Microsoft Zune HD: better than iPod! Wait... What???

Microsoft's latest personal media player, the Zune HD, is now available: get it while it's hot. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers make the obvious comparisons with Apple's iPod Touch and iPod Nano.

By Richi Jennings. September 16, 2009.


Your humble blogwatcher has selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention another mad mashup from DJ Steve Porter ...

Daniel Ionescu bites his tongue:

Does Microsoft really think it can outdo Apple ... with the Zune HD? Get serious. ... Microsoft's Zune HD comes in today at a lower price point than Apple's iPod Touch, but that's not enough.


Hardware-wise, there are not many differences between the two players, but I have to give to the Zune HD for the built-in HD radio receiver and the HD video compatibility, though only via the dock, which is sold separately ... and the crisp OLED display.

Eric Savitz "smiles" for the camera:

The Zune HD features an OLED multi-touch screen, an Nvidia (NVDA) Tegra processor, an FM tuner with HD Radio capabilities, wifi capability and 720p HD video store and playback. Microsoft says the new Zune will have some new casual games, a calculator and an MSN weather application; later this year there will be Twitter and Facebook apps for Zune. Games can be added via the Zune Marketplace.


Available from retailers now at $219.99 for a black 16 GB version, or $289.99 for a platinum 32 GB version.  Additional colors - red, green and blue - can be ordered on the Web. Now let’s see if people actually buy them.

Wow, not even Rob Enderle has many kind words to say:

If you look at the new Zune against the iPod line, it is almost the reverse of the typical Microsoft and Apple formula. Apple has a broad range of products that do a lot of things, while Microsoft has basically one design that does a few things better than Apple does.


The Zune HD falls between the iPod Nano and iPod Touch in specs, while exceeding both in some key areas (but missing a camera) though it is now priced closer to the iPod Touch. Where it stands out is in three areas: it has built-in subscription-based music (all you can eat for a monthly charge), it has the best display currently on the market (also the most expensive), and it has a high-definition FM radio. It is a very attractive product and, uncharacteristically for a Microsoft offering, extremely easy to use. It actually outputs high definition (720p) video thanks to the Nvidia Tegra graphics system and HD videos on the device will actually look good on a HDTV.

But Prince McLean looks inside:

Promoting OLED is an expensive option for Microsoft, and one which carries some early adopter risk. A parts teardown by iFixit says the Samsung-built 3.3" display "is likely the most expensive item on the Zune's bill of materials" and "incredibly thin (1mm)."

  The part is credited with contributing to the Zune HD's battery life, which is rated longer than the iPod touch despite having a battery capacity of 660 mAh. "That's about 16% less than the 789 mAh battery in the new iPod touch," the teardown notes.

Chris Davies, too:

If seeing the outside of Microsoft’s Zune HD wasn’t good enough for you, then Rapid Repair have gone a few steps further and fully dismantled the touchscreen OLED PMP.  Their latest teardown delivers no great surprises – unlike the iPod touch 3G, there’s no sign of a camera module nook, nor untapped WiFi potential – but the mediaplayer itself is deemed relatively straightforward (though warranty-breaking) to get inside.


[It] does, apparently, have a hidden message on the inside back cover, reading “For Our Princess” and said to be in memory of a member of the Zune HD development team who passed away during its creation.

Meanwhile, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols offers another alternative:

I didn't expect much from the Archos 5 Internet tablet -- and I was surprised. This Android Linux powered device is more than just another would-be iPod Touch competitor; it's a powerful touch computer in its own right.


What really impressed me though the Archos 5 is its 4.8-inch 800x400-pixel display. ... It can also play just about any video format you can throw at it: Flash, MPEG-4 HD, H.264 HD, WMV, MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, Flac, and OGG Vorbis. What's nicer still is it can play 720p HD (high definition) video. With the built-in Wi-Fi, you can now watch movies from VoD (Video on Demand) services like Hulu, or listen to music from sites such as Pandora.

And this Anonymous Coward gets some exercise:

In other news, I'm going out for a bike ride like my competitor Lance Armstrong.

So what's your take?

Get involved: leave a comment.

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And finally...

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 24 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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