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Old 05-13-2010, 08:21 PM
D3ltra D3ltra is offline
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Default Using a Zune HD in the UK

First post - hey everyone! I'm Peter, an engineering student in the UK. Just thought I'd give a little run-down of my recent audio troubles and my Zune experience so far (2 days!). Feel free to skip the spiel and check out the summary at the bottom for UK zHD info.

So, a few weeks ago, I realise that my 2nd-gen iPod Nano (8GB) only has enough battery capacity to last approximately one and a half songs before needing a recharge. (Coincidentally the very same fate that met my iPod Mini before that.) I'd been using my (budget) smartphone, a Nokia 5530, as a stand-in for my music needs - that is, anywhere I can listen to music, I will do - so, wherever my laptop wasn't, I'd use my phone (you know, on the bus and stuff). Anyway, it's only got a 4GB card in it, so I was having to be very selective with my music (seeing as I have about 15GB!) But the phone music player is very slow, very cluttered, and generally lacking - it doesn't even have repeat or shuffle, as far as I can tell.

So, last weekend I started looking into getting a new mp3 player. Having decided I no longer like the lazy design of Apple (I find the iPhone and iTouch to be extremely boring to look at, and the Nano still has the same old basic UI), I start off by typing "alternatives to ipods" in google - first result, is (of course) anythingbutipod.com.

I started looking at some of the reviews, the editor's choices, the 2009 top 5, and the Zune HD caught my eye. I'd never even heard of it - probably because I'm in the UK - and up to now, I probably assumed a Zune was just "that thing you buy if you hate Apple". Anyway, I have a look at the S9, and the P3, but I think I'd already made my mind up. Even though I don't get the marketplace here, which is, undeniably, a shame, I don't really mind - the main feature I was looking for was a top notch UI, that looks nice and functions well.

I looked at a few posts by other UK users, who hadn't had any problems - so on Monday evening, went on eBay, and bought one (32GB, 200 with free special delivery) - it was in my hand in less than 36 hours.

I tentatively plug it in (having installed the software and sorted out all my music the day before) - it immediately suggests updating the firmware, and then starts syncing all my music. Didn't have to change region or pretend I live in America or anything - Microsoft don't mind us using it here, it seems; they just don't actively endorse it. I already love the Zune software; having used iTunes for years, you really notice the speedier response and the nice browsing features, as well as the general prettiness. Anyway, I left it to sync.

A couple of hours later, it's all done, and I start playing with it (like a kid at Christmas ). I love it, the OLED screen looks fantastic, and responds so much faster than my phone (the only other touchscreen device I've owned). The menus look great and browsing is really easy.

Thanks to the registry hack, I can still get the use of SmartDJ - which I think works extremely well, better than Apple Genius - except for one attempt earlier: I seemed to confuse it with Diablo Rojo by Rodrigo y Gabriela, to which it gave me things like some of my brass band music, and 'Wearing My Rolex' by Wiley (which, yes, is in my collection I'm afraid - I don't really know why, to be honest).

Personally, I don't mind not having access to the marketplace - I prefer buying CDs anyway, really, and I'm not too fussed about apps. Obviously they would be a nice perk, so it'll be good if they do roll out the marketplace to the UK, but I'm sure I'll survive until then it's all about the music, for me. But that's just personal preference, and probably the main dealbreaker if you're a potential non-US user. (It does, interestingly, still download bios and pictures for artists - this may be related to the registry hack, I don't know.)

For playback, being in a tiny bedroom in a, frankly, terrible student house, I hook up my Roland drum amp to my laptop - I don't really have room for speakers as well, and it does the job fine, especially on the bass end. I can plug in the Zune easily too, and it sounds fantastic.

