After Taking Whipping From iPod, Redesigned Zune Will Battle iPod Touch

Microsoft’s Zune is like Rocky in his fight with Ivan Drago. After getting the crap thoroughly beaten out of it in front of the entire civilized world, the Zune just keeps stepping back into the ring for more punishment.

On Tuesday Microsoft announced its new Zune HD, which plays movies, music and games, joining the iPod Touch, PSP and DSi as do-almost-everything devices that still leave you with iPhone envy because it won’t place calls or hook up online without a WiFi signal.

What gives the new Zune a fighting chance is its integration with Xbox Live, the brilliant online gaming/social networking service on the Xbox 360. Variety’s Chris Morris is impressed with the idea behind the redesigned device, which is slated for release later this year.

“Many of our Zune customers are Xbox Live Subscribers,” said Brian Seitz, a spokesperson for Microsoft’s Zune division. “For Xbox Live subscribers that aren’t Zune owners, we’re hoping they’ll be impressed with the video offerings they see … and give us a second look when they’re looking for a new device.”

Look at some of the Zune HD‘s new features and it’s pretty obvious that Microsoft realizes their first efforts weren’t game changing enough to make a real impact on the portable entertainment marketplace. If it lives up to the hype, the Zune HD could become a much larger player in the field.

Among the new features are:

* Built-in HD Radio receiver
* HD video output capabilities
* OLED touch screen, allowing you to flip through music, movies and other content
* Wi-fi
* Internet browser optimized for multi-touch

Microsoft should be flashing its new baby next week at the E3 convention in Los Angeles, when journalists will go hands-on with the Zune HD and let you know if it has the eye of the tiger.

Zune HD is real – and it’s going to shake up Xbox Live [Variety]

Comments

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  1. GyroMight says:

    So does this mean I can stream my Netflix from my xbox live account on this?

  2. tmed says:

    Here’s the thing I see about the Zune: It’s superior to the iPod.
    It has better software and effective hardware, it offers more features and a better set of tools.
    Te other thing about the Zune is: I will probably never get one because my household has 4 iPods and too many iTunes purchases to switch.
    Sucks to be Zune.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @tmed: I disagree that the Zune is superior to the iPod. The fact that your household has four iPods and iTunes purchases is proof that the iPod is superior to the Zune, because of its ability to be in every household and be easy to use, whether you’re 6 or 60.

      • Jakuub says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: That’s only indicative of better marketing and brand than the Zune, not of the quality of the product. Idiots buy what they see on TV, or what their friends have. Ipods came to market first, and are the “known entity” – all my friends have one, it must be the right thing to buy for me as well. When you want to discuss technical merits of the hardware and software, fine, but anecdotal evidence does not an argument make.

        • LegoMan322 says:

          @Jakuub: Well Microsoft’s marketing sucks ass period, but then you compare to Apple there is no contest.

          Microsoft wanted to call/calls streaming music from Zune to Zune “squirting”?

          That sounds like something a 3 year old made up and is not a great marketing tool. ” I would like to squirt this song to you. Can you squirt that to me?”

          Get the drift?

          Also, what software has Microsoft ever produced that got a decent review they did not pay for?

          • tmed says:

            @LegoMan322: Office. Microsoft cornered the office productivity software market by producing the best office productivity software. they kicked WordPerfect’s ass and the took 1-2-3 to the woodshed.

            • mikedt says:

              @tmed: I think it was more of undercutting WordPerfect and 123 in price in the early years of Office. It was pretty easy for a while to get a full legal MS Office suite for under $100 while MS still had competitors. (try that now) Who knows how low they priced it to get it into corporate America. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was under $20 a head during that time.

              • tmed says:

                @mikedt: @LegoMan322:

                When Windows 3.0 exploded into the marketplace, WordPerfect was caught with it’s pants down. It took years to have a decently stable version available on Windows. In that time Word for Windows came in and added functionality and ease of use while WP simply tried to catch-up. Word was, at the time, a superior product.

                Excel followed a similar path against 1-2-3.

                I believe that this was the last time MS won a competition by providing a product better than its competitors. After this, it simply used its market position to influence purchases: Office became filled with bloat and security nightmares, they raped Netscape, Windows has made ridiculously gradual improvements and Microsoft has alternated improvements with crap.

            • LegoMan322 says:

              @tmed: I don’t think that is true. Microsoft dismantled WordPerfect and Netscape. They did not beat them.

