Zune can’t party like it’s 2009

Why are MP3 players so hard to get right? A few months ago, my year-and-a-half-old and largely babied iPod 5.5G gave up the ghost. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised; after all, Steve Jobs thinks we should all be buying iPods “at least once a year,” ostensibly to stay on top of Apple’s latest innovations. Uhuh.

So I switched to a poo-brown Zune 30 that I had sitting around. I’m not a huge Zune fan—it’s too big for my tastes, and the battery life is quite poor. However, the latest firmware update improved the device’s already excellent interface, and for a few months at least, all was well. That is, until this morning, when the Zune refused to boot up. I tried to reset the device, but that didn’t help. Neither did plugging it into my PC. And I’m not alone.

It turns out that an epidemic of failures is cascading across the Zune 30 landscape. Rumor has it that the failures are tied to the hardware clock inside the device, which supposedly didn’t deal well with the lead up to the new year. Microsoft has at least acknowledged the issue, posting the following on its official Zune support site:

Customers with 30gb Zune devices may experience issues when booting their Zune hardware. We’re aware of the problem and are working to correct it. Sorry for the inconvenience, and thanks for your patience!

There are a few resurrection tips floating around, including warranty-voiding battery removal. Resetting your PC’s clock and disabling the Windows Time Service and all Zune-related services and applications apparently helps, too, but I’m in no mood to experiment. I shouldn’t have to.

So now I’m down to my Sansa Clip, which is mercifully working. For now.

Update — It appears that Microsoft has isolated the issue. A driver bug is apparently jacking with the Zune’s internal clock, which will automatically reset itself by noon tomorrow, GMT. And then, like magic, Zune 30s should rise from the dead.

Comments closed
    • d0g_p00p
    • 11 years ago

    Who thought brown would be an attractive color for a MP3 player?

      • designerfx
      • 11 years ago

      do you know how many “taking it in the brown” jokes were caused by Microsoft? 😀

      honestly, sometimes people will just lap up the horror that is ms, hahaha.

    • Draxo
    • 11 years ago

    zune/ipod how many of them play flac and ogg formats? I’ll stick with my cowon.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      The only problem there is Cowon doesn’t have any reasonably priced high capacity HD players. For flash-based players I agree completely but there just isn’t much competition in the high capacity devices.

        • Draxo
        • 11 years ago

        What is the use of high capacity if you are not going to be able to use a good codac? I use mine for music and it plays all file types. 8 or 16 gb is plenty long to load. How long will it take to load a 120 gb? And would you be able to listen to the whole content before your power ran out?

          • Skrying
          • 11 years ago

          You can’t tell the difference between a well encoded MP3 and FLAC. That is a fact, demonstrated time and time again when doing double-blind testing. It might be worthy to back up to but for a portable player MP3 and other modern compressions are more than fine.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 11 years ago

            THANK YOU SKRYING. I get so tired of the MP3 BS. You don’t even need to make ginormous ones for them to be indistinguishable from the source audio on the highest end equipment money can buy.

            In other words, stop making crappy MP3s.

            • Usacomp2k3
            • 11 years ago

            I certainly can’t. Heck, anything above a good 64kbps aac/wma doesn’t enhance my listening experience much at all.

            • designerfx
            • 11 years ago

            try using a high quality set of headphones and the difference is enormous. For most of us, that means nothing.

            However, for people with nice sennheisers for example, the difference of a 320kbps and a 128kbps is night and day.

            Meanwhile, the thing that is no difference with double blinds is the CABLES aka monster cable. You can use fancypancy cables or just a wire and it’s all the damn same.

            • no51
            • 11 years ago

            Not a lot of people buy headphones that cost more than $20

            • Skrying
            • 11 years ago

            I have a pair of Denon AH-D1000 on my head right now that just arrived. I have a pair of AKG K81DJs as my mobile pair and I’ve personally owned headphones as expensive as Sennheiser’s HD650. It still doesn’t matter. Modern codecs a high bit rate are indistinguishable from lossless files to the human ear, the only way to tell is by analyzing them in a program. It has been proven time and time again to be the case. By unbiased forum members and by professional members of the audio press and manufacturer industry. The only barrier remaining is peoples egos.

