About a week ago, Microsoft released Zune 2.5, the latest update for the Zune media management software. Apparently this software update adds in some functionality that was previously removed (smart playlists) and adds quite a bit of new functions.
Other than the addition of smart playlists, Zune 2.5 didn’t really add any functionality that I envision myself using very often. I found a very good, accurate review of the new software and firmware on Paul Thurrott’s Web site.
In addition to what Paul had to say about the updates, I have to add that I am still sorely disappointed by the limited number of options I have when attempting to sort my music on the Zune, itself. When it comes to my music, I am very obsessive. My personal CD collection of nearly 700 CDs is organized very rigidly. First, I organize the albums alphabetically, according to the artist’s name (if it’s a single artist as opposed to a group or a band, I organize according to last name, but I realize that’s not going to happen any time in the near future when organizing things digitally). From there, I organize each of the artist’s albums chronologically.
The Zune software on the PC allows me to organize my music this way (artists are organized alphabetically, then the albums are organized chronologically, according to release year – although you can also organize the albums alphabetically a-z or z-a, you can organize them according to the date you added them to your watched folders and you can now organize them according to genre). However, the Zune firmware does not allow you nearly as many options. You only have a handful of options.
You can browse your artists alphabetically. Then, when you choose an artist, you only have the option to organize your albums alphabetically.
You can also browse all of your albums, all of your tracks or all of your genres, alphabetically, but you can’t narrow down your choices in any way.
Anyway, back on topic; I am interested to see how the purchase of television shows will work within the new Zune software. If it’s reasonable, I may do so. However, from what I’ve heard, they’re looking to charge $1.99 per episode (which is similar to the way iTunes apparently offers its TV downloads). That sounds reasonable, at first, but a lot of that is going to depend on the quality of the download.
If the download comes in DVD quality, that’s a good deal. However, if the only option is to download the episode in Zune-quality, that’s a huge ripoff. If you figure the numbers, $1.99 per episode works out to about $30 for an entire standard season of episodes. I can walk into Wal-Mart and purchase the DVD release of most TV shows for anywhere between $20 and $50. Why would I download a video that only looks good on a 3.5-inch screen for basically the same price I could purchase a DVD copy of it?