Retrevo gang tests out Microsoft Zune OOBE

So, what should I do with the two Zunes today to test them out? Well, I didn’t open them last night. This morning I came in and brought them to an interview at Retrevo where we opened them for the first time and then spent more than an hour playing with them and passing them around the engineering team and talking about the first impressions of the Zune. Retrevo is a gadget search engine that’s pretty interesting. They say it’s the ultimate consumer electronics search engine.

Here’s their engine’s result set for Zune.

There’s eight guys from the Retrevo team including engineers, marketers, and the CEO, Vipin Jain.

First off disaster. The one Microsoft loaded had an error on it and needed to be rebooted, which deleted all the content on it. (One was opened and loaded by Microsoft with more content, that one arrived with an error on its screen. The other one, unopened by Microsoft, worked perfectly).

We fixed that and then started playing. The install took more than 15 minutes.

What do the geeks at Retrevo think?

Andrew Eisner (who used to be in charge of testing for ZDLabs and also ran MacUser labs) says that the radio wasn’t very good. Needed to walk over by the window to use it. But, that’s unscientific.

The entire team has iPods. So, this is an experienced music player group. The team says they are all gadget freaks, which is why they work at a gadget search engine.

Other reactions?

Box? The external box is great, Charles Wilson says.

The feel of the Zune? Great. “Brown is the new black,” Matthew Stotts says. We have one brown and one black. It feels a lot nicer than it looks on the Web. Nice anti-scratch design. “I like the translucence,” Charles says.

Interface? Scroll wheel? Matthew says he instantly tried to use it like an iPod. Was disappointed that it didn’t work.

Volume? Andrew says that the volume didn’t go loud enough.

Music sharing? They are playing with it right now. Figuring out how to send it took a few minutes. Actually sending a song took less than a minute. “It’s quick,” Charles says.

Screen quality? “Pretty good,” says Kirk Chen. “Nice looking,” Andrew says. “Better than the iPod,” says Jiang Wu. “For cartoons this screen is great,” Jiang says.
Smudging (we’re eating pizza). “No smudging,” Andrew says.

Overall feature set? “Doesn’t seem like there’s much to it,” Andrew says, which starts a discussion of what else the team would want. Games.

Video? “Not bad.” Being able to spin the screen is a nice touch Vipin says. They note that my videos that I’m filming won’t be able to be played (I record in Quicktime). On the other hand, my videos don’t currently work on iPod either (I need to re-compress them for the smaller size and format that the iPod needs.

Case? “Sensual feel,” Charles says. It’s a soft bag.

Sharing of video? Doesn’t work yet.

Andrew notes that you can’t record from radio. “Other MP3 players let you do that,” he says.

“How zune will it be hacked?” Andrew says. “If people can write third-party applications for it then you’d see people writing open-source browsers and other applications.”

Battery? Can’t be replaced and the case isn’t designed to be opened (at least that we could figure out).

We couldn’t test whether or not a ripped MP3 could be shared.

Andrew wonders how it works with podcasts (he listens to TWiT and NPR, among others).

Ruggedness? It seems more rugged, Vipin says.

Overall impression? “I don’t like the bulkiness,” Vipin says. “If I were a pre-teen or teen and I didn’t have an iPod, I’d buy this. Mostly for the sharing features,” Matthew says. Overall, though, the team gave it thumbs down compared to the iPod. But, not a strong thumbs down. It did — at minimum — intrigue them.

If you don’t know what OOBE stands for, that’s “Out Of Box Experience.”

136 thoughts on “Retrevo gang tests out Microsoft Zune OOBE

  1. YOU GUYS SUCK….this zune is a LOT better than those shitty Ipods. but there is some bugs they need to work out with the software….like…LETTING ME CONNECT THE DAMN THING!

  2. YOU GUYS SUCK….this zune is a LOT better than those shitty Ipods. but there is some bugs they need to work out with the software….like…LETTING ME CONNECT THE DAMN THING!

  3. I have purchased both the Zune and the iPOD 30G for Christmas. I have to say that I believe that 58% is a fair number considering the over-all performance of the Zune. If Zune had the same features as the iPOD, Zune could easily compete with iPOD, hands down. But the lack of features is the point that I’m stuck on. I may return the Zune and the iPOD until Microsoft either updates the firmware to include the added features or the next generation is released that will do more.

