a little break

I’ve been doing some writing by my lonesome recently, but I figured it would be healthy to share a little something on the less creative side.

I don’t consider myself a particularly gadget-crazy person, but I do read a large volume of tech and gadget news week-to-week, which keeps me up on the new and pretty things that I will never buy. I did, however, make one exception to this pattern in buying a Zune HD. I pre-ordered one a few months back, payed the extra two bucks for release day shipping, and got to participate in the communal excitement that occurs with the release of something new and delightful in the world of technology.

It’s not that I harbor anything negative against Apple; I hold little regard for blind brand-maligning on every side of the fence. I am, however, quite disinterested in the iPod line. Though highly functional and decently stylish, I know my tendencies, and I am certain that I would find myself becoming quickly bored with something I’ve used hundreds of times without ever having owned one. My vanity is also quite consistent; the thing simply looks far prettier than its competition, and if I’m to be using something each and every day, I would expect it to meet a minimum standard of fashion.

Thus far, my choice has served me extremely well. It achieves a level of design that I think exemplifies where the user experience should be going: it executes its intended purpose without flaw, and I daresay that the experience of that execution is so smooth that it borders on the feeling of pleasant and calming. Something that gadgetry to date has failed to emulate is the sense of responsive tactile fiddling. A book’s pages can be idly flipped to and fro. A pen can be clicked again and again, until the person sitting next to you shoves a sock down your throat. Even something as simple as a piece of string occupies your fingers, delaying a feeling of idleness. Similarly, the Zune HD’s interface is so well designed that I find myself flipping through menus and exploring the mass of stuff I’ve put on there without even thinking about it. It leaves me excited for where technology will go from here, and that’s a nice feeling to have.

It also happens to be an immense upgrade from my previous mp3 player. For years I’ve been carrying around an 8gb refurbished Sansa that would freeze up several times a day, had barely ten hours of battery life, and looked slightly worse than Frankenstein on a Monday morning. It served its purpose nobly enough, but the massive gap between what I had and what I have certainly feeds a bit of the glee I feel over the Zune HD (I’m careful to include the HD portion, as I was no fan of the earlier Zunes). The fact that I can charge it for less than an hour and go for four days of constant usage blows my mind. Being able to fit (just barely) all of my music on it is also a delight; I’ve been slowly discovering portions of my collection that I never even knew existed.

I’ve heard high praise for its integration with the Zune marketplace, but not being one to buy music very often, I haven’t investigated it much. The browser is good enough for what I do (almost solely Google reader), and the apps thus far are mildly entertaining – though the fact that they throw ads at you is certainly infuriating.

A worthwhile purchase, for my own.