For when I'm out and about,I had a pair of HD205s, but a few accidents involving my foot, the overly-long cable and standing up rapidly caused some serious breaks in the wires, to the point where you couldn't hear anything at all except random, intermittent bursts of noise. The left earphone of my phone earphones just went dead a couple of months after purchase, and they weren't really worth replacing, so I got some Sennheiser CX400II in-ears from Amazon for about 30. They're very good for sound, but I've kind of gone off the whole in-ear thing - they don't ever stay in my ears very well, they become uncomfortable extremely quickly, and when I'm walking, all sorts of sounds are transmitted straight through to my ear, from my footsteps, to the whistling air flow around the dangling earphone wires.

So, I got some Sennheiser PX200 headphones (again from Amazon, ~30), which have all the advantages of headphones, but with the compact size of earphones (to a certain extent, obviously). Together with the zHD, they make a pretty formidable combination if you're looking for portability.

I'm working on a setup so I can use it in the car - and found a UK supplier for Proclips and Brodit holders, including the zHD holder: (http://www.mountonus.com/Brodit-Mode...B-Holders.aspx).

So, to summarise, if you live in the UK and are thinking about getting a Zune HD, here are my thoughts and findings so far:
  • There are UK-based suppliers on eBay, or over at zunethings.co.uk, so purchase itself is not a problem (and works out no more expensive than shipping it from America, really). ZuneThings also sell the official accessories, should you want any of them (although they're pretty expensive, and there are cheaper alternatives around).
  • If you keep your PC region set to UK, the software will have several features removed, and your Zune will not show the Marketplace or Apps sections in the menu (although you can see the "marketplace discography" feature under artists you have, and listen to previews of songs). You can, however, retrieve SmartDJ functionality with the registry hack, which is well worth the (minimal) effort.
  • If you change your PC region, you can get access to the Marketplace and Social. To buy anything from the marketplace, you'll need Microsoft Points, which (as far as I know) you may be able to buy vouchers for online, or through your Xbox. Creating a Live ID with a US Zip code will let you make a Zune account and link it with your zHD - this will unlock the Marketplace and Apps sections. You can download free apps with no trouble whatsoever, and you can listen to song previews. Song purchase requires Microsoft points on your account.
  • Something I didn't even mention (as I don't really use it), but the Radio feature works fine, although the HD radio cannot be used, as it is completely separate from DAB in the UK.
  • The PC software is both functional and attractive, and even with the missing features, I already prefer it to iTunes. Note that you can't use it with a Mac - but having said that, I'd be surprised if there were many Mac users on this website.
  • It is quite pricey, but you get your moneys-worth - a sturdy product with very impressive hardware. Unless you're the kind of person who thinks the earphones that come with an iPod are "pretty decent", then the zHD is probably an unnecessary investment.
  • If you're just looking for a PMP with a sharp UI, I would highly recommend it. The screen looks great and responds very well, and the menu system is very polished.
(I'll keep revising this list as I find out more.)

Just realised how long this turned out. Thanks for reading, if you made it to the end!

Last edited by D3ltra; 05-14-2010 at 12:41 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-13-2010, 09:27 PM
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Vartex Vartex is offline
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Welcome to the forums! I read all of it. I like reading peoples stories for some reason.
Glad your enjoying the zune hd.
We all try to stay alive here but our numbers are dwindling. So stick around :P
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Old 05-13-2010, 09:53 PM
lip lip is offline
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You can have access to apps and everything else(Im in Canada which also does not get the HD officially)...

You just need to create a live account with an address outside of Canada...set your computer to USA and bingo...bobs your uncle!
I even get friends in the USA to purchase zune pass cards for me so I have the whole experience...
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Old 05-14-2010, 04:19 AM
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Strider_Aus Strider_Aus is offline
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Well I buy my Zune Passes on eBay, and get the Zune Market place working in Australia based on a US based Windows live account - but with the following restrictions I reckon will also apply in the UK:

1. Music - Working.
2. Apps - Working
3. Videos: Movies - Cannot access in my region (even with US live account)
4. Videos: TV - Cannot access in my region (even with US live account)
5. Videos: Music Videos - Only by redemption of MS / Live points, not free.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-14-2010, 07:19 AM
Broodbeleg Broodbeleg is offline
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My friend got my zune HD a week ago. I'm from the Netherlands myself and I got the marketplace and appstore working. Just set your regionsettings in your windows to US and you'll be fine.

