DIY Repair for your Aging Zune

The web site, www.rapidrepair.com has some good prices for parts for a broken Zune. For example, a new glass front screen for a Zune 4/8/80 GB device is $19.99 US, and new battery is also $19.99 US. Very reasonable, in my opinion. They also will sell you the necessary tools for conducting surgery on your beloved Zune, as well as an instruction guide. So far, my Zune is still in pristine condition (knock on wood), but I can see possibly cracking my glass screen or needing a new battery sometime in the distant future. So if you’re a Do-it-yourself kind of person, rapidrepair.com might be your savior for keeping your trusty Zune up and running! :)

My faithful Zune 80 almost 1 year old!

I got my Zune 80 last December as a Christmas present, and I use it almost every night watching TV shows that I’ve recorded the previous day. So I use it for between 1-2 hours per day, and it seems to be holding up well. After having to return my Zune when the screen wouldn’t light up (after owning it about 4 weeks), everything has been smooth sailing (knock on wood!).

I suspect that at some point the battery will have a hard time holding a charge, in which case I’ll try to replace it myself with a 3rd-party battery available from the net. Hopefully, that won’t happen for another year.

I wonder if Microsoft is going to come out with any new models for Christmas?

Repairing your Broken Zune

Back in April 2008 I made a posting that talked about repairing your broken Zune after the original warranty expires. If you’re a DIY (do-it-yourself) kind of person, there wasn’t much available in parts for the newer Zune 4/8/80 GB models. Fortunately, there seems to be more available now with regards to such parts. The site called www.zuneparts.com has Zune 80 parts such as a replacement battery, LCD screen, screen cover, etc. available for you DIYers. They are somewhat pricey, but it may be a good alternative to buying a whole new Zune. The RapidRepair site also provides Zune 80 parts and has several guides to opening and repairing your Zune. If you’re not the DIY type, you can always send your Zune to RapidRepair and they will fix it for you (for a fee).

Since Lithium-Ion batteries don’t last forever, I can see myself replacing my Zune 80 battery in about a year or two. In that case, it might be worth the price of a battery to fix my Zune rather than buying a whole new device.

Budget Computer Upgrades

I’ve noticed that most pre-teens have desktop computers that were old hand-me-downs from their parents or relatives. Usually someone in a person’s extended family likes to upgrade their computer every year or two, so there’s always an older computer available for someone’s kid. In my case, I usually give my older computer to my father-in-law who welcomes something that’s a bit faster than what he currently has.

Recently, my niece has been trying to install her Webkinz and Barbie software on her ancient Windows 2000 OS machine without any luck. It seems that most software these days require at least Windows XP, so her computer is getting really too old. She also has trouble browsing certain web site that require special Flash plugins, and the older hardware (slow disk drive, minimal memory, etc.) isn’t helping much. Unfortunately, her parents can’t afford to buy or upgrade her computer, so my wife and I decided to help out. Continue reading

My Zune is back from the Repair Center!

After waiting 18 days, my Zune 80 has finally returned from the Repair Center in Texas. It arrived via FedEx Ground in the same small cardboard box that I was given for the return. Inside, was a well-protected Zune surrounded by fitted foam and a small brown Zune pouch. Also included was a form letter indicating that the repair center replace my unit (instead of fixing it). I’ve scanned this letter and have made it available below:

The replacement Zune looked in pristine condition (just like my original Zune that I sent in), and I verified that it was a different unit by the serial number on the back. So, I couldn’t tell if it was a brand new unit or a refurbished one.

In any case, I began the procedure of upgrading to the latest OS version, followed by removing all the pre-installed audio, video, and podcast files. The next step, was to sync my picture, audio, video, and podcast files to my new Zune (which took all day). As it turned out, my video sync folder had been accumulating new video files from the 18 days of TV show recordings, so I needed to pare it down to fit on my 80 GB Zune.

So far, everything seems to be working ok. I have to admit, it took me about 5 minutes to relearn how all the menus worked on the Zune (I guess I’m getting old), but I seem to be back in business. It sure is nice to have my Zune back, and hopefully I won’t need to send it in for repairs soon!

Because of this experience, it really makes me wonder how fragile the Zune 80 is. Would I have purchased a Zune 80 if I knew it would be prone to failure so easily? Probably not. But then again, where could you buy a large screen video player device with 80 GB of storage space for the price of the Zune 80?

Replacement Zune is on it’s way…

I just checked the service.zune.net web page and found that my replacement Zune is on it’s way back, due to arrive via ground FedEx on next Friday. So, here’s the timline for my warranty repair of my Zune:

  1. Called Zune.net and opened a repair ticket. Received a FedEx box for returning my Zune (6 days).
  2. Overnight delivery of Zune to Repair Center (1 Day).
  3. Repair center repairs my Zune (6 days).
  4. Zune is sent ground FedEx from Texas to Seattle (5 days (estimate)).

So it seems that from the day I called the repair center to when I got my fixed Zune would be 18 days. What I don’t understand, is that they send a return box that has overnight delivery, but they ship the repaired Zune via ground which takes 5 days.

In any case, I’m crossing my fingers that my replacement unit doesn’t have the typical issues that plagued other Zune users (e.g., dust and fingerprints under the screen, low battery life, constant rebooting, scratches and damage, etc.).

How to Repair Your Zune After the Warranty Expires…

Although my Zune 80 is only 3 months old and currently at the Zune Repair Center, I began to wonder what options do I have once the 1-year warranty expires? So I casually started to look around to see what was available.