            Lossless compression techniques such as FLAC have their place. It is a wonderful way to make a digital backup of a collection. But it is not a portable codec yet. Hard drive based players are simply not large enough and likely never will be for people with sizable music collections.

            • Lazier_Said
            • 11 years ago

            128kbps MP3 is not ‘well encoded’ for most material. Too much compression, noticeable losses. Which is why 128kbps encoding largely disappeared years ago.

            The difference from 128kbps to 192 is significant.

            The difference from 192kbps to 320, or FLAC, or ape, or whatever your audiophile flavor is is effectively zero and many double blind tests have objectively proven that.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 11 years ago

          Because not everyone uses their player the same exact way you do and may want high capacity. Some people like having all, or as much as possible, of their music collection available at any time and don’t load it daily or once per charge. As for codecs, yea it would be nice if every one had FLAC and Ogg but it’s not a deal killer because Zune and iPod Classic both support some form of lossless and on a high capacity DAP there’s loads of space for high bitrate mp3s. Personally I don’t see the point of FLAC on flash DAPs yet because the capacities are still too low, Ogg is nice for them though because you can encode to a smaller file size than mp3 for roughly the same SQ.

          I don’t know if or why you took offense though because I agreed the Korean *flash* DAPs are superior to MS and Apple flash DAPs, just stated the fact that it’s unfortunate they don’t have any price-competitve high capacity one. I don’t understand what you’re going off about, it’s sort of Krogoth-like tbh….’No one else should have any usage pattern or preference for a device different than mine.’

    • shaq_mobile
    • 11 years ago

    y2.009k

    i havent tried to turn on my 80gb zune. is this JUST 30gb zune?

    ive had a nomad jukebox 40gb that ran AWESOME for 2 years and still works except the charger got lost. my zune is about 6 months old and i get astounding battery life from it, 14 hours is the record if i do NOT touch it to activate the screen. The screen eats the battery life like mad. I went to a party one night, left it playing in my car, went back the next day and left my stereo off because i was a little hungover. later that day for lunch i went driving and turned on my stereo to hear my zune still chugging.

    • A_Pickle
    • 11 years ago

    OMG. L4D MP3 STYLE.

    D:

    • willyolio
    • 11 years ago

    huh. iriver ihp-120, 5 years old and still chugging along just fine.

    • Jakubgt
    • 11 years ago

    Had a first gen 60gb video ipod for about 3 or so years. Works like a charm still, even tho I feel the battery is about to give up on me sometime soon

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 11 years ago

    My father-in-laws exhibited this. Glad it was resolved though.

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 11 years ago

      Confirmed all fixed. 24-hours without really wasn’t much of a problem here. Certainly rather disappointing though.

    • alsoRun
    • 11 years ago

    My Zune has exactly the same problem. It does not boot and it does not shut down either.

    I bought Zune because of the FM radio and I do not like Apple’s too intrusive way of songs management.

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 11 years ago

    §[< http://forums.zune.net/0/1/408989/ShowPost.aspx#408989<]§ [quote][Update - 2:20pm PST] Hi guys, I just got an update from the team that I want to share with you. Great news! It looks like this issue will resolve itself over the next 24 hours. Please read the response below. Thank you all for your extreme patience with this! -Matt =-=-=-= Early this morning we were alerted by our customers that there was a widespread issue affecting our 2006 model Zune 30GB devices (a large number of which are still actively being used). The technical team jumped on the problem immediately and isolated the issue: a bug in the internal clock driver related to the way the device handles a leap year. The issue should be resolved over the next 24 hours as the time change moves to January 1, 2009. We expect the internal clock on the Zune 30GB devices will automatically reset tomorrow (noon, GMT). By tomorrow you should allow the battery to fully run out of power before the unit can restart successfully then simply ensure that your device is recharged, then turn it back on. If you’re a Zune Pass subscriber, you may need to sync your device with your PC to refresh the rights to the subscription content you have downloaded to your device. Customers can continue to stay informed via the support page on zune.net (zune.net/support). We know this has been a big inconvenience to our customers and we are sorry for that, and want to thank them for their patience. Q: Why is this issue isolated to the Zune 30 device? It is a bug in a driver for a part that is only used in the Zune 30 device. Q: What fixes or patches are you putting in place to resolve this situation? This situation should remedy itself over the next 24 hours as the time flips to January 1st. Q: What’s the timeline on a fix? The issue Zune 30GB customers are experiencing today will self resolve as time changes to January 1. Q: Why did this occur at precisely 12:01 a.m. on December 31, 2008? There is a bug in the internal clock driver causing the 30GB device to improperly handle the last day of a leap year. Q: What is Zune doing to fix this issue? The issue should resolve itself. Q: Are you sure that this won’t happen to all 80, 120 or other flash devices? This issue is related to a part that is only used in Zune 30 devices. Q: How many 30GB Zune devices are affected? How many Zune 30GB devices were sold? All 30GB devices are potentially affected. Q: Will you update the firmware before the next leap year (2012)? Yes. Matt Akers Zune Product Team[/quote]

