My house now has three Zunes – White Zune for the wife and Black Zune for me. Red is my favorite color. Even though I already have Black Zune, I had to get Red Zune just because. It isn’t the red I expected or wanted, but it has already grown on me since I opened the box a couple of hours ago. Right now it is happily synching up the 20 gigs worth of stuff I already have synched to Black Zune.
I couldn’t stop there though. I also had to pick up the Zune FM Transmitter (so I can listen to my Zune audio in the car) and the Zune Dock. Overall I am happy with both though but neither is 100% perfect.
I am really digging the Zune Dock. Helps keep my from placing the Zune face down and thus prevents scratches on the face (note – I have had Black Zune since Christmas and do a LOT of traveling….nary a scratch). The Zune Dock also has a nifty slot for the remote. The remote is used when you dock the Zune and attach the supplied A/V cables to your home theater allowing you to view/listen to content from the Zune on a bigger screen. A little redundant for me since all that same content is already a part of my Media Center which is my Home Theater. Makes it pretty easy though to plug into most modern day A/V equipment.
The FM transmitter plugs into the base of the Zune and matches the design and coloring of the Black Zune. Since it is the same width and depth dimensions as the Zune player, the FM transmitter can be attached to the Zune while docked providing for pass through charging and sync. the transmitter supports autosearch to find a clear FM channel which makes up for the single station increments the arrow keys provide for. It is also interesting the transmitter increments by .1 covering the even and odd numbered frequencies, whereas FM radio is always on an odd-numbered frequency.
I think the FM transmitter will remain in my car……most….of…..wait a minute…..
The FM transmitter doesn’t have a huge range but I did manage to make it about 20 feet away before getting any crackling. Oh! I setup Black Zune with the FM transmitter and tuned White Zune to the station. I started streaming Genesis’ “Abacab”. This turns a Zune into a pseduo streaming device as long as everyone wants to listen to what I am listening to! It would be cool if there was a way to broadcast the FM station I am broadcasting on for discoverability.
The Dock can be plugged into A/C for charging using the USB to A/C converter, or, as I will use it, plugged in via USB next to my Laptop/HTPC.
Wires. Hate them. I dream of the day when wires go away. We had the stone age, the iron age, and I dream of the Tesla Age. No Wires. But to be fair, the wiring from the dock to the home theater is a single cable until you get the the HT side where it splits into 3 RCA plugs for V/L/R. Those dongles are 6″ long – just long enough to provide flexibility of cabling in a mish-mashed or old system and short enough to avoid being too cumbersome. Nice.
The dock itself has a shiny black top with the translucent plastic around the base. I like the shiny goodness but it loves my finger prints even more. Keep a soft cloth nearby to wipe it down regularly if you don’t want it to resemble the inside windows of a daycare. The dock looks great when Black Zune is in place but a little wonky when Red Zune is snuggled in. The White Zune provides a nice contrast.
The front of the Zune Dock has an annoying circle indent on it. This is where the IR receiver port is located. In any light at any angle it is visible and ruins an otherwise nice looking piece of equipment. I can’t imagine that little circle is absolutely required for functionality but maybe there is some IR property I can’t wrap my head around that requires a fraction of a millimeter less thickness in a 1/4″ circle to allow IR to pass.
While the FM transmitter can be used with the Zune while docked, I’m not sure I will do that often because it seems to stress the connection between the Zune and the FM transmitter. I imagine that a few bumps and connectors will get a little flaky.
I noted above that I could stream from one Zune to another using the FM transmitter. It seems the FM receiver or the FM transmitter is very directional. Just moving the Zune around in the air changed the reception dramatically. Not ideal for FM streaming.
There. That is my review….
If you are out and about with your Zune, check to see if you spot TheNun, Zunetopia, or Scarla nearby. I am happy to share what I have!