Friday, August 27, 2010

The Zune is Dead

So I recently got a Zune HD and its HD output dock accessory as 720p HD output was enticing me ("too late" you'd say and I would even add "too little"). The Zune HD's OLED screen, audio quality, MPEG-4 ASP support and 720p output are its only plus points over the iPod. But I am not satisfied at all. Looks like I ended up buying exactly the loser device:
- No support for soft coded subtitles. iPod Touch and iPhone on the other hand support soft subtitles.
- No Flash player! Say no to dozens of video sites that stream Flash videos. Can you believe that? Maybe it will get one when Windows Phone 7 gets it. (C'mon Microsoft, this is only a software update, the hardware is more than capable).
- Okay, so no Flash but why not even a dedicated YouTube app. MAJOR FAIL. You call this an internet-enabled media player and it doesn't have YouTube!!! (This is also fixable Microsoft via a software update).
- No built-in microphone or even microphone in socket, so no VoIP/Skype, no voice recording. Limited by design.
- Internet Explorer mobile based on some shitty IE version, scores 5/100 on Acid3 standards compliance test and sucks at JavaScript performance, pictures are out of order on so many sites, no always on address bar, no battery meter, no bookmark button. FAIL FAIL FAIL. This issue is fixable in theory but I doubt Microsoft cares enough.
- No speaker like iPod Touch 2nd gen+ has (this isn't that big a deal but it helps when you occasionally want to show something to your friends).
- No Google Maps. iPod Touch has.
- No third party app store with 100000 apps and Games, only Microsoft supplied handful apps. No one writes games for XNA or OpenZDK. They might as well have put Android on this thing which has an active developer community.
- No Voice Control like iPod Touch 3rd gen has.
- No Zune to Zune sharing (Removed from Zune HD!!!!)
- Limited storage, no expansion (they apparently didn't get their own Zune 120 either). HD right, how can I do HD without ample storage?
- No 3G or mobile internet connectivity, only Wi-Fi (the iPod Touch doesn't have it either but iPhone has)
- No Bluetooth like iPod Touch has so no wireless headphones
- Separate dock required for HD video output (This is the final nail in the coffin which kills off any chance of Zune HD being super-successful). The price of Zune HD isn't $200, it's $290 (a $90 premium you have to pay for HD output).

Plus with the 4th gen iPod announced, Zune HD now also lacks:
4th gen iPod's:
- 960 x 640-pixel resolution at 326 pixels per inch
- H.264 Main Profile Level 3.1!!! (Holy crap Main Profile)
- HE-AAC (although WMA Pro is comparable, it's lesser used so less of a standard)
- 720p HD recording rear camera
- Front facing camera for video chat!
- 802.11n (Wireless N)
It looks like Apple took the latest iPhone and stripped off the 3G and phone functionality, GPS and some other power features.

The Zune fails harder this time. I wonder how or why it got so many positive reviews when it launched. But then so did Windows 7. If only, they added Flash and a better web browser based on a newer IE mobile (the same one Windows Phone 7 uses). But they won't. There are unconfirmed rumors of a new Zune but I doubt Microsoft can add all of these features in a single revision. Even if you ignore the fact that the Zune HD is not designed as a multi-purpose device but only to serve as a great media player, it's a major fail because an internet-enabled media player in this day and age ought to play YouTube videos.

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