(@ Win7 press start, type region --> go to the tab "location" --> click US) :-)
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Old 05-14-2010, 07:41 AM
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Strider_Aus Strider_Aus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broodbeleg View Post
I got the marketplace and appstore working.(@
So with the market place can you download movies / TV per my post above ???
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Old 05-14-2010, 07:51 AM
D3ltra D3ltra is offline
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Interesting... would I have to reinstall the Zune software after changing my region? (I didn't do that before, as I think I read somewhere that it doesn't work anymore.) I can go to the marketplace on my Zune, browsing from an artist to Market Discography, but I can't access it from the main menu.

Also, the Marketplace registry hack doesn't appear to have any effect in the software, and if I click "more about this artist at zune.net", I get redirected to ciao.co.uk.
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Old 05-14-2010, 10:34 AM
Broodbeleg Broodbeleg is offline
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Well, I didn't, and it worked for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strider_Aus View Post
So with the market place can you download movies / TV per my post above ???
Haven't tried it, since I download my movies and music from other sources. However, I can browse through the library in marketplace and when I click a song I can click buy. When I click on the buy button it says I don't have enough Microsoft funny money points. Same for movies.
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Old 05-14-2010, 10:44 AM
Jacob Jacob is offline
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My app market place works with no extension. I did change my region to America though.
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Old 05-14-2010, 11:07 AM
D3ltra D3ltra is offline
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Ok, so I now have the Marketplace running! That was easy. I don't have any Microsoft points though, so I can't buy anything, and if I did, some of it seems pretty pricey anyway. Can I get away with using the free 14 day Zune Pass trial? They want a lot of personal information, although I'm sure I can make half of it up.

PS, if anyone asks, I now live in Lansing, Michigan (as of 10 minutes ago).
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Old 05-14-2010, 11:19 AM
Broodbeleg Broodbeleg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D3ltra View Post
Ok, so I now have the Marketplace running! That was easy. I don't have any Microsoft points though, so I can't buy anything, and if I did, some of it seems pretty pricey anyway. Can I get away with using the free 14 day Zune Pass trial? They want a lot of personal information, although I'm sure I can make half of it up.

PS, if anyone asks, I now live in Lansing, Michigan (as of 10 minutes ago).
Good job! And about the Zune Pass, i dont know. Was wondering it myself too. So hopefully someone can enlighten us. :d
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Old 05-14-2010, 11:46 AM
D3ltra D3ltra is offline
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So... I go to apps, and I can get, among other things, a Facebook and Twitter app? I don't use twitter, and don't care enough about FB to have it on my phone, let alone my Zune, but I was under the impression they still didn't exist, and that as such, people were annoyed? Also, AUDIOSURF TILT?! I love Audiosurf...

PS Is it free? I was expecting it to cost points, but it appears to be downloading...

PPS Thanks all of you for encouraging me to try the region switch - I likely won't use the marketplace for music, but if apps like Audiosurf work, it'll be epic. I'll post back in a bit.
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Old 05-14-2010, 12:11 PM
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So for me, the issue with TV / Movies etc as per my post above is that I can select them, click on the d/l button and all seems to be well.

Then, as the Zune software goes to d/l the selected TV episode or Movie, their is a final region check that DOES NOT happen for Music. At this point the purchase/download process is aborted with a "your region is not supported".

This extra region check does NOT happen when clicking on d/l or buy music.
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Old 05-14-2010, 12:11 PM
D3ltra D3ltra is offline
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Sweet. I can download free apps!



Sorry for the crappy photo - taken with my phone camera, whilst trying to play the game. Which, by the way, takes full advantage of the vibrant colours the screen can show - it looks great.

Also, here's a photo I took when I opened the box - I thought the title on the first little leaflet thing was either a terrible stab at irony, or has just gone straight over MS' heads. Maybe one of the marketing guys probably thought it might be funny, I dunno.



