Retrevo gang tests out Microsoft Zune OOBE

So, what should I do with the two Zunes today to test them out? Well, I didn’t open them last night. This morning I came in and brought them to an interview at Retrevo where we opened them for the first time and then spent more than an hour playing with them and passing them around the engineering team and talking about the first impressions of the Zune. Retrevo is a gadget search engine that’s pretty interesting. They say it’s the ultimate consumer electronics search engine.

Here’s their engine’s result set for Zune.

There’s eight guys from the Retrevo team including engineers, marketers, and the CEO, Vipin Jain.

First off disaster. The one Microsoft loaded had an error on it and needed to be rebooted, which deleted all the content on it. (One was opened and loaded by Microsoft with more content, that one arrived with an error on its screen. The other one, unopened by Microsoft, worked perfectly).

We fixed that and then started playing. The install took more than 15 minutes.

What do the geeks at Retrevo think?

Andrew Eisner (who used to be in charge of testing for ZDLabs and also ran MacUser labs) says that the radio wasn’t very good. Needed to walk over by the window to use it. But, that’s unscientific.

The entire team has iPods. So, this is an experienced music player group. The team says they are all gadget freaks, which is why they work at a gadget search engine.

Other reactions?

Box? The external box is great, Charles Wilson says.

The feel of the Zune? Great. “Brown is the new black,” Matthew Stotts says. We have one brown and one black. It feels a lot nicer than it looks on the Web. Nice anti-scratch design. “I like the translucence,” Charles says.

Interface? Scroll wheel? Matthew says he instantly tried to use it like an iPod. Was disappointed that it didn’t work.

Volume? Andrew says that the volume didn’t go loud enough.

Music sharing? They are playing with it right now. Figuring out how to send it took a few minutes. Actually sending a song took less than a minute. “It’s quick,” Charles says.

Screen quality? “Pretty good,” says Kirk Chen. “Nice looking,” Andrew says. “Better than the iPod,” says Jiang Wu. “For cartoons this screen is great,” Jiang says.
Smudging (we’re eating pizza). “No smudging,” Andrew says.

Overall feature set? “Doesn’t seem like there’s much to it,” Andrew says, which starts a discussion of what else the team would want. Games.

Video? “Not bad.” Being able to spin the screen is a nice touch Vipin says. They note that my videos that I’m filming won’t be able to be played (I record in Quicktime). On the other hand, my videos don’t currently work on iPod either (I need to re-compress them for the smaller size and format that the iPod needs.

Case? “Sensual feel,” Charles says. It’s a soft bag.

Sharing of video? Doesn’t work yet.

Andrew notes that you can’t record from radio. “Other MP3 players let you do that,” he says.

“How zune will it be hacked?” Andrew says. “If people can write third-party applications for it then you’d see people writing open-source browsers and other applications.”

Battery? Can’t be replaced and the case isn’t designed to be opened (at least that we could figure out).

We couldn’t test whether or not a ripped MP3 could be shared.

Andrew wonders how it works with podcasts (he listens to TWiT and NPR, among others).

Ruggedness? It seems more rugged, Vipin says.

Overall impression? “I don’t like the bulkiness,” Vipin says. “If I were a pre-teen or teen and I didn’t have an iPod, I’d buy this. Mostly for the sharing features,” Matthew says. Overall, though, the team gave it thumbs down compared to the iPod. But, not a strong thumbs down. It did — at minimum — intrigue them.

If you don’t know what OOBE stands for, that’s “Out Of Box Experience.”


Two Zunes arrived…

It’s Zune day. Despite my being harsh, two Zunes arrived tonight for me to play with. I didn’t ask for them. Edelman sent them over. Very nice of them. It says I can keep one, if I want, or I can send them both back (they included postage-paid return box). One of them is just so I can test out the music sharing part of the Zune.

Ahh, it’s 12:21 p.m. — zune it’ll be Zune time. Heheh.

First I gotta go through my feeds for my link blog. There’s a TON of great stuff on the feeds today.