Amazon has always been a good point of reference for anyone looking for buying advice.

Sure, reading professional reviews is always a great indicator, but the ability to see what other consumers have to say about their purchases is one of the factors that have made Amazon's user reviews so successful.

It's good for consumers because they can make sure they don't buy rubbish products. And it's great for manufacturers because if they build brilliant products, they'll get the deserved credit and shift more units.

For the newly-launched Microsoft Zune, things aren't turning out so well. Out of 142 customer reviews when we looked at the site , the product only manages an average score of three stars out of five.

Compare that with the near-perfect four and a half out of five scores earned by the 30GB 5.5Gen iPod and the Creative Vision:m .

Poor sales rank

Sales are also very poor. While MP3 players from Apple, Creative and SanDisk litter the Amazon.com top 20 products, the Microsoft Zune currently languishes in 66th place.

Yesterday it dipped as low as 96th, only a few sales away from falling out of the top 100 altogether.

The Zune page on Amazon is full of reviews from customers who feel desperately disappointed and let down by their purchase.

"I got my Zune two days ago and exchanged it for a black 5.5 gen iPod today," said M Sullivan from Richmond, USA.

"It took me 2 hours to get the Zune to sync with my computer, and an additional hour to load songs onto it. I'm still dumbfounded that someone who's been making software for so long could produce something this bad," said C Cumming from New York City.

There are at least some positive reviews in there, and it's important to remember that there will be plenty of 'reviews' in there by anti-Microsoft teenagers who don't even own a Zune. But this is the same with all products, and all we're left with is the reality that the Microsoft Zune could well be the flop of the year. James Rivington