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Microsoft’s very own holiday home, Zune music, offers its customers a modern, stylish music software and download system. Just what we’d expect from Microsoft. Zune is centred around helping you to find the latest hits in music and video through its online store and well presented software. You can browse, preview or buy music, film and more.
A knockout feature of Zune is its video options, which mean that you can now watch the music videos for the songs you adore. Tie this in with the use of the xbox as a hardware device accessible by Zune and suddenly your home television becomes your own personalised music video screen. You won’t need a huge expensive specialised TV set, just one that works with an xbox. And of course you can do the same thing on your laptop or home computer. The software is easy to use and has been well designed, meaning it’s an attractive package.
But it’s not all happy sailing and margaritas in the sun. Though Zune’s search features, music quality and choice are adequate, the tracks are often protected, meaning that you can do little or nothing with them once your subscription ends Zune’s software is a necessity, in fact you can do little without it. There are pros and cons to this, though downloading and using the software to access the Zune Marketplace will mean that your music should run efficiently. However, it also means that you can only sync with other Zune players. Zune’s support includes help forums and since Microsoft is such a big name, they have a lot of pre-existing online advice and a community of people willing to help with any issues, though it is difficult to get hold of a real life human being to take you through the steps to happiness.
Zune offers a range of payment styles to suit your needs. To begin with it might be a good idea to try Zune’s 14 day free trial of their Media Pass. This lets you stream and download unlimited music without any subscription fee. Be careful to cancel it if you’re not pleased with the service though, as subscriptions are automatically updated and you’ll be billed. If you choose to take out a subscription Zune is pretty reasonable, with a year’s contract coming to around £10 a month. Given that this provides unlimited music and music videos, that’s not a bad deal! Alternatively you can buy songs using Microsoft Points (explained in the costs section of this review), which are easy to purchase online, in stores or through xbox live. If you’ve nothing else to spend your Microsoft Points on this means that any points you buy will have to be spent on Zune. This might encourage you to try out a few new tracks, but it might also mean that some of your money goes to waste. The points don’t have an expiry date, though, and If you’re an avid xbox gamer you can still spent on game upgrades and downloadable content.
Overall Zune is a modern looking package with a choice of payment options, none of which are expensive. Its links with music videos and the xbox hardware give it an edge but it does demand that you use its software and nothing else. Because the vast majority of its songs are protected, if you decide to move on from them you essentially lose your music collection, which feels a bit cruel. Zune does some things right but a number of things quite averagely. That said, this isn’t a bad option, particularly for gamers who are looking to use up a few of their spare Microsoft Points on music and video. Bon voyage.
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