The Big, Happy Family

It was just a couple of days ago that I was thinking about the Zune players and I wondered if I would ever see one for sale again.  I wasn’t sure if they were just being thrown away or if people just kept them and never did anything with them.  Maybe a year ago, I stopped at a pawn shop and saw a Zune flash player in the display case.  It was being sold for something ridiculous like $150, so I never even bothered looking closer at it.

Today, I stopped at a local pawn shop and saw another Zune flash player marked down from $99, to $59, to $29.  I asked to see it and it was an 8GB model.  Yes, I’ll take that.  And it’s probably best that I took it because the charger that they provided with the player was for an iPhone – doesn’t even fit.  Anyone else wouldn’t have the extensive accessories for Zune as I do, including cables and chargers.

So, I’ve added a new member to my family, which now consists of:

  • 1st gen, 30gb white (over 6 years old and still kicking every day)
  • 3rd gen, 32gb blue ZuneHD Originals
  • 1st gen, 30gb brown
  • 2nd gen, 8gb black

For accessories, I have two Altec Lansing speaker docks and a PC dock, and spare charging cables.  I also have 3 car audio integration kits.  If you want to stretch it a bit further, I have a Dell Venue Pro with Windows Phone 7, and a Nokia Lumina 810 with Windows Phone 8.1.  So really, I am the most qualified person to purchase that Zune.

I only have one more model to go before I have the entire Zune model collection: a 2nd gen 80/120gb.  When and if I find one, it will probably become my primary player in the car, since it can hold my entire MP3 collection.  Speaking of car integrations, I recently decided my next car stereo is probably going to be a CarPC, running a stripped-down install of Windows with the Zune software installed.

I’m sure a lot of people would like to ask, “What is this obsession with Zune?”  And there’s only really one thing that does it for me.  After all, the hardware is commodity – anyone can create an MP3 player.  And with so many choices of media player software, why Zune?

For me, the UI is unmatched in any other software program.  When you look at a now-playing screen of a player, there’s only so many ways you can lay out the screen, then you have to consider what elements will be shown.


A large thumbnail of the album art, progress bar, song title, album name, and artist name.  Then a few icons for repeat, battery, and play/pause.  Simple and elegant.

I can imagine a lot of people say that every player has those elements and many have a similar layout and those people might be right.  It’s only extremely subtle differences that make Zune stand out.  The fonts, the size of the elements, the little glow on the current point in the progress bar.  To me, it is a perfect mix.  When I get the CarPC with the full desktop Zune software, the UI will be radically different, but no less unique and well-designed.


Family Portrait, 2014.

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