      • kvndoom
      • 11 years ago

      l[

        • no51
        • 11 years ago

        Isn’t the world supposed to end in 2012?

          • Saribro
          • 11 years ago

          Depends on who coded the doomsday scenario, apparently :).

      • indeego
      • 11 years ago

      /[<"(a large number of which are still actively being used)"<]/ That sounds like they are surprised. I love itg{

    • no51
    • 11 years ago

    the Zune twitter gave an update:
    /[

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 11 years ago

    I’ve got a first gen iPod video from 3 years ago and the battery hasn’t even started to go yet. I use it a lot and am very surprised by how well it has held up.

    • Meadows
    • 11 years ago

    Since the issue will evaporate in a few hours, I suppose you’ll survive this terrible, ground-shaking problem.

    • HurgyMcGurgyGurg
    • 11 years ago

    Still kicking with 4 almost 5 year old 4 Gig iPod mini. I’m just waiting till you can get an iTouch with a 100 gigs so its worth it, or whatever rumor of the iPod 7-9 inch tablet thing comes true. Or whatever Zune is worth it in a year or two.

    It still works, but battery life is spastic, the battery indicator sometimes thinks it runs out of charge in 10 minutes or sometimes goes for hours. The thing just won’t die. (Yes I want it to die so I have a reason to upgrade)

      • Hdfisise
      • 11 years ago

      The battery indicators on every ipod i have seen all suck 😛

      Mine like drops down quickly then goes back up slowly so I just try and guess how much it has left now.

    • Corrado
    • 11 years ago

    I am one of the few I guess that actually LIKES the looks of the brown Zune.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      Yes, you are. 😆

      A black Zune would be OK by me. Wouldn’t work on my computer, but it wouldn’t look painfully hideous.

        • Corrado
        • 11 years ago

        I just paid a lot of money for a brown interior, to replace the black that I have, for the 80 VW Scirocco I’m restoring, so I guess I am a wierdo. 😛

          • MadManOriginal
          • 11 years ago

          To say that brown anything is bad is just silly especially since ‘brown’ can cover a wide range of colors.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 11 years ago

      I like–and /[

        • MadManOriginal
        • 11 years ago

        I like and respect that Geoff calls it poo-brown rather than get all fancy about it because he owns one.

      • Grigory
      • 11 years ago

      Nope, I like it, too. Black, white, silver is pretty played out.

    • Philldoe
    • 11 years ago

    You should go out and get an 80Gb Zune. They are quite a bit smaller that the 30. They look much better and the battery will last you, literally, 6 times longer.

    I accidentally broke my old 30 (busted the screen) and I had to go get a new player. I was happy with my 30g aside from battery life. but all of the reviewers stated the batery life had been improved so much more that they were now getting 25-30 hours of music play time.

    Needless to say it’s not a lie. Video only kicks in to 5-7 hours for me, but I love the fact that I can go about 2 weeks with out charging my Zune.

    • flip-mode
    • 11 years ago

    The headline and the “poo-brown” both made me laugh. Thanks Geoff. Keep em’ coming.

    • PRIME1
    • 11 years ago

    No blue screen? No red ring? Just a brick.

      • eitje
      • 11 years ago

      …it turned poo-brown?

        • Scrotos
        • 11 years ago

        What a pile of ****!

    • Thrillhouse425
    • 11 years ago

    My Zune 30 did the same thing this morning. Stuck with the radio in the car.

