Microsoft Zune review

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Admittedly, none of that’s unique to the Zune. What is, however, is the built-in 802.11b/g WLAN. You can’t get on the internet with it (at least not yet), but you can use it to create an ad-hoc network with another Zune. We tracked down a fellow Zune owner, and swapped a few albums and individual tracks, all at the nippy rate of about one every six seconds. You can then listen to them three times over three days. Pictures can also be sent (with no restrictions), although video can’t. Despite the somewhat distasteful DRM restrictions (even on unprotected music), it’s a neat enough trick. But it isn’t worth moving to the US for, and it will certainly need expansion to be more than a gimmick.

Microsoft Zune review

The fundamentals are undeniably there – the great screen, the excellent onboard software and the WLAN are all major plus points. But the good bits are trapped in hide-it-under-a-book-so-no-one-sees hardware, and the PC software is a Frankenstein-like mess. Look into the potential of the product and it’s exciting (there’s even a rumour it will be usable as a SideShow device), but we’d currently be forced to say “no” if it came to a raw buying decision. We’ve no doubt that successive generations will improve, and Microsoft may even manage to replicate the Xbox phenomena with the Zune, but at this rate it will take five years.

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