Summary: Let’s just admit it: For a long time it was embarrassing to be a Microsoft Zune owner. While all of your buddies where showing off their flashy iPod touches and iPhones that they could control at the swipe of a finger, you were covertly lugging around the MP3 player equivalent to a brick.
Excerpt: Microsoft’s fabled Zune line has done a lot of growing up over the years. From the first-gen 30GB player that we scorned back in 2006 to the 8GB model we warmed up to in 2007 , Microsoft has continually been fine tuning its line of media players to deal with the crush of criticism they’ve met on the open market. That refinement reaches its pinnacle with the 80GB and 120GB players, which are both the largest and most capable Microsoft has ever produced.
Pros: Capacity; screen size; tight software integration; interface; built in FM radio, Wi-Fi
Cons: Still not as polished as an iPod; requires monthly fee to make the most of its features
Summary: The new Zune can’t beat the iPod classic’s battery life or game support, but it does have a better screen, useful music-discovery features, and wireless. Ultimately, the 120GB Microsoft Zune is an excellent iPod classic alternative and gives you significantly more features for the same price. Additionally, Wayport will offer Zune users free Wi-Fi at around 9,800 McDonald’s locations, much like Apple’s deal with Starbucks.
Pros: Wireless sync sharing and purchase, Excellent music discovery features, Attractive interface, Vivid screen,
Cons: Mediocre battery life, Dumb points-based payment system for la carte downloads, Video content selection still lags behind iTunes,
Summary: The Zune is Microsoft ’s attempt to compete with Apple ’s iPod , and it’s now closer than it has ever been to its competitor. The second generation is sleeker and comes in a variety of different colors: pink, red, black, and Green. The leader of the pack is the 80GB with a 3.2-inch LCD, but all Zunes feature the touch-sensitive pad for easy navigation.
Excerpt: We’ve already been told that it’s coming “Zune” to Canada , but how does Microsoft’s sophomore entry into the MP3 player market compare against the iPods of the world? I had the chance to take the larger Zune 80GB out for a test drive and I have to admit that they have made some serious improvements over the first-generation Microsoft …
Summary: The Zune 8GB sounds every bit as good as the first Zune, and Microsoft has added support for tracks encoded in WMA Lossless. The 1.8-inch glass screen looks very sharp, but it’s also very small—especially when you’re watching videos—and the flash player can’t be connected to your TV (both new and previous hard-drive models do support this feature).
Conclusion: Still the best hard drive-based portable media player on the market—the feature-barren iPod classic can't compete with the Zune's top-notch navigation and added wireless abilities.
Pros: Wirelessly syncs to your PC. You can buy music wirelessly and purchase tunes you hear on the radio. Increased capacity. Large display. Touchpad is still excellent. User interface is good-looking and easy to navigate.
Cons: Too many steps required to play a song. Requires a $14.99-per-month subscription or prepaid MS points for wireless streaming and downloading.
Excerpt: Like a phoenix rising from the flames, the new Zune may have a chance at a fresh, meaningful and lucrative life, free from teasing and taunting with which the original brown Zune was cursed. The 4GB and 8GB flash-based Zune has a new (albeit nano-like) compact design, a beautiful little LCD screen, quality accessories and substantial sound production. We at Digital Trends took the new Zune on a test drive and we’ve got a report for you.
Pros: Excellent sound quality; compact and sleek design; great battery life; simple interface
Cons: Weak headphones; lacks Mac support; no EQ settings; Zune Marketplace