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Review: Hands On With Zune HD

Zune Gets Social Web

A social app connects your Microsoft Live account to any friends you may have on Microsoft’s network, either through Zune or Xbox Live. An inbox and friends list are available for you to share songs or quick messages.

The Web browser is very different from what we’re used to with the Touch and iPhone. The browser loads pages specifically designed for mobile devices (as opposed to the Apple devices, which typically load full pages), and it’s very quick (we’ll have full speed tests in the coming days). Preliminary tests show that the browser can access secured networks properly without conflict, that it can access required pop-ups, and that it does just about everything Apple’s mobile Safari browser does, with the exception of loading non-mobile sites in non-mobile format. Slide the command bar up from the bottom to type out a new URL or to set a favorite. More info about the social network and web browsing features can be found on page 7.

Typing on the Zune is not as natural as on the Touch/iPhone. It’s too easy to accidentally hit the wrong letter when typing quickly, even in landscape mode. There are no sound options for typing, so audio queues can’t help you catch your mistakes. Typing in landscape was easier, but the scrolling-method of choosing letters is not as precise as Apple’s interface. It works, but the accuracy is not up to par.

Applications are very few in number and are the weak link for the Zune HD. There are only nine in total, though plans to offer serious gaming titles like Forza Motorsport are rumored to be making their way to the Zune. We tested all nine of the applications, including Hexic, Calculator, Chess, MSN Weather, and a few other games. Most of the games seem like demos designed to show off what the Zune can do, which considering the games in question, is very little. The calculator app has an interesting function where when turned in portrait mode, it becomes a scientific calculator. The Chess app crashed whenever the computer was close to losing, but the other apps ran smoothly and without incident.