This week has been probably the best PR week in Zune and Xbox history! So now I am pretty much coming out and saying what everyone already knows about me.
I am a Microsoft Fanboy!
Tuesday Microsoft Zune launched version 3.1, more or less it was a minor update. Some trimming of the OS, speeding up some menus and adding some games. This update was for both the Zune device (all of them) and the desktop software. It added some new features such as the ability to look for music that people like you like.
Another point of interest are the multiplayer games. They only have a handful of games, but they are free and they work well. The new multiplayer feature is nice cause you can now play Texas Hold 'Em, or Checkers with other Zunes nearby. Go ahead and insert your "Who owns a Zune" joke here.
When you add those new features (small but important ones) with the already awesomeness of the Zune, you should start to see why the Zune is a good personal media player. If you don't know the full list of awesome, I have posted it, well right here:
- Download Music from Device (all generations)
- Share music with other Zunes
- Share music with Xbox
- Zune Pass (which just got more awesome, details in a min)
Let's get intimate with this last feature, the Zune Pass. Zune Pass isn't really a feature, it's the subscription plan you can use to get music for your Zune. For only $14.99/month you get as much music as you can download, so far I have over 100GB downloaded from Zune. There are no caps, except what you HDD can hold. Oh but wait... it is DRMed! That doesn't really matter to me, for a couple reasons, mainly I don't try to use my music anywhere I don't have access to my Zune or my Laptop (one of the three computers on my Zune Pass).
Zune Pass just got better though. Microsoft just announced that Zune Pass now get (included in the $14.99 price tag) 10 songs to keep forever! That is right, for each month you have your Zune Pass you now get 10 free DRM-free tracks to keep forever! When you consider that tracks cost approx. $1 each, that brings the cost of the Zune Pass to effectively $4.99 a month! Think Apple will follow suit? Hell they haven't even got a subscription service yet.
NXE: New Xbox Experience
Let's shift gears, and talk about my Xbox Experience. The new dashboard is sweet! It is fast, it is clean, finding the information you are searching for is quite easy now, and it just looks nice. Avatars are... avatars. Meh. Installing games to the HDD is ok too, it would be better if Microsoft would consider alternatives to the CD in tray requirement. Maybe a 1 week DRM so I don't have to keep my disk in the machine?
The real winner in this NXE though is NetFlix. Wow! I have a cruddy DSL where I am living right now and the NetFlix streaming just worked, and worked well. Once a movie is buffered (and they buffer more than normal Xbox videos) there wasn't a single second I thought about the fact that it was streaming.
The selection on the NetFlix streaming is quite lame. However I did find a bunch of movies I either haven't seen or wanted to see again. I would love to see NetFlix work out the kinks with the Sony rights to streaming on the Xbox. It really rubs me wrong when a company like Sony does exactly this, and their partner Netflix covers for them by saying there is no foul play. I call bullshit. I could possibly understand that story if Sony pulled the streams from all streaming avenues, and not just Xbox.
So there you have it, I am just a fanboy at this point. You would have a hard time convincing me that an iPod is greater than a Zune, or that a PS3 is greater than an Xbox. Note to Apple and Sony, feel free to send me free stuff to try and convert me, I would be happy to give you a fair shake.