Wait, It Doesn’t Cost Extra?

As an impulse buy, I picked up the dock for my Zune 80.

Imagine my surprise to find more than I expect to in the box.

I was torn between getting just an AC adapter, the Dock Kit (which is the dock and AC adapter) and the Home Kit (which is dock, AC, remote, and video cable)… I figured the Dock Kit was the middle ground. I do want an AC adapter, but that comes with all three pieces… in fact, I’m pretty sure my ever growing collection of unused iPod adapters might charge the Zune… same voltage, same USB plug… hm. Even so, I didn’t want to chance it, and docking bases are always a good idea.

When considering the Home Kit, I didn’t think video would be a huge issue… I mean, sure if I took the Zune with me I’d need a cable, but at home, I didn’t want to spend the extra cash for another cable – after all anything I put on the Zune will be on my home PC, which means the 360 will have access to it already, for viewing in my living room. And the remote is a neat idea, but I don’t need it: I use a Harmony 880 remote which controls… well, everything. It controls the 360, the Mac mini’s Front Row, the iPod via their Universal Dock, the soon-to-be-bought TiVo HD… everything but my ceiling fan. The Zune via the Zune Dock would be no problem.

After I opened the box, I realized that I felt something I didn’t expect to feel… that post-Apple-purchase I-did-something-good feeling. Apple has it down a science – I’m convinced it’s why all Apple stores smell the same… something in the air makes you want to buy stuff and feel good about it. Imagine my surprise to feel it over an accessory that has nothing to do with an Apple purchase… except knowing that it competes with and Apple product. I took the Dock out and found that it supports the Zune 30, 80, 4 and 8 – it includes different dock inserts that align the device with the dock. Nothing new there. What was interesting is how the dock plug itself is designed to slide across the Dock making sure the device is always centered. Small thing, but neat and ascetically pleasing. A term that I had never used for a non-Apple PMP product before.

What I thought was really nice, though, was what I found when I popped off the back cover: component out plugs. That’s right: component out. Not composite or SVideo – the good stuff, built in. You don’t have to go get a special cable to get good support for TV out if you have the Dock… just grab a set of component cables [that you probably already have] and have at it. Also, the device does support 640×480 MP4 files which means that you’ll get near DVD quality playback too… all with having to go get an extra set of cables.

Maybe it’s just me, but it’s nice to not be nickel-and-dime’d for stuff that either should be much cheaper or support the equipment I already own… maybe I’m still bitter that I had to shell out an extra $50 just to get FM-support on my old iPod. And that I was expected to drop another $50 for component out support… which feels even worse when you hear the entire iPod product line doesn’t support it [a reason I went iPod nano over the summer is because the iPod touch didn’t support the FM wire or TV out, at the time] – just seems silly, to me.

Or maybe this generation of Zune is just that much better.

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