Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Accessories Can't Come Zune Enough

I'm enjoying my Zune, but there's no way this thing is going to be an iPod killer anytime soon (I'm done with the puns, I promise).

Two weekends ago I finally updated my computer's Operating System and got my Zune up and running. I then spent the next few days loading it up and reviewing potential accessories online. I do most of my music-listening in the car, so I was specifically interested in a car adaptor. I went back to the Zune website and quickly found what I was looking for: a Zune car pack with an FM transmitter. Price: $80. Basically you tune your car radio to an unused channel, then tune the FM transmitter that's plugged into your Zune to the same frequency, and vua...vou...vwall...ta-daa, you're in business.

In theory. I had questions about how well the thing worked, so I didn't order it right away. I also had a couple of Best Buy gift cards, so I ventured into their local store to check it out. After all, Best Buy had the Zune accessories on their website. Why wouldn't they have them in their stores?

Well, they didn't. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. Not a good way to kill the iPod. I don't know why Best Buy wouldn't stock Zune accessories and their associates didn't seem to know either. Shocker. They simply didn't have them and were surprised when I told them their website did. However, what they did have in excess were iPod accessories...rows and rows of iPod stuff. Death is in the pot! Not!

I decided to check out an iPod, since I had never really looked at one, and compare it to the Zune. As soon as I picked up the iPod I questioned my decision to keep the Zune. The iPod is thinner, lighter, and sleeker than the Zune. And the flywheel on the iPod is simply amazing, making navigation through the music library a breeze. I nearly turned around and went right home to pack up the Zune. Unfortunately I have too much vested in it already.

The three things the Zune has going for it are the larger screen (great picture, but possibly contributing to its bulkiness), a sexier looking interface, and a built-in FM tuner. The feature that Microsoft is touting the most is its wireless file-sharing capabilities, which may prove to be significant in the future, but for now seems to be fairly lame. I haven't used the feature yet, but apparently there are only a limited amount of songs that can be shared, and shared songs can only be listened to a limited amount of times. So overall it seems pretty...limited.

But after spending $100 on a system upgrade and ripping at least 100 CD's, I decided to keep my Zune. I flagged down an associate and asked him how well the FM transmitters performed in general. He told me that he had one and it worked great. Good enough. I thanked him and returned home to order the transmitter through Best Buy's website, using my Best Buy gift cards. That was last Tuesday. Last time I checked the UPS tracking info (ummm, roughly 2 seconds ago), my transmitter was still in Denver. It's been in Denver for three days, which is not a Microsoft issue, but still! Dude, I just want to listen to my Zune in the car!

I do like my Zune. It's much cooler than any player I've ever owned and it puts my other mp3 players to shame. But, come on Microsoft. An iPod killer? Get real. It's not designed as well as an iPod, you can't buy songs as easily as you can with an iPod (I didn't even touch on that one), and I can't even buy a Zune accessory at a major national retailer. And when I do order it online, it takes over a week to get here? These people need to get their shact together. An iPod killer? So far, the Zune doesn't even leave a scratch.


JimmyJett said...

My wife went to Best Buy to buy me the Home A/V Pack for Christmas. Not only did Best Buy not carry it, the sales associate argued with her. He claimed that the Zune is so new there are simply no accessories for it. Even though many other stores carried the very same pack and had done so since the Zune release date. She went next door to Staples and bought the A/V Pack and a leather case.

I have been to Best Buy many times since and my experience is the same, VERY little Zune accessories.

the battered ham said...

Thanks for the feedback. So basically the issue is one with Best Buy rather than a lack of distribution effort on Microsoft's part. Good to know. I didn't even bother checking other stores since I had the gift cards. In the future, I'll be sure to shop elsewhere for my Zune accessories.

Anonymous said...

I currently work at Best Buy doing Car Stereo installations.. All major CD players now come with a USB port! I got so excited I got one myself hoping it would be the first CD players to work with my Zune... Unfortunatly this is not the case. The USB is for IPOD and Memory sticks ONLY!!!?! As far as the FM transmitter, in a major city (like me in Atlanta GA) Its not even worth trying! So I decided to hook you up with the "411" on Zune listening in your car. Get a decent $99 CD player with a Front AUX (which means it has a 1/8th jack input), and have it installed ($95) This way you will have to control your music through your Zune, but have it play FLAWLESSLY through your car speakers! Other than this method I wouldnt spend the money on the "Zune" branded FM transmitter, I would just buy a cheap 25$ FM transmitter. Only downfall is that it wont charge your Zune. WHICH BTW constant charging of a laptop/cellphone/Zune/Ipod gives the battery "memory" and overtime wont have a battery life span it needs. So I suggest NOT charging it while listening in your car anyways...

Sorry for the length, Hopes this helps a little... Jeremy

Jimmie Lee said...

Well, I love my zune. I just don't like that everywhere I go, most of the accessories are for an ipod. My dad has a belkin plug and play amp for his ipod. It amps up the sound in his car. It plugs into the base of his ipod. I would love something like that for the zune. If anyone knows of anything, please let me know. Thanks.