      • ludi
      • 11 years ago

      This is why both of my cars have aftermarket head units that can read MP3 CD-Rs 😉

    • Skrying
    • 11 years ago

    Besides this issue with the aged Zune 30 model. The Zune 80 and now 120 are light years ahead of the iPod hard drive based models. More features, solid subscription service, similar size (it baffles me that this was mentioned as if the new Zune models are still as big as the 30), and just as intuitive interface. Maybe if you’re really invested into iTunes I could see picking up the iPod over the Zune. Otherwise… unless you own a Mac I don’t see the point.

    • Thresher
    • 11 years ago

    It’s Jobs m4d h4x0r skillz.

    • Decelerate
    • 11 years ago

    HAHAHA, leap year issue, as if the concept was just invented.

    If it was a problem with daylight savings that has changed and whatnot, I’d understand, but leap years didn’t just appear out of nowhere.

    Someone should be fired indeed. It’s a bad economy and all, but damn that firmware coder!

    I bet we’ll hear about this at Macworld, if they’re covering -even briefly- one of the pod products (or shuffle)

      • indeego
      • 11 years ago

      No one person should be responsible for coding/reviewing /approving. This is a process mistake, and should impact someone higher up the chain that didn’t take date bounds checking into their basic testing routinesg{<.<}g

        • Decelerate
        • 11 years ago

        Agreed. I’m not saying that the grunt should be fired, but he coded the mistake.

        For all I know they used an intern to do the job. The higher-up the guy fired, the better.

        I’m hoping for Steve Ballmer…

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 11 years ago

      The current leading theory is that it’s a virus spread from Zune to Zune, however… /[

        • Dissonance
        • 11 years ago

        Since virtually no one actually has a Zune up here in Canada, I’ve had my “social” disabled since the beginning. My Zune has yet to interface with another, which makes the virus theory seem unlikely. Unless my Zune has been secretly promiscuous, that is.

        • Skrying
        • 11 years ago

        Really? I find that EXTREMELY hard to believe. In fact it makes basically no sense. So widespread when many people only use the WiFi for syncing? Really… no, not at all. It was a bug, they happen. Luckily what could have been a very serious bug will correct itself. that doesn’t sound very virus like.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      Aah leap year, that explains why it got borked on the 30th.

        • Saribro
        • 11 years ago

        If it tracks time in UTC, it may still have been the 30th for you, but no more for your Zune. (if I may guess)

    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 11 years ago

    There are other Zune colors, right? Can’t imagine actually buying a baby s**t brown MP3 player (or much of anything else for that matter).

    • alloyD
    • 11 years ago

    My family bought my dad a Sansa Fuze for his birthday. It’s pretty cool.

    • just brew it!
    • 11 years ago

    Maybe it was a secret market test of a new “subscription based music player” concept.

    • indeego
    • 11 years ago

    One day, this will happen to a Microsoft Operating system, and I won’t be able to tell you /[<"I Told You Sog{

      • moshpit
      • 11 years ago

      Already happened. Several times in fact…

    • eitje
    • 11 years ago

    The funniest part of the article is where the PriceGrabber focus item is the Sansa Clip. 🙂

      • indeego
      • 11 years ago

      The funniest part is that someone actually admits to buying these thingsg{<.<}g

        • Corrado
        • 11 years ago

        A Sansa Clip? I have one and love it. For the $25 it cost me its perfect. I only listen to audio books.

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 11 years ago

    What an ugly device.

    /hugs me iTouch/

      • potatochobit
      • 11 years ago

      It’s the new 8 track
      plug and play baby
      maybe if you hold down the play button a secret game of pong will start

    • MadManOriginal
    • 11 years ago

    Pretty poor oversight in the firmware, all the Zune forum psts indicate it died as of midnight 12AM PST, a bit oddly on Dec 30th not the 31st. I don’t expect them to program it for 50 years although it would be trivial but it ought to be fine with dates for at least 5-10 years. I wonder what the exact problem is though, if it’s something more complex than just date compatability.

    Too bad there’s so few choices in high capacity (HD-based) players.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    LMAO ! Microsoft just wasn’t prepared for y2k9 I guess?

    Someone on Redmond campus seriously dropped the ball on that one…

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 11 years ago

      ZOMG IT’S Y2K IN Y2K9 WE ALL GONNA DIE

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