Serious updates for the device aren’t, I believe, imminent - but tight integration with the Xbox 360, Live Arcade, Live Anywhere, and the Video Marketplace are probably the big priorities internally. My own fantasies for the device entail the ability to share songs between equipment online, probably via the existing Gamertag that is already tied into your Zune account. These fantasies also involve built-in support for "podcasts," which are these crazy audio files people are putting on the web!
Independent of its potential as a "platform," it’s a very capable personal player that doesn’t really feel like a Microsoft product. I wonder if they would take that statement as a compliment or not.
Most of my observations are the sort of thing anyone with a substantial portable player already knows, and they aren’t unique to the Zune. Access to that much audio without being tethered to a computing mothership is decadent. It’s decadent like eating gold. Seriously, like if you ate some gold and weren’t even that hungry to begin with - just hunched over a yawning treasure chest, chowing on doubloons for no reason.
Putting on headphones in public, in essence denying the world, is probably more thrilling than the act itself would suggest. The kind of social force-field it generates is something I’ve needed to blunt the outside world for quite some time - and the ability to institute a directorial vision, even while in a grocery store, can’t be overstated. I challenge you to listen to Kate Havnevik in some crowded place and not find yourself miraculously transformed into the protagonist of a spontaneous film.
I’m going to try to go to CES for a couple days next week, I’ve never been, and if there’s a place in this world where I could make use of the Zune’s higher brain functions, it’s there. This is assuming that I actually arrive at CES, having wound my way between the intervening craps tables, managing to somehow thwart their terrible gravity.