Posts Tagged ‘Zune’

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V-Moda Bass-Freq Review

February 7, 2010

Introduction

Back in 2008, I began making the transition from casual music listener to full-fledged audiophile. This was the year I sort of reached a sense of enlightenment and I began to reevaluate my tastes in music. I stopped listening to the radio and started listening to what I consider to be “good” music (IE anything that’s not on the radio), especially when it came to Hip-Hop, on my Zune whenever I went out. During this time, my Zune and I were inseparable. Any time I was driving, it is always plugged into the car’s stereo and set on shuffle mode and when I was a passenger, I always had my headphones on my ears, a trend that rings true to this day.

Back then, I owned a pair of Sony clip on headphones which had been decent for a while but when I made the transition to audiophile they just couldn’t cut it, especially after I picked up a pair of the full size and great sounding Sennheiser HD280 Pros. So, I had to do some shopping and eventually settled on a pair of $40 (at the time) V-Moda Bass-Freq earbuds that I managed to get from Amazon for $20. Based on reviews I’d read, these earbuds offered good sound quality while also delivering a very strong and deep bass. Being somewhat of a bass-head myself, I decided to order them based on their low price and bass-heavy sound.

After all this time, I’ve finally decided to write down my thoughts on the earbuds that have served me well over the past year and a half or so. Without any further delay, read on for my thoughts on the Bass-Freq earbuds.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Thoughts About the Zune HD

August 5, 2009

zunehd-black

If you’ve been reading my prior blog posts, dating back to about two years ago to the present, you’ll probably remember that I purchased one of the Halo 3 Edition Zunes. In those two years, I’ve grown to love my little 30GB Zune, as it has delivered just about everything I could reasonably expect from an MP3 player. Music quality was great, videos were watchable on its small LCD screen, the FM radio is a very nice addition (albeit underutilized recently due to my dislike of the music radio stations tend to play these days), and the wi-fi, even if its implementation was somewhat half assed at first, has been upgraded in recent updates to add wireless syncing and access to the Zune Marketplace through hotspots. Sure, leaving the wi-fi on nukes the battery life but the features are nice to have nonetheless. It almost goes without saying that I’m a bit of a Zune fanboy.

After two years, the Zune 30 has become a bit dated next to its younger siblings, the Zune 120 and flash based Zunes and a number of other MP3 players like the Creative Zen, Samsung’s P series and, of course, the iPod Touch, the MP3 player that has inspired so many clones as other companies attempt to cash on both it and the iPhone’s runaway success. As I sat and watched the first public unveiling of the iPhone and later the iPod Touch, I began to hope that Microsoft had a Zune Phone or Zune Touch in the works to combat them. Well, a while ago, my hopes were answered in the form of the Zune HD, Microsoft’s answer to the iPod Touch.

The Zune HD packs a number of interesting features such as a 3.3 inch OLED capacitive multitouch touchscreen sporting a 480 x 272 resolution which should prove exceptional for viewing videos. The interface is very similar to the interface already seen on current Zunes which may or may not be a good thing. On one hand, it appears fully functional and easily usable but next to the iPod Touch and iPhone, the UI runs the risk of looking a bit dated.

Outside of the touchscreen, the ZuneHD packs in a number of new features and upgrades such as the inclusion of HD radio. There hasn’t been much information released in regards to how the radio will integrate with the Zune HD but based on how the radio was integrated and later improved upon in current Zunes, this should allow for tagging songs for purchase later on the Zune Marketplace through their RDBS data. It’s pretty much a given that the radio will offer far better quality over the current Zunes due to the superior digital signal so there is no doubt that the inclusion of HD radio will be a great new feature.

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In the time since the announcement of the Zune HD, gadget blogs such as Engadget and Gizmodo and larger tech oriented sites such as CNET have had the chance to play around with prototype versions of the Zune HD and initial impressions seem to be very positive. The UI has been very snappy and video has looked fantastic. At this point, I’m less worried about the hardware capabilities of the player and more about whether or not the device will be able to stand up to the inevitable onslaught that will be levied against it in the form of the iPod Touch. It’s no secret that Apple has a stranglehold on the MP3 player market and rules with an iron fist. The iPod Touch is an amazing device on its own due to its intuitive multitouch interface, excellent web browsing experience and its great media playback abilities, but what truly makes the iPod Touch stand out among the crowd is the revolution known as the App Store.