              Microsoft does not make any good software. They usually steal it, change it a bit then mass produce it and stuff it down your throat.

              So this does not turn into a Microsoft sucks campaign, if I was the 2000lb gorilla in the room, I would kick the shit out of everyone just like they do.

              In other words, they only have muscle. Nothing else.

              They do however make awesome games. Age of Empires anyone?

            • Trai_Dep says:

              @tmed: Office did well largely due to the illegally leveraging of their equally illegal bundling arrangements of their monopoly OS.
              They’re brilliant in this regard, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not the case of a superior product winning hearts & minds, standing tall on its own.

            • LegoMan322 says:

              @tmed: I do not think cornering market means “good software”. There was a post from Raiders575 and they put it perfectly. “Sales aren’t proof of anything. That’s like saying a top ten album is good no matter what, because a bunch of sheep bought it after the hit single was rammed down their ear canal for a month. We should all know that sales never equal good with subjective product.”

              Just because Bud and Coors “sell the most” that does not make them good. Same with Microsoft. They are just pushing people where they want them and that is why there is a almost complete stranglehold on many things that Microsoft does. The companies just bow because they are probably making an ass ton of money. Which is why they are scared of 2 companies…..Apple and Google.

              Google will dominate the internet, and Apple will catch up with software and hardware. It will take time for this to happen, but since Microsoft cannot create, or image anything (that new Zune looks like an iPhone doesn’t it?) slowly they will start to crumble.

              Only other thing I have to say to Microsoft is…….”GOOOOD BBBYYYYYYEEEE” ::said like children from Sound of Music::

        • Raiders757 says:

          @Jakuub:

          Just to correct you. iPod’s did not come to market first. They were beat out by Creative by a long shot. If you recall, Apple also lost a suit to Creative for copying their interface.

          The rest of your post is right on the money.

          • Trai_Dep says:

            @Raiders757: But wait. How does one “flood the market” when charging “insanely overpriced” products that only “trendy sheeple” want. I’m confused.

      • woogychuck says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: @pecan 3.14159265:

        Yeah I’ve got to disagree with you there. My wife and I both have Zunes and they’re great. I’ve had 2 friends recently agree that they’re better than their iPod, but like many they’re trapped in the icy death grip of iTunes.

        Apple won’t lose any market share for iPod until the iTunes DRM free music has some time to propogate. Until then, Steve Jobs has got the mp3 player market in his pocket.

        • Anonymous says:

          @woogychuck:

          Here’s a work around for the DRM. Once you’ve downloaded your iTunes music, you can burn it to a CD. Make sure you burn it so it is a finished disc. Then you can put the disc in and import it to iTunes. The newly imported discs will not have DRM. You can back up your DRM’d files to an external drive, but you now have DRM free files that you can do whatever you want to.

      • tmed says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: If I were making the choice for the first time today, I would get Zunes for my family. If all of our iPods were stolen today, the insurance money would go to Zunes.

        By the time the Zune came out with the 2.0 software and surpassed iPods in functionality, I was beholden to Apple for DRM and video, though we don’t watch much on the Pods themselves.

        @pb5000: Well, shouldn’t that be the superiority they care about? Are you suggesting that Apple makes products they believe in and if the public didn’t buy them, they wouldn’t change them because they’re not about selling?

      • snowburnt says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Your reasoning is flawed. The iPod brand, marketing and timing has been superior to the Zune, which is why almost every household has one. Zune’s are just as easy to use. It’s an MP3 player not a Nuclear rocket.

        That said I got an iPod about 8 years ago, it broke about 4 years ago. I went looking for a new one and got a Sansa instead. It’s half the price, has more functionality that I want and if it were easier to use it wouldn’t have an interface at all and know exactly what I want which no physical or verbal hints from me.

        Lets compare the Sansa vs iPod Shuffle, 4 GB vs 2 GB, FM Radio? yes vs no. Records sound or FM Radio? Yes vs No. small LCD display? Yes vs No. price? $30 vs $50.

        it even stands up well against an iPod nano.

        iPods and Zunes are overpriced and underperforming, but the Zune has been crippled by the fact that for most people portable sound machine = ipod regardless of what they’re actually useing so much so that podcasting is a word now.

        • EqualOpportunityCrasher says:

          @snowburnt: I have a Zune and have had one for a while now, I love it. I started out with a SanDisk Sansa e250 I think it was and I hated it with a passion. I literally went through 4 of them in a year. There came a point where I just gave up on them and went out and got a new PMP. On three of the 4 the headphone jack died and on the fourth, the battery died. After that, I just gave up. I considered an iPod, but for the price I couldn’t justify it. My sister has one and I actually find the UI on both the Zune and the software to be much easier to use than the iPod and iTunes.

