Kinect + Zune = Frustration

I have used the Zune software over Xbox Live for quite some time now, but for some reason, I felt motivated to wipe the dust off of my Kinect and plug it in for a change. I decided to ditch my controller for an evening and use this $150 peripheral for a change so I could listen to some music while I worked on some school work. Before, I had to turn on my controller and physically select the next song (what a drag, I know). With the Kinect however, all I have to say is, “Xbox, Next” and the song will change. This was great because I didn’t have to look up from my work and often I didn’t even have to break my concentration or suffer through a bad song until I made it to a decent stopping place. In theory, this was a great idea, and it is. Being able to change songs with your Kinect works like a dream; however, doing anything else within the Zune software is a nightmare.

If you want to search for a song title or artist name, you go to the search feature and you are given a horizontal list of letters. You wave your hand until it is just over the letter, and then you move your hand up, which makes it feel like you are physically grabbing the letter and setting it on a ledge just above that. The problem is that putting your hand over the letter you want is like using an iPod classic with an extremely sensitive scroll wheel. You can get the letter to the left and to the right of the one that you actually want, but it is often a herculean feat to stay so still and be so accurate that it doesn’t move to the next letter once you do actually get the one you want. After spending two seconds trying to type one letter, you will be reaching for your controller in an instant.

So maybe you want to find an artist in the Rock genre that you know is pretty popular, so you know that you will only have to scroll through a few blocks of artists until you find the one you want. So when you reach the rock artist screen, it shows four tiles of the top four artists, and the see the next four you simply wipe your hand from right to left. This, for the most part works pretty easily, and you don’t have to be very accurate with finding the spot that allows the screen to shift to the next four artists. While this sounds great, its not at all. You can go back just as easily as you went forward so when you put your hand in position to go to the next four artists, you will almost always accidentally go back to the top four that you began with. So you will essentially just go back and fourth between the top 1-4 and the top 5-8 artists over and over again. You could be smart and just say the word “next” and go to the next one, but if your Kinect is sitting on top of your TV and you are already listening to music, good luck because it won’t be able to pick up your voice through the sound.

The interface that the Zune gives is not anything extraordinary, and the wiping and picking have been done before on other applications and games, and they have been done well. It seems a bit rediculous that so little attention has been paid to this application.

Have you tried using your Kinect with the Zune software? I’d like to know your experiences and if you agree or disagree with me. Let us know with a comment below!