The Zune 3 Firmware: Our Review

The Zune 3 Firmware: Our Review

With Zune 2 the Zune team at Microsoft left the siverely limited Zune 1 firmware in the dust. Here’s our review of their latest Zune release, 3.0 Read our review of the Zune 120 release(here)





by Travis Pope
Editor, ZuneSpring
last updated on October 12, 2008
first published on October 12, 2008

The original device firmware on the Zune, while not terrible, was something of an interresting mix. Unlike the hardware it ran on the Zune firmware was always a bright spot in the ecosystem, allowing you to easily enjoy your media with very little effort. WIth the generation 3 firmmware ,(version 225) Microsoft has continued with it’s do everything easily philosophy. Today I’ll be reviewing each device function by category to help convey a snese of how all of these features come together as a total solution.

music

For the btter, the music functions from versions one and two have remained unchanged. The twist interface is still used to browse by ‘genres’, ‘albums’, ‘artists’, ‘songs’ and ‘playlists’, what is new however is ‘channels’. While ‘channels’ are new I will be saving my review of it until my review of the Zune-related services to come soon. What I will say here is that while ‘channels’ may seem to be a brilliant idea there my be just a bit of hype.

pictures

This time around I would have loved to see the Zune team add more formats to the firmware viewing something that shouldn’t be that complicated. Don’t get me wrong I don’t have many pictures in different formats, however it’s a small obsticle that could be overcome with a firmware update. New users shouldn’t have to know about formats, it should just work.

social

Another largely unchanged area, in past updates, we’ve seen the social area evolve to include an acutal compelling feature set. The ‘social’ are still contains your ‘friends’, ‘inbox’, and other wireless functions so there really sin’t much to mention here either.

radio

Now here is where that changes come in. Anyone who has looked into what the ZUne platform is all about and nothing showcases this more then the new ‘Buy from FM’ feature. Once your tuned into a radio station and a song you like, select the station as if you were going to make it a preset. Instead of making the station a preset, select ‘add to cart’. As long as the station brocasts the RDS information needed to locate the song in ZUne marketplcae your’e home free. The song will be downloaded and added to your library the next time you sync your player to the Zune desktop software. This feature itself is worth the update.

podcasts

The podcasts area has remained the same with the exception of one change. While writing this review I noticed a menu item missing within the ‘podcasts’ area. Luckily the feature was not removed but added to the content menu.

audiobooks

One of the new features in this release, ‘audiobooks’ is one of those interesting addons that I would like to know what they were thinking.

further investigation

Zune 120 photo gallery