A Zune Christmas

My wife got me a blue 8gb Zune for Christmas and I’ve been spending this morning downloading albums to play on it.  I bought the Zune Pass which lets me have access to almost everything for $14.99 a month.  I’m used to subscription music because I’ve been a Rhapsody subscriber for years, but I never had a compatible player.  iPods don’t work with subscription music services.  I was intrigued by Zune when I read the new 3.0 version allowed subscribers to keep 10 songs a month as part of their monthly fee.  The ten free songs a month aren’t DRM-free MP3 songs though, but Zune locked songs, although they promise these songs will play even after I stop paying the rent.  Well, we know how that works, don’t we.  Still it’s a nice try.

So far I’ve downloaded:

  • Quicksilver Messenger Service
  • Quicksilver Messenger Service – Happy Trails
  • Pavement – Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Ed.
  • R.E.M. – Murmur – Deluxe
  • Genesis – Foxtrot (new reissue)
  • Joan Baez – Day After Tomorrow
  • David Bowie – Live in Santa Monica 1972
  • Arcade Fire – Funeral
  • Nirvana – Nevermind
  • The Priests

I considered getting the new box set of the complete Creedence Clearwater Revival albums, but figured I’d save that for later.  I wish they had a check box for “Add to Memory Queue” for these subscription services.  All-you-can-listen-to musical gluttony is hard to manage.

I’ve found a great way to pick new albums to load – I go to The Rolling Stone CD Album Review page and look for 4 and 5 star reviews.  This is a fantastic way to discover new albums, and to rediscover old albums and box sets when they are re-released.

Even if I only listened to one new album a day, $300 a month value at $10 an album, the $15 a month fee still makes me feel like I’m robbing them blind.  Nothing is stopping me from listening to 10 new albums a day.  It’s all legal and on the up-and-up.  And I think it’s a fair price.  For most albums, I will only listen to them once.  I doubt that I will find 10 perfect songs a month that I will want to play over and over again enough to make them worth the trouble to isolate from the rental songs.  As long as I pay the monthly rental fee I’ll have access to them as long as they don’t go out of print.

I think a fun project would be to find 1,000 perfect songs.  A perfect song to me are ones I would listen to over and over again without getting bored.  It would be fun to have 1,000 perfect songs on the Zune and hit random play.

The Zune works with Wi-Fi and I can call up albums directly from the player, but I find it easier to just load them from my Zune library on the PC.  I haven’t figured out how to delete albums yet.  And there are rare delays in playing music through Wi-Fi that I avoid by downloading the album through the computer.  The Wi-Fi feature will be great for when I’m away from home.

The Zune now supports Audible.com files and Overdrive library files, so I can use the Zune as a replacement for my iPod Nano that I use for listening to audio books.  The players are about the same size and weight.  I haven’t checked how well the Zune plays audio books, and whether or not it has a good resume feature, vital for listening to audio books.  Overall, I’m very impressed with the Zune.

The earphones that come with the Zune seem nice enough, but I’ve read they aren’t as good as they could be, so I’ll start looking for reviews on some low-cost great bang-for-buck earphones.  I find the Zune earphones better than the ones that came with my iPod.  They are more comfortable and sound better.  I’ve never acquired the habit of listening to music through earphones though, and that will determine how how I use my Zune, but I like it very much right now.

JWH 12/26/8

2 thoughts on “A Zune Christmas”

  1. Your Zune sounds interesting, but I am so used to having hard copies of music that I cannot see myself switching over to digital anytime soon.

    Your list of downloaded cds are interesting, and have some overlap with my own taste (Foxtrot, Murmur, Bowie, Creedence). My Christmas gifts included King Crimson, Renaissance and the sadly-underappreciated Strawbs.

    Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


  2. What an awesome gift, and so perfect for you with your love of technology and of music. She knows you well! I’m thrilled for you and hope this following holiday week gives you plenty of time to play with your new toy. Belated Merry Christmas to you, James.

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