    I do not like the issues with iPODs harddrive history and the battery life issues that I read about.

    In the Zune, the battery has to be replaceable somehow or Microsoft will most likely face a big lawsuite. $249 for a disposable device is a bit extreme don’t you think? The gadget geeks just have not figured it out yet.

    The Zune is a very good media player that can compete with iPOD but Microsoft MUST add more features, such as the calander, the note pad, and the simple games. I’m still waiting for the firmware update that will allow these added features.

    Danny

  4. I have purchased both the Zune and the iPOD 30G for Christmas. I have to say that I believe that 58% is a fair number considering the over-all performance of the Zune. If Zune had the same features as the iPOD, Zune could easily compete with iPOD, hands down. But the lack of features is the point that I’m stuck on. I may return the Zune and the iPOD until Microsoft either updates the firmware to include the added features or the next generation is released that will do more.

    I do not like the issues with iPODs harddrive history and the battery life issues that I read about.

    In the Zune, the battery has to be replaceable somehow or Microsoft will most likely face a big lawsuite. $249 for a disposable device is a bit extreme don’t you think? The gadget geeks just have not figured it out yet.

    The Zune is a very good media player that can compete with iPOD but Microsoft MUST add more features, such as the calander, the note pad, and the simple games. I’m still waiting for the firmware update that will allow these added features.

    Danny

  5. I just got a zune for christmas.
    I don’t know how to upload videos on to it.
    I heard you have to purchase and download
    another software.

  6. I just got a zune for christmas.
    I don’t know how to upload videos on to it.
    I heard you have to purchase and download
    another software.

  7. Oh My… I have nothing against Microsoft or whatever but what is that damn fuc*ing idea to not put a replaceable battery… Like the iPod certainly.

    I cannot believe that companies, which are looking for good popularity and image nowadays, do not think about the environment… It is like the cell phone maker and mobile phone company… Why replace the battery while you can have a new phone cheaper (or they think so).

    I would dream the battery will live the life time of the device, but with electronic, it is one of the first parts (with hard drive, but well, that one is mechanic too) to fail.

    Sad thing that company like Microsoft didn’t do anything on that side.

  8. Oh My… I have nothing against Microsoft or whatever but what is that damn fuc*ing idea to not put a replaceable battery… Like the iPod certainly.

    I cannot believe that companies, which are looking for good popularity and image nowadays, do not think about the environment… It is like the cell phone maker and mobile phone company… Why replace the battery while you can have a new phone cheaper (or they think so).

    I would dream the battery will live the life time of the device, but with electronic, it is one of the first parts (with hard drive, but well, that one is mechanic too) to fail.

    Sad thing that company like Microsoft didn’t do anything on that side.

  9. Step up an accept your Shallow Person of the Week Award, Brit. You’ve more than earned it.

    It matters what is available in the market place because availability that is forced down people’s throats can limit innovation. That is largely what happened with Microsoft Windows. Though it is not great software, it came to dominate because it was the most available OS, partly because of hardball business practices that resulted in losing an antitrust suit. We would have better operating systems today but for Microsoft. (Apple and Linux are better, but there would be many more if Microsoft had not become a monopoly.)

    In regard to Zune, the issue is whether Microsoft can again gain market share for an inferior product.

    I am embarassed for the persons citing a push-type poll (that Microsoft likely paid) claiming 58 percent of the MP3 users want a Zune. It is easy to see that it is not a real poll because it was done online with self-selected participants, excluding as much 40 percent of Americans who do not have continual access to the Internet. Furthermore, as someone else pointed out, the iPod was not even mentioned as an alternative, so the respondents to this completely unscientific survey were not choosing the Zune over the iPod. Are people like Rob La Gesse not bright enough to know the difference between marketing and science?

    The consensus among tech writers ranging from CNET to Pogue to Mossberg is that the Zune is not ready for prime time. The Microsoft employees posting FUD to blogs like this one cannot circumvent that reality. Adding salt to the wound, initial sales have been paltry, with tech buyers ignoring Zune and lining up for the PS3.