I better revise the first post a bit.

Also, when you consider how accurately a random ad or popup can pinpoint your location from your IP, I'm inclined to believe that Microsoft are content to allow us to use the services and say nothing about it, rather than actively condone or condemn it either way, and get into legal scuffles.
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Old 05-14-2010, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D3ltra View Post
Also, when you consider how accurately a random ad or popup can pinpoint your location from your IP, I'm inclined to believe that Microsoft are content to allow us to use the services and say nothing about it, rather than actively condone or condemn it either way, and get into legal scuffles.
Except for TV and Movies I think you will find....
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Old 05-14-2010, 12:46 PM
D3ltra D3ltra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strider_Aus View Post
Except for TV and Movies I think you will find....
I can only assume there are legal ramifications that they cannot ignore for TV shows. Until moderately recently, I couldn't access any of the videos on the South Park website, although that changed at some point, it seems. Might be something to do with network rights.

Also, I'm looking at getting a USB charger for the coming holidays - can I use one of the generic ones, such as this? (Same question also applies to generic USB car chargers.)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/LUPO-1000mA-...3858507&sr=8-2
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  #17  
Old 05-14-2010, 02:07 PM
abr abr is offline
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Default Wifi access to marketplace

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strider_Aus View Post
Well I buy my Zune Passes on eBay, and get the Zune Market place working in Australia based on a US based Windows live account - but with the following restrictions I reckon will also apply in the UK:

1. Music - Working.
2. Apps - Working
3. Videos: Movies - Cannot access in my region (even with US live account)
4. Videos: TV - Cannot access in my region (even with US live account)
5. Videos: Music Videos - Only by redemption of MS / Live points, not free.

Hope this helps.
Strider_Aus,

Since you have a Zune pass, can you confirm whether you can access and download from the marketplace using wifi outside the US? If you can then presumably when you use Smart DJ with wifi access, it uses marketplace songs as well as songs on the device?

Thanks
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Old 05-14-2010, 02:29 PM
NSILMike NSILMike is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D3ltra View Post
So... I go to apps, and I can get, among other things, a Facebook and Twitter app? I don't use twitter, and don't care enough about FB to have it on my phone, let alone my Zune, but I was under the impression they still didn't exist, and that as such, people were annoyed? Also, AUDIOSURF TILT?! I love Audiosurf...

PS Is it free? I was expecting it to cost points, but it appears to be downloading...

PPS Thanks all of you for encouraging me to try the region switch - I likely won't use the marketplace for music, but if apps like Audiosurf work, it'll be epic. I'll post back in a bit.
the marketplace is very convenient (but not req'd) for podcast subscriptions, and offers free music from time to time. points are a pita, so I use (100% DRM free) amazon... you can use whatever you like, including iTunes (make sure the tracks are DRM-free...they claim 100% but some users say a few here and there still have fairplay.) Apps are all free- used to be ad supported but not any longer.
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Old 05-14-2010, 04:00 PM
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Strider_Aus Strider_Aus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abr View Post
Strider_Aus,
Since you have a Zune pass, can you confirm whether you can access and download from the marketplace using wifi outside the US? If you can then presumably when you use Smart DJ with wifi access, it uses marketplace songs as well as songs on the device?
Thanks
Yes I can ! Works just fine. I can access Marketplace, download music and Smart DJ chooses from both my Device Collection and Marketplace.
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Old 05-14-2010, 06:09 PM
lip lip is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strider_Aus View Post
Well I buy my Zune Passes on eBay, and get the Zune Market place working in Australia based on a US based Windows live account - but with the following restrictions I reckon will also apply in the UK:

1. Music - Working.
2. Apps - Working
3. Videos: Movies - Cannot access in my region (even with US live account)
4. Videos: TV - Cannot access in my region (even with US live account)
5. Videos: Music Videos - Only by redemption of MS / Live points, not free.

Hope this helps.
Strange...all works for me
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