Posted by: Frank | September 22, 2009

Zune HD Commentary

Yesterday I received my Platinum Zune HD, and so I am now in the process of playing with it and reacting to what I find. Because I am finding that I can’t record my reactions in 140 character sound bits that Twitter requires, I’ve decided to create this post here and if you have suggestions for anything that I write please post a comment.

First off, the reasons why I bought the Zune HD are two fold. First is that I find my original Zune 30 to be too large to carry around. Second, is the buzz in the gadget community about the device and in particular the OLED screen. The Zune HD is the first device that I have with an OLED screen and I have to admit that it is beautiful. However, I am probably in the minority, but I think the screen is too small, particularly for browsing the Internet. I think there needs to be some healthy debate about what is the appropriate screen size of a mobile device for different use cases. Too small screens limit the amount of words that can be displayed at a resolution that is comfortable to read. Back 8 years ago when the mobile device was between Palm and Microsoft, one of the reasons why I preferred Pocket PCs is because they had larger screens for reading e-books and web pages. I think the size of the T-Mobile myTouch is as about as small as a mobile data device should go.

By the way, speaking of web browsing, my first reaction to the web browser on the Zune HD is that it is too slow. Much slower than Safari on the iPod Touch and the Android browser. Safari is still superior to all mobile browsers because of it’s ability to make full pages nearly legible and it’s ability to automatically resize columns in web pages to the full width of the screen in a font size that is legible.

As it seems to be the tradition in Microsoft’s mobile devices, some functions require too many menu layers. For instance, wireless sync could be a cool feature except that I have to tap Settings, Wireless, Sync; how about a one button tap to sync? May be this is something that Microsoft can provide as an application?

One of the things the Zune HD doesn’t have that the Zune 30 has is the ability to display a background image on the home page; on the Zune HD the background image only appears when you first turn the device on. I wish the HD kept the feature for the home page as it provides a way to personalize the device, and as you know, personalization is all the rage.

Why is it that when you display pictures in landscape the picture is not resized to fill the entire screen? You are losing a good half inch of screen space (about a quarter of an inch on each size) that would provide better picture viewing. With the myTouch when I rotate the screen Android automatically resizes the image so that the entire screen is used. Pictures are gorgeous on the Zune HD and I want to take full advantage of that screen!

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