The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg and The New York Times’ David Pogue, two of the most well known and widely read tech columnists, both give less than stellar marks to Microsoft’s Zune media player in their reviews of the device today. While both writers give the Zune credit for a handful of features—with Pogue even calling the device “excellent” at one point—they both offer up fairly damaging final reviews.
“This first Zune has too many compromises and missing features to be as good a choice as the iPod for most users,” Mossberg writes. “The hardware feels rushed and incomplete. It is 60% larger and 17% heavier than the comparable iPod. It has much worse battery life for music than the iPod or than Microsoft claims—at least two hours less than the iPod’s, in my tests. Despite the larger screen, many album covers look worse than they do on the iPod. And you can’t share music libraries between computers like you can with iTunes… Overall, the iPod and iTunes are still the champs. Still, I expect the Zune to attract some converts and to get better with time. And this kind of competition from a big company with deep pockets and lots of talent is good for consumers in the long run.”
“Competition is good and all. But what, exactly, is the point of the Zune?” asks Pogue. “It seems like an awful lot of duplication—in a bigger, heavier form with fewer features—just to indulge Microsoft’s ‘we want some o’ that’ envy. Wireless sharing is the one big new idea—and if the public seems to respond, Apple could always add that to the iPod… The Zune 1.0 player is pretty barren, too. It doesn’t have a single standard iPod amenity: no games, alarm clock, stopwatch, world clock, password-protected volume limiter, equalizer, calendar, address book or notes module. Incredibly, you can’t even use the Zune as an external hard drive, as you can with just about every other player on earth.”