Hey ktreb: Thanks for taking the time to write a thoughtful response! I appreciate the time.
Well, it's been 22 hours since I got the ZUNE gift. I couldn't download a thing yesterday and stayed up til 2:00 am trying. The Support for ZUNE doesn't wake up until 6:00 am PST, so at 8:00 am, I gave them a call. My service tech was named Rebecca, and two hours and 18 minutes later, EVERY SINGLE ISSUE THAT I HAD HAD WITH ZUNE IS GONE!!! In fact, if I had a chance to now get an ipod, I wouldn't take it, but would cling greedily to my ZUNE!
First, Rebecca discovered that I needed to update both my Windows Media Player and Flash Player. After those were installed and the computer restarted twice, she then had me update the 3rd latest version of ZUNE. Her patience was beyond extraordinary and while we were waiting for pages to download or the computer to come back online, I'd ask her all of the questions that I had. For instance, if I had typed in "Harry Potter", ZUNE didn't recognize it; but, if I typed in "John Williams", it brought me to all of the 80+ albums he's scored.
I also had had issue with their lack of musical genres. Seems like ZUNE lumps most everything into "MORE", which is where Eno, Frip, Piazolla, etc are dumped. So, all of my beloved music which is on album, tapes, and CD's was located, just in spots that for the moment don't make the most logical sense for a search engine. But, once you get into an area, a box will pop up linking you to similar artists, which is how I've found everyone.
But, the BIGGEST thing that has now sold me on the ZUNE was the exact thing that I hated about ipod: for a flat fee of the ZUNE PASS ($9.95) you have access to 100% of their music!!!! People: I spend upwards of $8-$10 per day on Starbucks...I think that I can financially swing spending ten bucks for millions of songs! There is NO LIMIT to how much you can download...none.
Realistically, this solves so many problems for me. I had quite literally run out of space in my home to add any more CD's so for the past 5 years, I bought no new music. I finally boxed up 100's of CD's to create more room, but you know what that means: once they're boxed up, you never play them again.
Then there's the issue of my traveling for my job. With CD's, I'd have to lug them around, I'd leave them at one residence of mine and wish I had them at the other. This way, I've already downloaded 131 albums of mine onto my ZUNE, so no more lost CD's.
Lastly, and most importantly, is the cost factor. Last month alone, I spent over $100 on new Shirley Bassey and Eartha Kitt CD's. Every single one of them is on ZUNE. So, for basically, $120.00 per year, (or just $20 bucks more than I just spent), I can have 1000's of my albums stored on ZUNE. That's a win/win decision on my part.
My best friend who owns an ipod, to date has spent over $750.00 on itunes cards in less than one year. This does not include their own CD's that they ripped to their ipod. There is NO way that I'll spend that kind of money for something that I can't hold in my hand. Plus, her itunes clogs up her computer drive and the ZUNES stores all my albums on their site, freeing up my computer.
I know that it's been less than 24 hours since I wrote my first plea for help, but after talkig to Rebecca for over 2 hours, she walked me through every question and issue that I had had. And in regards to the lack of stuff to buy for it, she said, "ipod is 5 years old. We're currently working on deals with several firms for product tie-in so we will be increasing our music and accessories monthly. That's good enough for me!
So, I figure that since I no longer buy DVD's to clog up my space but go to Netflix and am happy with that decision, I'll "rent" the music from ZUNE and have virtually 100% of my 1000+ CD collection in the palm of my hand.
Thanks to everyone who wrote in response to my question! This site is so helpful.