  10. Step up an accept your Shallow Person of the Week Award, Brit. You’ve more than earned it.

    It matters what is available in the market place because availability that is forced down people’s throats can limit innovation. That is largely what happened with Microsoft Windows. Though it is not great software, it came to dominate because it was the most available OS, partly because of hardball business practices that resulted in losing an antitrust suit. We would have better operating systems today but for Microsoft. (Apple and Linux are better, but there would be many more if Microsoft had not become a monopoly.)

    In regard to Zune, the issue is whether Microsoft can again gain market share for an inferior product.

    I am embarassed for the persons citing a push-type poll (that Microsoft likely paid) claiming 58 percent of the MP3 users want a Zune. It is easy to see that it is not a real poll because it was done online with self-selected participants, excluding as much 40 percent of Americans who do not have continual access to the Internet. Furthermore, as someone else pointed out, the iPod was not even mentioned as an alternative, so the respondents to this completely unscientific survey were not choosing the Zune over the iPod. Are people like Rob La Gesse not bright enough to know the difference between marketing and science?

    The consensus among tech writers ranging from CNET to Pogue to Mossberg is that the Zune is not ready for prime time. The Microsoft employees posting FUD to blogs like this one cannot circumvent that reality. Adding salt to the wound, initial sales have been paltry, with tech buyers ignoring Zune and lining up for the PS3.

  11. Step up an accept your Shallow Person of the Week Award, Brit. You’ve more than earned it.

    It matters what is available in the market place because availability that is forced down people’s throats can limit innovation. That is largely what happened with Microsoft Windows. Though it is not great software, it came to dominate because it was the most available OS, partly because of hardball business practices that resulted in losing an antitrust suit. We would have better operating systems today but for Microsoft. (Apple and Linux are better, but there would be many more if Microsoft had not become a monopoly.)

    In regard to Zune, the issue is whether Microsoft can again gain market share for an inferior product.

    I am embarassed for the persons citing a push-type poll (that Microsoft likely paid) claiming 58 percent of the MP3 users want a Zune. It is easy to see that it is not a real poll because it was done online with self-selected participants, excluding as much 40 percent of Americans who do not have continual access to the Internet. Furthermore, as someone else pointed out, the iPod was not even mentioned as an alternative, so the respondents to this completely unscientific survey were not choosing the Zune over the iPod. Are people like Rob La Gesse not bright enough to know the difference between marketing and science?

    The consensus among tech writers ranging from CNET to Pogue to Mossberg is that the Zune is not ready for prime time. The Microsoft employees posting FUD to blogs like this one cannot circumvent that reality. Adding salt to the wound, initial sales have been paltry, with tech buyers ignoring Zune and lining up for the PS3.

  12. Wow.
    You guys spend too much energy on this stuff.
    Just buy whatever you want. Why do you care if someone gets a device that competes with you device of choice? Who cares who gets more sales?
    These are just mp3/video players at the end of the day.

    Do Sony and Panasonic fanboys flame each other over their respective choices of TVs?

  13. Wow.
    You guys spend too much energy on this stuff.
    Just buy whatever you want. Why do you care if someone gets a device that competes with you device of choice? Who cares who gets more sales?
    These are just mp3/video players at the end of the day.

    Do Sony and Panasonic fanboys flame each other over their respective choices of TVs?

  14. One observation I will make is that sometimes Apple does miss the point. No question about the usability of ipod. I wouldn’t replace my ipod with Zune. But simply brushing the Wi-Fi and peer-to-peer aspect of Zune with a comment about giving your earbud instead is just lame. Eliminating cables and enabling people to share content (IM, audio and video) instantly will have huge implications on a number of fronts. I can’t imagine why college students would’t grab on to this on campuses. Decentralizing content and removing trackability will have social, economical and legal implications. People want to part of a new phenomenon and peer-to-peer sharing in this fashion on a portable music player is one of those possibilities.

    We tested music sharing on Zune and that was fast and easy. Not sure if ripped music can be shared, not sure if video can be shared, not sure about the IM capability. Should Microsoft do all this? Absolutely. Should Apple do this? Absolutely. And Apple should find a better way to do it. But pleeeeease don’t ask me to share my earbud to do that.

