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Should I Buy a Zune?

by Louie Doverspike
  • Overview

    Microsoft's Zune MP3 player will inevitably be compared with the market-dominating Apple iPod, the current reigning champ in the portable audio category. However, whether or not the Zune is better or worse than Apple's offering is not as cut and dry as it may seem. The Zune has a number of advantages and disadvantages that complicates any attempt at declaring one better and one worse. Ultimately, whether the Zune is worth your money will depend upon what factors you are looking for in a personal audio player.
  • Specifications

    The most current Zune release, as of mid-2009, is the Zune HD. The Zune HD has a 16x9 OLED display, with a 480x272 resolution. The touchscreen design places the navigation right on the face of the device. It comes in a variety of capacities, with 32 GB being the current maximum for the HD model. The Zune includes wi-fi for live music purchases, Internet browsing and the ability to play HD radio frequencies.
  • Advantages

    The Zune is a gorgeous piece of tech. It feels nice in your hands, has a slim profile and looks defiantly futuristic. It's dimensions are slightly smaller than its direct competition, the iPod Touch. The Zune also has a number of features that make it an exceptional media player, the amazing screen being only the most obvious example. Perhaps more importantly, the Zune has the ability to output HD video, making it a wonderful addition to a home theater system.
  • Disadvantages

    The Zune's weaknesses are few, but substantial, particularly in comparison to the iPod. The biggest difference is the Zune's lack of applications. Microsoft went for broke when it came to media playback, but many people may lament the lack of customization. While Microsoft will release some additions and treats, they've made it clear that there will not be the same kind of vibrant programming and application scene as found in Apple's App Store. The other weaknesses of the Zune are true of most media players on the market, namely limited format support. You may find that many of your video and audio files require conversion before they will play properly on your Zune.
  • Conclusion

    If you are looking for a media player and nothing more, than the Zune is for you. The design is gorgeous, playback is exceptional and you get the addition of HD radio. However, if you are jealous of your friend's numerous iPhone applications, than the Zune is likely to disappoint. On Microsoft's wonderful portable player, the media comes first.

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