How Do You Listen to Music? - Shawn Oster
Shawn Oster (gravatar)

How Do You Listen to Music?

With the recent announcement of the new Zunes coming this fall and the accompanying software, firmware, web site, server and music policy changes a lot of people have taken up the popular Zune vs. iPod debate.

There are lots of comparing of features, disappointments that the Zune doesn't do everything the iPod does and general hand wringing over the lack of various features.  Some people are quite down on the new Zune, others much more excited, yet in all of this not many people touch on the core reason that iPods and Zunes exist... to listen to music.

A lot of people are upset over the lack of a WiFi Marketplace to compete with WiFi iTunes yet this doesn't seem like a real need that occurs in the daily use of people's lives.  It is definitely cool to buy music from your device but after that initial, "Look what I can do!" how many people will actually use the feature?  Do people find themselves that often away from a computer, needing to buy music yet happening to be near an open wireless hotspot?

Some people compare the iPod and Zune as if they're comparing high-end sports cars that will be driven in 8-to-5 traffic.  Does it really matter if you car can go 180 mph or that it's 0 to 60 can smoke a new set of tires?  Not really since those are rare edge cases, not anything that supports the core experience, that of sitting in mind numbing traffic.

All of this begs the question, how do you listen to music and what features best support that experience? 

Personally I sync every day to get the latest podcasts and song ratings/metadata so Zune's auto wifi sync is a time saver.  I buy music from emusic and Amazon or actual physical CDs,  a Marketplace/iTunes WiFi Store isn't going to help me much there.  I listen to a few daily podcasts so native podcasting ability is nice and both iTunes and the new Zune software have support plus FeedDemon actually does a great job so that's a wash.  I don't use or want a PDA so the Touch is a bit of a non-feature.  I have a medium (large?) music collection around 80gb so a 160gb iPod would be perfect, but that doesn't have wireless anything so I lose out there.

Point being that when you apply a bit of reality to how you'll actually use these devices there isn't nearly that big a difference between them.  Hell,  a lot of the reasons I like the Zune is I just dig the matte-black look and bigger screen.  I wish a lot more of these reviewers and bloggers would compare real world use vs. specs.


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