My Zune Has Died, Now What?
You didn’t read that wrong, yeah own a Zune. I know it hasn’t been relevant in over 5 years, and I know physical media players are a thing of the past, but let’s move past that. I loved that thing and It recently had a catastrophic hard drive crash. So I either need to replace it, or move on. I have a bunch of options, but can’t decide what’s the best idea. Here’s a rundown.
I could straight up replace it, I could join a music service like Spotify, I could use online storage options like Amazon Music or Google Music, I could buy a microSD card for my current smart phone, or I could buy a Windows Phone with expandable memory and get a microSD card for it. Each of these have pros and cons. My chief concerns are storage space, price, convenience, syncing capability, and security issues. I REALLY like the desktop Zune software. Its convenient, and easy to use. Its syncs everything like iTunes would, except the user interface is 400x better. All of my playlists are composed and saved in its format and would be a pain to move. Compatibility with this software is a big factor in my decision. Its time to actually break down the options.
Replacement: Buying another 120 GB Zune sounds easy enough, but right now they are selling for $200 used and $600 new on Amazon. It won’t be cheap to replace. Also, they are not being manufactured anymore so there’s a finite number of them out there and having had to replace the battery in multiple units, I don’t trust that a replacement will last as long as my first one did. As much as a I just want a replacement, it may not be my best choice. There’s something to be said about physical buttons though. Its really nice being able to reach over and press pause without opening the case or even looking at the device. I will miss that SOOOO much.
Spotify: I like what Spotify is doing. Its Netflixing music. That’s a great idea, but a few things stand in the way of me really enjoying it. First, it doesn’t have all music. I like some very specific stuff, and I don’t want to have to go into different apps to pull up old obscure tracks not on the service. Also, acts like Taylor Swift and The Black Keys are against their new music being on the service. I respect that decision, but not knowing if my favorite artists are going to be locked away from me on this service has me second guessing it all together. Second, I don’t like the user interface, I was very quickly confused by it and the UI is really all they need to get right for it to be successful.
Online Storage: Services like Amazon Music and Google Music allow you to upload your music library and play it on any smart device from the cloud. I really like this idea, and have been using Google Music as a stop gap measure since my Zune died. Playing my collection directly from an app is working pretty well. Outside of the headphone jack on my phone being garbage and the often spotty cell service of Cspire, this is a totally viable option. However, I kinda have a ridiculous amount of music. Both of these services have data or song limits and in both scenarios I greatly exceed those limits. Also, in the case of Google Music, the management and organization of the music isn’t nearly as robust as something like Zune or iTunes, which has made getting everything setup and moved around cumbersome. Its cool that any smart device can use the music, but it sucks that all my playlists will have to be rebuilt manually (a process that could take dozens of hours). My last concern is data security. What is keeping Google from combing through my data and alerting copyright holders that the music may be pirated. I’ve bought a large amount of my music through CDs and ripped them. Other songs may not be as legit. I’d like to keep my anonymity…at least a little.
microSD Card in My Current Smartphone: I have a Galaxy S3, will soon probably be getting a S5 or 6, and storing my tracks on it is a possibility. 64 GB microSD cards are only about $30 online. That’s a huge downgrade from my 120 GB Zune, but I do already have the device, and the software to manage the music would be free. I could store everything locally, and I’m sure at least one of the managing softwares is a decent Zune replacement. Downside, the legwork. Getting the SD card is the easy part. Learning a new software, getting all the music moved to it, converting all playlists to be usable in the software, dealing with my photos and videos already on my phone, and then after all that making a final decision on if I chose the right software. If I didn’t, I then have to start the process over with a different app/software. Then what happens when I get a new phone? Will I find out that my app doesn’t roll everything over easily? All of these things seem like a huge headache. I’m a busy man, I don’t want to do that. I’m sure once set up I’ll be fine with how it functions, but the setup is the hurdle I don’t want to jump.
Windows Phone + MicroSD Card: I don’t want a new phone. I really like my Galaxy S and I plan on staying in the Galaxy/Android family when I upgrade. What I’m proposing here is getting a cheap Windows Phone that has expandable memory and using it as a media player. You may ask, “Why don’t you just use your galaxy?” I knew you would ask that. See…the Window’s Phone operating system uses the Zune PC software as its media management platform. All of my settings and playlists could easily be dropped onto the device with minimal work. My storage would be limited to approximately 72 GB of music, but it wouldn’t have to fight with my pics and videos for space like it would on my Android. Yeah, I would be that weirdo that carries 2 phones, but I’m already the weirdo who proudly carried a Zune, so is it really that different? I’m looking at roughly a $65 commitment to get a Nokia Lumia 520 and a 64 GB microSD card. I could go with a 128 GB card, but compatibility with the 520 is still iffy. Also, that’s a change that can always be made later. 128 GB cards are about $80 right now. Everything in this option is cheaper than replacing the Zune with a Zune. The biggest downside here is all the music would be trapped on my one device. Sure, that’s how I’ve always had it, but the cloud options listed above make it possible for my wife to listen to my music library on her phone and tablet. This has been an unexpected perk of me using Google Music.
I know this is a weird decision to have to make, but music must happen and listening to the radio is not an option. I’m leaning towards buying a Windows Phone, and basically backdooring my way back to having a Zune. It seems to be the option that most closely maintains the status quo without costing 3 figures. I might update this post or make a new post once I decide. Who knows. Also, please if you have any suggestions let me know.
P.S. – Don’t message me with this “just use iTunes” crap. The decision to go Zune was made because I don’t like iPods and despise iTunes, so that’s out of the question.