Zune HD AV Dock Reviews

15 Dec 2009

Well I just learned something new, in my impulse to get a Zune HD dock, I chose this one, but after reading the review here and researching it, well, I would’ve saved the $40 by only getting the USB Sync Dock. The USB Sync Dock has the same remote, HD radio antenna, and USB cable - which is basically all that you need.

For the record, I will state the old Zune a/v dock (Zune 30, 4, 8, 80, 120gb) still works with the new Zune HD - just no HD output and NO FM antenna and it won’t auto go to TV-Output - this means you’ll have to manually set this everytime, if you have an LCD in your car and want to output the awesome Zune UI to your LCD.

I will also state the old Zune remote works with the new Zune HD A/v dock, even though it has 4 less ‘buttons’ - you can still do everything you need on the Zune HD. Also the NEW Zune HD remote (even though the old model remote works) is phenomenal with it’s range. The old remote you had to point directly at the docking station. The NEW Zune HD remote, I can turn the docking station around and put the remote in the opposite direction and it still works. I tried this with the Zune HD dock in my glove compartment and no, it didn’t work with it closed (just in case it was RF and not IR). But it did work with the glove box open. I can locate my Zune HD almost anywhere and the powerful new remote still works great.

One major design flaw of the old Zune a/v dock is that it didn’t have an FM Antenna if you used the a/v output composite cable. Improved in the Zune HD a/v dock is the inclusion of an FM antenna for picking up HD (and regular) stations. Once you listen to the free HD radio stations, you’ll never want to go back! Most stations in my city (Dallas, TX) have at least 2 HD stations (with different music) for the same frequency - HD radio rocks!

But the NUMBER ONE REASON to buy the USB Sync or HD A/V dock is the fact that TV-OUTPUT IS FIXED ! This means if you have an LCD screen in your car that accepts an AUX input (like my Alpine or friends’ Pioneer, etc) then whenever you turn the car on, it will auto-display on your LCD. I can’t tell you just how slick the UI on your LCD screen is. From the screensaver with the scrolling artist, song, and album art to the HD radio (now I have HD radio in my car), it looks like a high-end professional car system. What is also fixed is that if you terminate the USB power (turning the car off, assuming your cigarette lighter plug does not stay powered) it will auto-pause your Zune HD. If you start your car, it detects USB power, then remembers it was on TV-OUTPUT and auto does TV-OUTPUT after you start the car. You do need to press PLAY on the remote, but it starts exactly where it left off. I’m not sure when but the Zune HD goes to standby mode at some point when it is paused for a long time because I’ve left the Zune HD in the car for more than the 33 hours of the battery life and it is always fully charged even though my cigarette lighter power turns off.

Again, the NEW remote is amazingly more powerful than the old remote, so now I have a complete and very slick car setup.

The only bad thing is that when docked, well, there’s truly no way to get to the clock - the Alpine clock is shown on my Alpine LCD and is the only clock in my car, but when it is displaying the AUX input, you only see the Zune screens and nope, no more clock on any of the screens except on the screen lock.

I downloaded an HD movie from the Marketplace and watched it on my 61″ HDTV and wow, it looked just as good as BluRay DVDs.

DO REMEMBER, if you use composite video in your car and HDMI on your TV, you MUST turn the Zune off at least once when switching video-output-type, else it won’t automatically go to tv-output mode and you’ll have to manually go into Settings. For me, this is few and far between, so I’m not bothered by this - but there’s no documentation to tell you to do that. But this does mean, you could permanently leave a Zune HD in a car and always have it output to your LCD screen. Also, with the WIFI, you could always sync with your PC when you park your car in the garage.

Zune HD dock on standby lasts at least 72 something hours, though I need to test the max. I’ve only turned it completely off a couple of times while testing.

If this was the USB Sync Dock ($40 cheaper) that I had purchased I would give this 5 big stars, but since I’ve already purchased this and don’t truly need the power adapter and HDMI cable and composite cable, then I have to right this a 4 on overall value — I should’ve gotten only the USB sync dock.

TAGS Zune HD microsoft zune hd



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