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.
Conclusion: As a piece of hardware, it’s easy to dismiss the Zune as yet another iPod wannabe. But coupled with the Microsoft’s tightly integrated Zune Pass, it offers a level of music selection and ease of use that’s unrivaled by anything, including the iPod (which has no subscription option).
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.
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 …
Excerpt: Microsoft, seeing the futility in polishing turds, went back to the drawing board to design the second rev of the Zune. (If only they’d do the same for Vista!) Fortunately for early adopters, many of the new features and desktop software will be made available for the first-gen Zune via a firmware update. The new player features a much-improved control mechanism consisting of a touch-sensitive pad atop four buttons.
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.
Conclusion: The new 8GB Zune Red is a sexy little MP3 player – certainly better than many competitive players on the market. The screen is very nice (a little small) and has great color rendering and smooth action. The FM radio is a sweet feature, especially for those of us who easily tire of our private music collection. The 8GB Zune also plays video quite well, making it a decent player for watching tiny videos on the go.
Pros: Excellent sound quality; compact and sleek design; great battery life; simple interface
Cons: Weak headphones; lacks Mac support; no EQ settings; Zune Marketplace