So far in this series of posts I’ve taken a look at Windows Media Player, iTunes, Media Monkey and Helium Music Manager. Today I’m going to review Microsoft’s 3rd Media software offering; the Zune 2.5 Software:
Zune 2.5 Software
I realise the Zune software may not really be considered a serious music management alternative unless you actually have a Zune Mp3 Player, however like iTunes I think you’ll find there’s a lot of reasons to use this program.
The original Zune software was horribly bad, so the decision to start over from scratch was a good one. Unfortunately this meant the initial Zune 2 release lacked some of the functionality of Zune 1, but made up for it by actually being stable and reliable.
Comparisons to iTunes is inevitable, this is after all Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s product. Seemingly the design process for the software was, ‘lets look at iTunes, and do something completely different’, which is actually a good thing.
The result is a very usable and attractive application, in fact although its not designed for advanced users at all, I still enjoy using it just for the well designed UI and attractive theme. Actually what I like best is the playback visualisation. Rather then the usual clouds and swirls, the Zune software displays a full screen of tiled album art, which looks really good:
Tag management and album art retrieval is basic at best, but functional at least. The usual features are included such as smart-playlist creation, sorting by genres and a rating system. The rating system is unusual, simplified to just 3 ratings: ‘nothing’, ‘broken heart’ and ‘heart’. I actually like this because I really hate debating over wether or not a song deserves a 4.5 stars or just plain 4, however I know a lot of people won’t be happy with it.
Really I think Zune’s strength is in it’s interface. In fact I often do use it to browse my library and play songs, just because it does it so nicely. For anything more then that I would suggest the previously reviewed music managers such as Media Monkey.
Conclusion: Great design and UI but lacking in advanced features. Use in conjunction with another music manager or tagger.
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