Microsoft Zune HD 32GB Portable Media Player Review
23 June 2010
Conclusion: The Zune interface both at the keys and on the go is kind of, y'know, pretty (there, I said it), so while I did have to really search (and wait) for what I wanted at times, the lively Zune experience might indeed have an edge over the plainer, more static iTunes in terms of sheer fun. And with HD Radio, OLED and 720p in my pocket, the Zune HD player definitely has an edge over every other portable in terms of its high-end feature set.
Pros: Cross-platform "ecosystem" combines 1080p at home and 720p-to-go, Built-in HD Radio/FM tuner, Wi-Fi, with downloading directly to the device, plus social connectivity
Cons: Does not support Windows Media Video Digital Copy, Zune software could be more intuitive, less sluggish
Conclusion: With a fantastic OLED touch screen, a top-notch Web browser, and a wireless music store, the Zune HD is the best PMP you can buy—that is, if you live outside the iTunes universe.
Pros: Gorgeous multi-touch OLED screen. Intuitive user interface with sharp, good-looking graphics. Strong Web browser. Wireless music purchasing, downloading, and syncing. HD radio.
Cons: Limited audio codec support. HD files are displayed in standard-def on the player—an optional dock is needed to view HD files on an HDTV or a PC. Very slim pickings in the App section of the Zune Marketplace.
Summary: The Zune HD delivers one of the best portable music and video experiences money can buy. At a time when many people have shifted their focus to games and applications, providing a killer media experience may not be enough for potential Zune buyers.
Pros: The Zune HD's brilliant OLED display, HD Radio tuner, long battery life, movie rentals, and subscription music integration finally give iPod expatriates something to shout about.
Cons: You still can't use the Zune with a Mac, Marketplace purchases require "Microsoft Points," video format support is limited, audio quality lacks advanced controls, you'll need to purchase a dock accessory for HD video output, application and game selection stinks, and the recommended music subscription plan puts the real-world cost higher than the iPod.
Excerpt: After getting my Zune HD I was surprised that it was actually smaller than expected. It was only inches bigger than the iPod Nano (1st gen). The Zune HD is solidly built device. The screen is slightly smaller than the iPod Touch and was prone to smudges. Overall, this is looking different (in every way) from the Zune 30 that I originally own… Read the full review (with photos) after the jump or watch the unboxing here.
Summary: Comparing the Zune HD to Apple's iPod line is only natural, but I don't believe Microsoft is positioning its player as an "iPod killer." At this point, I think Microsoft (along with other vendors) knows better than that, and the term is trite. While the Marketplace has a few apps, Microsoft isn't focusing heavily on them. The Zune HD is ideal for people who want to use their device strictly for high quality video and audio, and who don't want extra clutter.
Conclusion: The Zune HD is not too friendly with a bring-your-own-content scenario with limited audio and video codec support. It really hurts to see the most powerful mobile processor, the NVidia Tegra, being underutilized in a device without native video support. The walled garden ecosystem approach will not bode well with some being that you must use the supplied software and are encouraged to purchase content from the Zune Marketplace.
Pros: Clean and easy user interface, Great looking OLED screen, Very responsive capacitance touch screen, Great sound quality, Solid design and build quality
Cons: Limited codec support, Many of the features rely on the subscribing to the Zune Pass, Microsoft funny money points required to purchase content, No custom EQ, presets only, No drag and drop support
Excerpt: If you were to ask someone to describe an MP3/Video player they would probably begin to describe to you your average iPod. If you went a little further you would probably find them talking about the iPhone or the iPod Touch.
Summary: The Zune HD is an interesting device and is most easily compared to the iPod touch. It is because of this comparison that some will deem it a failure, while others will praise its added features. With smartphones becoming more sophisticated and encroaching on the PMP's traditional turf, the Zune HD is not for everyone. Most people do not need a separate device to play music or watch video, and I am actually in that group.
Excerpt: The zune is not the ultimate media package but as far as music and video playback is concerned it works in the finest manner. The main menu consists of options such as music, videos, pictures, radio, Marketplace and Internet. When there is enough content , then other features like the podcasts, audio books, and applications are given main page status.
Excerpt: Thumbs up: Neat design; attractive OLED display; good battery life; HD radio; movie rentals; subscription music integration. Thumbs Down: No MAC compatibility; limited video format support; audio lacks controls; separate dock accessory is necessary for HD video output, the subscription music plan works out more expensive than the ipod.