Since its debut alongside the iPhone 3G, the App Store has matured into a force to be reckoned with of unparalleled size and scope and has inspired many copy cats and imitators. To date, none of these imitators have even come close to matching what Apple has created. Now it may seem like I’ve gone off on a tangent but this is directly related to the Zune HD. If the Zune HD is to make any sort of dent in the market, it will need something along the lines of the App Store. It would be too much to ask of Microsoft to expect them to be able to stand toe to toe with the likes of Apple right out of the gate but they will need an ace up their sleeve to be able to take on the reigning champion and I don’t think HD radio is going to be enough.

Overall, the Zune HD looks to be a very impressive piece of technology and a nice addition to the Zune family. I have been impressed by what little I’ve seen so far and hope that new information released about the player will be just as impressive. It remains to be seen if the Zune HD will have a real competitive edge that will make its long, uphill battle against Apple a bit easier. This is something the original Zunes had problems with. While I think the Zune 120 was head and shoulders ahead of its 120 GB iPod Classic counterpart, the market obviously didn’t share the sentiment and Microsoft has a great deal of work ahead of them if they want to convince the market that they truly have the superior product.

That is, if they do indeed have an iPod Touch killer on their hands.

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I Bought an iPod Touch

July 25, 2009

iPod Touch

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been somewhat of a Zune fanboy. I certainly had my reasons. My first MP3 player was a 20 GB iPod that I loved for about a year, until the hard drive was somehow corrupted and it stopped working. After several unsuccessful attempts to resurrect my poor iPod, I gave up and tossed it aside in favor of using other devices to satisfy my MP3 playing needs. For a while, I was getting by with just my PSP and whatever songs I could cram onto its memory stick but that just wasn’t enough. Two years ago, Microsoft released the Halo 3 Edition Zune and, in the midst of my Halo 3 fanboyism, I snapped it up without a second thought and instantly fell in love. The Zune isn’t the perfect MP3 player, but in my mind, it was incredibly underrated. But I digress…

Ever since the announcement of the iPhone and the subsequent announcement of the iPod Touch, I’ve been following the two gadgets closely but I must say that my interest in the iPhone is virtually nil, due to the fact that I am a Verizon customer and the iPhone is saddled with AT&T. This is a carrier I’ve heard naught but bad things about in regards to call quality and signal reception, two things that are rather important when it comes to phones. Perhaps when the iPhone makes the jump to Verizon’s vastly superior network (I’m a bit of a Verizon fanboy as well), then I’ll get excited about it.

So, the iPod Touch was the device I latched onto and grew increasingly fond of over the past few months and, after just as many months of quiet consideration, I bought one. After being on the fence for so long, what finally pushed me over the edge? Unsurprisingly, I finally caved after having a few opportunities to actually use the device and after using the iPod Touch, I was convinced. I had to have one.

You see, I’m the type of tech nerd that is constantly searching for “that device” and other tech nerds will know what I’m talking about. It’s that one, magical device that will do everything you want it to do, be it playing MP3s, videos, making phone calls, sending e-mail, internet browsing, whatever. You name it, that device does it. Arguably, the iPhone is the closest any device has ever come but I’ve already explained why I’m not gushing about that.

And there you have it. I’ve been using it over the past few days and I love it. Honestly, I really wanted to wait for the Zune HD to see what it would offer to counter the iPod Touch beyond what little we know such as the inclusion of the Nvidia Tegra chip and integrated HD radio but I’m quite the impatient fellow when it comes to things like this and Microsoft’s slow trickle of information related to the Zune HD has turned me off and yes, I fully understand that this is standard operating procedure for corporations such as these. So far, the iPod Touch is pretty much everything I was hoping it would be and provides one of the best experiences I’ve had with a portable device because it comes the closest to being “that device”.

I’m considering writing up a full review of the iPod Touch over the next couple days and maybe doing a little video review or something. We’ll see. For now, I’ll just say that I’m impressed with the iPod Touch and very happy with my purchase and leave it that.