Complete Media Player Reviews (Part 4): Zune Software
So far in this series of posts Iâ€™ve taken a look at Windows Media Player, iTunes, Media Monkey and Helium Music Manager. Today Iâ€™m going to review Microsoftâ€™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 youâ€™ll find thereâ€™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 Microsoftâ€™s answer to Appleâ€™s product. Seemingly the design process for the software was, â€˜lets look at iTunes, and do something completely differentâ€™, 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: â€˜nothingâ€™, â€˜broken heartâ€™ and â€˜heartâ€™. 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 wonâ€™t be happy with it.
Really I think Zuneâ€™s strength is in itâ€™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.
What about the Creative Zen? Everything is always iPod & iTunes. Creative invented the iPod interface, which Apple stole. Creative ZEN comes with ZEN Explorer and now the new ZEN Centrale. They have ZENCast organizer for podcasts.
Can we see some ratings on resource usage? We know itunes is a resource hog, but what about the others?
Maybe in a wrap up you could show a chart with one column showing resources used when the player is playing a song while the window is maximized and another column showing resources used when the same player playing the same song is minimized (in the tray, dock, etc.).
I know a lot of people, including myself who do heavy graphic oriented work want to listen to music at the same time. The last thing I want is my media player slowing down my photoshop or 3d modeler. Knowing resources would be very helpful. Thanks!
Thanks for the suggestion Brandon, I will begin to give more indepth reviews with the information you suggested.