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8:00am: local Target opens (target had the best 'deal' in my opinion -- $249 w/$25 gift card, but Costco will likely have the best overall retail cost)

8:45am: i arrive at target to see how things are going.  shelves are empty, speaker accessories were empty...only thing there was the display for Zune (which was pretty decent).  wow, i thought, i can't believe they sold out.

as i walked out of the store i made a comment to the person working the area: sold out pretty fast?...to my surprise (or actually my expected result when i walked in the store) he said: nope, haven't even put them out yet.  that's right, no demand for them to even worry about stocking the shelves.  a colleague of mine went to his local best buy...they didn't even know what zune was, nor did they have the zune display setup (but they acknowledged they had it).  he even said he witnessed a couple talking about buying an ipod and the woman really wanting an fm radio as a part of it...the clerk at best buy simply said the ipod didn't have it -- made no mention of the zune (it has it).

made a trip to another target later -- there the clerk was enthusiastic about them but acknowledged that zune had an uphill battle.  he said he thinks it is a better device (comparing it to the 30GB ipod).  my sister-in-law just went and bought one at target as well and said the guy was well informed and really was selling them.

the biggest missing link though?: accessories.  the stores i went to had zunes only.  no adapters (home/car), no headphones (yes it can use standard ones, but zune produced some 'premium' headphones branded for the zune), nada.  i think that may be the detriment to long term sales...we really need(ed) some cool accessories to drive it home.  give me an armband or something -- even if i don't use it, let me know people are interested in making things for it.  hopefully someone will come up with an OEM car adapter for me :-).  another thing i don't think we are doing effectively is communicating about the colors (brown, black and white).  even on the site where it shows the device there is no mention of the difference.  now there is no technical difference, but each zune does come pre-loaded with content.  that content is a part of the 'personality' of the device.  now these are my own generalizations and since i've not seen anything official, they aren't gospel.  i thought the brown was ugly...until i saw it and learned more about it (see below).  brown basically is like an x-games theme: skaters, skiers, mountain-bikers.  alternative, world, punk, energetic music.  graffitti, dj pics.  black (from what i hear) is more like blues themed.  white...well i don't know but i'm thinking "think hillary duff" -- no confirmation of that though.  so it ended up that the brown (to me) was more desireable.  only one retail person i talked to knew about these differences!

there are a few things i don't like about it after using it. 

1) the zune software -- it's okay, but i had hoped that i'd be able to do some things outside of the software -- you know, like having windows recognize it as a drive and just be able to drag/drop rather than have some software control my sync situation.  in windows explorer it doesn't even show it as a device -- that sucks.  the software also just looks like a media player skin -- so why not just use media player?

2) ms points -- i've seen this in the xbox 360 for a while...never used them.  i get the whole vision now of course -- i buy points and can use them to apply anywhere to my entertainment experiences whether that be xbox or zune or whatever.  i haven't bought any yet to test out the experience (mainly because my credit card was inadvertently cancelled by wells fargo -- another rant for later)

3) charging -- haven't convinced myself if this is a bad thing or not yet...when plugged in to my machine there is no indication of charging until i do something on the screen.  now i guess that might be good to protect screen burnout and overheating, but it was a subtle thing i like(d) about my ipod that it showed me the charging state.

4) picture scaling -- one of the options the zune has is to personalize it (so far all i've found is the ability to set a background).  the background only displays in a portrait mode of the device (controls on bottom), so i made sure i chose a picture that was portrait-formatted as i was sure others wouldn't look good.  to my surprise, the zune didn't scale it...part of the picture is cropped...hmm, that sucks.  i tried it with a landscape pic and sure enough it cropped a lot.  not to cool i thought...i would have figured a scale at least on a portrait pic!

5) device naming -- it makes a big deal in the setup about naming your device, but the only place on the device it shows it is in the wireless sections.  if my name is part of the personality, maybe put it somewhere more visible?

6) size -- it's 'industrial' to say the least.  my wife is a runner.  this device is not for her...huge and too heavy for her arm -- her ipod nano kills zune in this scenario

7) 'hello from seattle' - a tag line on the back.  first of all if that is meant to give homage to microsoft, then it should be 'hello from redmond' right?  i mean are we saying we don't know where microsoft is?

8) headphones -- you get what you pay for and arguably these are free -- hey, i didn't even use my ipod free ones either.

9) zune.net -- the site has more external links and popups than i care for in a site -- consolidate guys -- keep me at a singular location and brand.

there are a lot of things i do like about the zune as well aside from it being generally a great device

1) capacity -- biggest ipod i've owned is 6gb...main reason was i didn't want a big device...yeah, i know -- but i'm brainwashed and do anything billg says :-) -- of course i had to get a zune!

2) colors -- as mentioned above, each has a unique 'personality' -- the brown actually has a green translucence to it which looks cool; black has a blue one, and white...well again, i haven't seen it but white sucks anyway :-)

3) feel -- it is big and industrial, but that is also good in a way (at least in the design sense).  it feels great, the case appears to be scratch-resistent...it isn't metal feeling, it isn't plastic feeling -- it is nice and solid.

4) no marketing -- the only logo is when it boots up and the etching on the back.  nice -- no fluff -- there to do what it came for.

ultimately i like it so far -- i haven't gone through the task of transfering my 3700 songs in MP3 format from my mac to my pc to be able to sync (ugh), but i'll eventually get to them all a little at a time.  i also haven't had the chance to be within 30 feet of another zune to test out the sharing feature.

check them out though -- again, if you don't have an mp3 player at all (read: you have no context to what an ipod can do), it's a good buy in my opinion for the comparable products out there.

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