zune will play natively.
The interface is simple to use - especially once you realise that the round thing at the bottom is actually four buttons for up, down, left and right and not an iPod-style click wheel. The interface is very similar to the one Microsoft developed for its Portable Media Center platform, with the ability to go left and right in menus as well as up and down, which can speed up navigation.
Zune's user interface in action...
Video not playing? You'll need the latest Flash player
Audio quality is very good - even through the bundled headphones, which are capable of producing a moderate amount of bass and can be pushed fairly loud without distorting too much. The headphones are also magnetic, so stick together when not in use which prevents wire tangles.
In addition to MP3 and WMA tracks, the Zune can also play back unprotected AAC content - so if you ripped all your albums in iTunes in the default AAC format you can still play them on a Zune without having to convert them to WMA or MP3 first.
Overall i found it disappointing
Good: The mpeg4 playback was good & I didn't have to convert to wmp. It sounds good as the above comments mentioned
Bad: The 'squirting' feature only works on about half of the songs available on the zune marketplace, at least that's what I've found. The zune points system just as the xbox 360 system is a joke. It's too big... I also just heard about MS paying Warner Brothers per Zune sold!? WTF?
I bought it to replace an aging iPod but regret it now. The limitations exceed its usefulness.
I, believe it or not have both an iPod and a Zune for work and whilst the iPod is an icon of design and all that blah I do have to say that the sound quality out of the headphone socket is far superior to the iPod. Obviously I don't use the in-pack headphones because they are rubbish but I haven't gone mad either, I am just using some £30 Sennheiser CX 300's.
The Zune sounded a lot more musical to me and better paced than the iPod.
At the end of the day what is more important? The sound quality or the UI?
Long live the Zune :)
I have a Zune at home and found the build quality to be good. The only thing was that the case supplied was not very useful and so I purchased another case which better protects the device while continuing to keep usablity.
The Zune will also read MP4 content as well as WMV & the fact I can dump pretty much any type of music to it is very useful.
Ripping CDs give you the option to save in DRM format or a standard MP3 or WMA. I would give it 9/10.