The Belkin TunePower for Zune Review

So far I have been averaging about 11 hours of battery life from my Zune; and while that’s decent, it doesn’t inspire confidence for those long stretches of time when tunes are desired but there is no ready power source available. Well, Belkin has a solution, and it’s called TunePower.

According to Belkin, “TunePower keeps the music playing even when your Zune player?s internal battery is drained. It offers a great solution for long flights, train rides, hikes–any time you want to extend your music and video playtime. A foldout kickstand positions the Zune at the perfect viewing angle, and we include an AC wall charger that works for both your Zune and the TunePower simultaneously. The rechargeable battery is cheaper to maintain and is better for the environment. TunePower also features a protective-case design to prevent damage to the connector from dirt, dust, or impact.”

As with many extended batteries, the TunePower will add considerable bulk to the device it is powering. Is the added size a viable trade-off for extra hours? Let’s take a look and see…

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Since the Zune has a non-user replaceable battery, it’s not as if you could open the back, slide in the larger battery version, and then slap a humped cover over the whole kit and caboodle. Instead, you have to use a battery sled, which at first glance seems reminiscent of the sleeves we used to use to add an extended battery or card reader to our Compaq iPAQs back in the day…except those were easier to put on and slide off. 😉

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The TunePower measures 5″ at it’s longest point x 2.75″ wide x about 1.5″ thick, and on its own it weighs a fairly chunky 4 ounces. Add this to the 5.7 ounces a Zune already weighs…and you have a small brick.

Don’t freak out just yet, perhaps it’s worth it. Let’s keep going…

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The holster of the TunePower is composed of a tight fitting, matte black rubber gasket which surrounds the Zune’s outer edges. A glossy black plastic shell covers the extended battery, and it is ringed by a matte silver border, which flips open…

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…to form a kickstand for movie viewing…

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…as well as to reveal the charging port for the included AC adapter. It takes approximately five hours to charge the TunePower, and both Zune and battery pack can be charged simultaneously.

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The strap on the end is the power plug going from the battery pack to the Zune’s sync & charge port. The rubber holster is quite stiff, but it will stretch enough to allow insertion of the Zune. Removing the Zune is a matter of unhooking the power plug and then grasping it firmly and pulling it out and from the tight holster.

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The holster has perfectly positioned cutouts for the earphone jack, the hold button, and the bottom sync & charge port…

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the empty TunePower

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the TunePower’s cutouts are perfectly placed for the Zune’s controls

The plug in the bottom hole should be removed before the Zune is inserted, and after insertion it can be plugged into the sync & charge port.

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There is a single LED on the bottom of the battery pack that will glow orange when the TunePower is charging; it will turn off when fully charged, and when plugged into?a switched on?Zune it will flash green. This LED also functions as a battery status indicator button: when pressed it will display its status. A green LED indicates that it is over 80% charged, amber indicates between 20 – 80%, and red indicates less than 20%.

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The LED light/button also turns the Tune Power on or off when it is attached to a Zune. Pressing it when it’s on will make the LED turn red, indicating that it is turning off. Pressing?the button when the battery pack is off will turn it?on, causing the LED to flash green, and then flash green every six seconds to indicate that it is running.

When the Zune is in the TunePower, it won’t fit inside any case, but the addition of a screen protector – such as the Belkin ClearScreen Overlay mine is wearing – will help protect the large screen from any scratches.

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According to the specs on the Belkin website, the TunePower extends the battery life of the Zune by 6 to 12 hours. If the average life of the Zune while listening to music with the wireless turned off is in the neighborhood of 11 – 12 hours, then it is effectively doubled. Watching videos cuts the Zune’s battery life to around five hours on its own, so once again – the addition of the TunePower will double the expected battery life.

Obviously the TunePower may not be something that you would want to keep on your Zune all of the time, because it does add considerable weight and bulk. But for those times when a chance to charge is hard to come by, having the TunePower may be the difference between enjoying twice as much content…or enjoying the silence.

The Belkin TunePower for Zune is available directly from the manufacturer, as well as other retailers.
MSRP: $59.99
What I Like: Doubles the life of the Zune whether watching movies or listening to music, built-in kickstand for watching videos, can simultaneously charge Zune and extended battery at same time with same charger
What Needs Improvement: Does add quite a bit of bulk and weight to the already larger sized Zune; it’s a trade-off


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