Via Engadget, it appears that the 802.11b functionality built into Microsoft’s Zune player, due November 14, is pretty feeble. The song-swapping feature is hobbled by DRM, which itself is burdened by its exclusivity. As noted in this space and countless others, Zune utilizes a new encryption standard, and in the process orphans Plays For Sure and alienates countless content partners.
What’s in the wireless? Here’s a breakdown:
Search for and find other Zunes nearby.
Send songs / albums for the 3 x 3 trial. Songs past the three days / listens are deleted at next sync, but catalogued on your PC for record-keeping should you want to purchase them later. No word on whether Microsoft is going to keep track of which files are traded.
Send and receive image files for “unlimited viewing.” (Oh, so copyrighted images aren’t worth DRMing?)
Connect to the internet.
Download songs directly from the Zune store via WiFi.
Sync to your computer via WiFi.
What’s still not clear is whether the song-swapping feature is limited to Zune DRM’d songs, or if it works regardless of format. Because of the 3×3 shutdown capability, I’d say it’s just Zune format, but I could be wrong.
The Zune’s wireless capability could be used further down the road, a move that would be consistent with Microsoft’s actions on another platform. Comments Ashley Allen:
They put a network card in every Xbox and it was pretty much useless for the first year, but then Xbox Live came round and totally changed the whole market and then if you look at where Xbox Live started and where it is today… MS gave the people what they wanted.
I wouldn’t be suprised if features like WiFi on Zune access to the Marketplace, Zune Marketplace on 360, WiFi Syncing and such come along very soon. But at least it has the possibility to do these things in the future.
Another feature I’d like to see is yet to be discussed – using WiFi to access rich content on the Internet. Obviously it’s not there, since the only WiFi thing the Zune does is talk other Zunes.
So far, nothing about the Zune impresses me, apart from a nice display.