The first option, would be to do my own repairs, provided I could find the necessary parts. After a bit of searching, I came across the web site called ZuneParts.net which sold some parts for the Zune at a reasonable cost. For example, the hold switch on a Zune 30 was being sold for $2.99 US, and a Zune battery was priced at $9.99 US. In addition, some of the parts have optional installation charges so it appears that ZuneParts.net will also install purchased parts. So for an additional $5.99 US ZuneParts will install a Zune battery in your device.

One particular part that would probably break a lot is the LCD screen, which ZuneParts sells for $55.99 US and charges $10.00 US for installation. Now, most of the parts listed at the ZuneParts.net web site appear to be for the Zune 30, but the LCD screen might also work in a Zune 80. ZuneParts also sells cables, cases, hard drives, and other internal parts that may be of interest.

Another site that I frequently read about in Zune forum postings, is RapidRepair.com which offers several Zune internal parts and installation. They offer hard drives, batteries, and other internal components for the Zune 30 (they don’t appear to sell parts for the 2nd generation Zunes). I would definitely contact this company if my Zune was damaged after the product warranty expires. What’s interesting, is their forum where people post questions regarding Zune repairs. For example, it seems that the Zune 30 and Zune 80 use different batteries, so you can’t buy a Zune 30 battery and install it in a Zune 80.

Also, RapidRepair.com has a web page that shows how to disassemble a Zune 30 or Zune 80, which might come in handy if you need to take apart your Zune and you don’t want to damage it. They also offer a free diagnostic inspection (if you send them your Zune) to determine what is causing the problem.

So, these are a couple of different options for Zune repair that you might explore. Both offer parts for the Zune 30, and RapidRepair.com seems to fix Zune 80s if you call or email them first.

Note, that I’ve never purchased a part or had repair work done by either of these companies, so I can’t confirm their quality or responsiveness. I suggest you search for “rapid repair” or “zuneparts” on some of the Zune forums (e.g., http://www.zunescene.com or http://www.zune.net) to get more information on other user’s experiences.

FedEx Box Finally Arrives

Well, the FedEx box for my Zune’s journey to the repair center has arrived. It’s a small white box with foam padding on the inside, with a cutout that fits my Zune 80 perfectly (this box is often referred to as a “Zune Coffin” by some). It comes complete with a return shipping label (to be shipped to “REPAIR CENTER-Z” in Mcallen, Texas) so all I need to do is put in my broken Zune, slap on the sticker and head to the nearest FedEx office for shipping it out.

One thing that the instructions did state, was that I needed to also send a copy of the bill-of-sale for my Zune if it was a warranty repair (which it is). Since this was a Christmas gift from my wife, I needed to scramble to find one that I could print out. If you made your purchase from BestBuy.com, you can go to the “Order Status” link on the http://www.bestbuy.com web site and print out a receipt for any online order (whew!). So, my hurt Zune is off to the repair center, hopefully to return within the next week or so.

In case you’re curious, below is the Zune Return Instructions that I received in the FedEx box:

zune_repair_box.jpg

Update (3 Apr 08): My Zune arrived overnight to the FedEx sorting facility in TX and should be at the repair center by 3 pm today. Then the clocks starts to how fast they can send me a replacement unit. I’ll keep everyone posted so you have a future reference in case you need to send in your device for repair.

Update (4 Apr 08): The Zune.net web site shows “Device Received at Service Center” as the status for my Zune repair. Note, that I never received any emails from the repair facility concerning my Zune device repair (even though they told me over the phone that I would receive a series of emails confirming the repair order).

It Finally Happened: My Zune Stopped Working!

At exactly 3 months of ownership, my Zune 80 stopped working.

So how did it happen? I was syncing my Zune to my PC this morning and noticed that the Zune Software on my PC displayed an error message. I pulled the Zune from the cradle to take a look at it, and the screen was black. I looked closer, and noticed that the screen was very dimly lit (and nothing was displayed). So, I tried everything I could think of including:

  • Doing a reset
  • Erasing all content button sequence
  • Erasing all content and firmware button sequence
  • Full charge from wall outlet charger

What’s strange, is that I can hear the scrolling sound effects as I scroll using the center pad, and I could blindly play music on my device. The only issue is that the screen was blank. At times the display did show a brief pixelly screen when I blindly pressed the center pad button (maybe when it was trying to display something on the screen), but nothing I tried fixed the blank screen problem.

So, I called the 1-877-GET-ZUNE support line help. I’ve never had to call this support line before, but I have read several postings on forums that describe wild horror stories (e.g., having to talk to people in India with thick accents, or talking with a support person that has no clue what a Zune really is). Fortunately, the person I spoke with (Michael) was able to understand the issue I was having and proceeded to set up a repair order for my Zune. The steps for sending my Zune in for repair (under warranty) are as follows:

  1. Microsoft sends me an empty box via FedEx in 3-5 business days
  2. I put my Zune in the box and ship it to their repair facility (in Texas?)
  3. After about 10-15 business days, I should get my Zune back via FedEx

Michael did ask me if I had damaged my Zune (e.g., dropped it, spilled liquid on it, have a cracked screen, etc.) and noted that if it did have damage they would not repair it and would simply send it back at my cost. Since my Zune is in pristine condition, this wouldn’t be an issue for me. Also, Michael stated that depending on how busy the repair shop is, it might actually take longer than 15 business day to repair my device. In addition, I might get a refurbished unit as a replacement if that was deemed more appropriate. Since I’ve taken such good care of my Zune, I hope they can repair it, as I’d rather have the same unit back than get a refurbished unit that could have other problems.

So here I wait for the FedEx box to take my baby away. It will be tough not having my Zune for a while, and I’ll let everyone know how the process continues…

In case you’re interested, here are a few links to some Zune repair horror stories:

Just how long does it take for the repair center to return your item?

The Twilight Zune, or the ongoing Saga of Zune repair and (non) customer service