  15. One observation I will make is that sometimes Apple does miss the point. No question about the usability of ipod. I wouldn’t replace my ipod with Zune. But simply brushing the Wi-Fi and peer-to-peer aspect of Zune with a comment about giving your earbud instead is just lame. Eliminating cables and enabling people to share content (IM, audio and video) instantly will have huge implications on a number of fronts. I can’t imagine why college students would’t grab on to this on campuses. Decentralizing content and removing trackability will have social, economical and legal implications. People want to part of a new phenomenon and peer-to-peer sharing in this fashion on a portable music player is one of those possibilities.

    We tested music sharing on Zune and that was fast and easy. Not sure if ripped music can be shared, not sure if video can be shared, not sure about the IM capability. Should Microsoft do all this? Absolutely. Should Apple do this? Absolutely. And Apple should find a better way to do it. But pleeeeease don’t ask me to share my earbud to do that.

  16. @41 and yet Windows users can happily use iPods. And this week I learn I can take my iPod on 6 different airlines and listen to it as long as I want, and play videos on the seat back screen. As for the Zune? Well, anyone but Windows users are screwed.

  17. @41 and yet Windows users can happily use iPods. And this week I learn I can take my iPod on 6 different airlines and listen to it as long as I want, and play videos on the seat back screen. As for the Zune? Well, anyone but Windows users are screwed.

  18. @41 and yet Windows users can happily use iPods. And this week I learn I can take my iPod on 6 different airlines and listen to it as long as I want, and play videos on the seat back screen. As for the Zune? Well, anyone but Windows users are screwed.

  19. The poll which all MS fanboys are touting never even mentioned the iPod. So when people report that 58% of people would buy a Zune over an iPod, that’s just plain wrong and misleading. It only asked about MP3 players, in the generic sense, nothing to do with iPods.

    As for Microsoft paying UMG blood money. Well, that’s just piss weak on their part. Of course they lick UMG’s ass and then the UMG CEO comes out and calls iPod owners thieves. Of course Baller and the Real boss (who is he, and is Real still around? :P ) called iPod owners thieves as well. What a bunch of knobs! There is nothing different in how people would purchase (or otherwise) their music for the Zune or iPod. Therefore, by these goons definition, Zune owners are also thieves.

    And what is this about the SOCIAL. We’re not deaf, no need to shout in here. As for the social, who gives a SHIT?!? It’s a nice try to find and angle for a device which is clunky, has a terrible user experience as far as the software on the PC goes. Has some lame-ass points crap. Come on people. Dollars and cents! Talk about the usual Microsoft trick of taking something that’s simple and stuffing it up.

  20. The poll which all MS fanboys are touting never even mentioned the iPod. So when people report that 58% of people would buy a Zune over an iPod, that’s just plain wrong and misleading. It only asked about MP3 players, in the generic sense, nothing to do with iPods.

    As for Microsoft paying UMG blood money. Well, that’s just piss weak on their part. Of course they lick UMG’s ass and then the UMG CEO comes out and calls iPod owners thieves. Of course Baller and the Real boss (who is he, and is Real still around? :P ) called iPod owners thieves as well. What a bunch of knobs! There is nothing different in how people would purchase (or otherwise) their music for the Zune or iPod. Therefore, by these goons definition, Zune owners are also thieves.

    And what is this about the SOCIAL. We’re not deaf, no need to shout in here. As for the social, who gives a SHIT?!? It’s a nice try to find and angle for a device which is clunky, has a terrible user experience as far as the software on the PC goes. Has some lame-ass points crap. Come on people. Dollars and cents! Talk about the usual Microsoft trick of taking something that’s simple and stuffing it up.

  21. @37 Fair point. The advantage that Xbox had was that they were disassociate XBOX with the MS brand. Not sure the Zune team is being as successful in doing that. I realize that the Zune and the XBOX come from the same team. But at the moment there is too much MS branding being associated with the Zune. Seems they would have done well to associate the Zune with the Xbox brand. Possibly.

  22. @37 Fair point. The advantage that Xbox had was that they were disassociate XBOX with the MS brand. Not sure the Zune team is being as successful in doing that. I realize that the Zune and the XBOX come from the same team. But at the moment there is too much MS branding being associated with the Zune. Seems they would have done well to associate the Zune with the Xbox brand. Possibly.

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