I was a bit surprised to be contacted by Matchstick, a Canadian "word of mouth marketing" company, yesterday. I figured after some of their missteps a couple of years ago, they might have gone out of business—but instead it seems like they might have learned a thing or two and survived.
They've been contracted by Microsoft to find bloggers and other types like me to evaluate the Zune media player, software, and online marketplace, which has finally become available in Canada after its U.S. release almost two years ago. I (and Chris Pirillo) had a chance to play with the first-generation Zune—yes, the brown one—briefly in Seattle before that original release, and I was impressed with the hardware and user interface. At a recent trip to Best Buy, I also liked the fun but very un-iPod-like approach to the Zune onscreen user experience, despite the extremely iPod-like form factor of the device itself.
But I haven't had a chance to work with the Zune software at all, and reviews of that over time have been mixed. Matchstick will be sending me a black Zune 8 to try out, so I'll find out for myself. But I'll either have to borrow a Windows PC from someone, or install Windows on my MacBook, to get it to work—there's no Mac support, alas.
But with luck I'll be able to find out whether our Zune subscription links at Inside Home Recording actually work. The little Zune should arrive next week sometime. Maybe I can photograph it with the new/old camera.