        • Jason Rose says:

          @snowburnt:

          Sansa not work on Mac = fail.

      • ceriphim says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Logically, that’s the worst-reasoned argument I’ve read today. And I read /. too.

      • Raiders757 says:

        @pecan 3.14159265:

        Sales aren’t proof of anything. That’s like saying a top ten album is good no matter what, because a bunch of sheep bought it after the hit single was rammed down their ear canal for a month. We should all know that sales never equal good with subjective product.

        Your also not taking into account that iPods don’t do as much as many other players can without modding the firmware, and for many, that is a big flaw. Also, my MP3 player is ten times easier to use than any iPod, and is compatible with more codec. I can drag and drop files to and from any Windows XP, or higher, system wit hease. No need for any iTunes like software. My player’s system isn’t as locked down as the iPod firmware and I like it to be that way without ever having to use Rockbox.

      • sakanagai says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Okay, I’ll bite.

        First, the cheap shot. *ahem* Holy cow! What kind of TV do you have, tmed? Apparently, if your household has it it must be superior!

        Sales + ease of use does not a better product make. It bears repeating: sales and ease of use do not provide indication of a superior product. By that standard, the greatest toy of all time is likely to be the Pet Rock. Simple to use, regardless of age save for the choking hazard with smaller rocks and younger children, and EVERYBODY has rocks.

        How is the iPod that much easier to use than a Zune? Do most Zunes try and rename things like “music” and “videos” to something obscure like “golf” or “17″? Do you have to enter a secret code to listen to your tunes? Mine doesn’t but mine might be silly like that.

        Look into Zune Pass and see if you are interested. It’s like Netflix for digital music with no limit on rentals. Want to try out an album? Download it. The whole thing. You can even download it on or copy it to your Zune if you’d like. No commitment to buy other than the 10 download credits you get each month. iTunes, on the other hand, has 30-second audio clips for each song. Not quite the same thing.

        • tmed says:

          @sakanagai:

          RE: The cheap shot: I’ll stand by my statement that Word and Excel were the state of the art products at the time that Windows blew up (3.0). Lotus and WordPerfect failed to acknowledge the change that the widespread adoption of Windows brought to the market. I am currently use Lotus Symphony, not Office.

          @Trai_Dep: The bundling came later, and was done to step on the necks of the competition that had caught up and surpassed MS’s products.

          My argument is with the second and third revision of the software, Zune has surpassed the functionality of the iPod classic, and not matter what improvements they make to the Zune HD, even if they surpass the iPod Touch, they won’t win enough market share to matter. In this regard it sucks to be them, in a larger sense, of course, it is great to see someone do to MS what they have done to the Productivity & OS Markets. I wish it weren’t Apple, they’re my second least favorite.

        • Cedhed says:

          @sakanagai: That may be true for the iPod vs Zune argument. But this new Zune looks to be competing with the touch, wich is a much more capable media/internet device.

          This brings to light a horrible shortcoming of MS’s plan. Internet explorer. Seriously the worst mobile browser available.

          And no mention of an app store or anything related to that key feature of the Touch.

          Sure it might be a great MP3 player, but so are the regular zune and the iPod classic. The Touch is a whole lot more.

    • pb5000 says:

      @tmed: yeah, I agree with pecan, the only superiority Microsoft cares about is the kind that gets you to buy one.

    • superberg says:

      @tmed:

      Zunes will play iTunes purchases, assuming they aren’t DRM’d. If they are, you can pay .30 per song for new, higher-quality, non-DRM’d versions.

      Of course, Zune doesn’t work on a Mac, so it’s not even a consideration for me.

      • mgy says:

        @superberg: One could also burn the DRM tracks to a CD and then re-rip them back into iTunes. It may take a little time, but at least you’re not paying twice.

        Also, the Zune not working on Macs is the biggest obstacle in front of me getting one. They seem decent.

        • the_wiggle says:

          @mgy: ah but you are still paying 2x – once in cash $$ & once in time. one can replace the former – not the latter.

    • takes_so_little says:

      @tmed: I disagree that the zune has better software, if that software includes the interface on the device. I personally found it a pain to navigate through menus on the thing.

    • highpitch_83 says:

      @tmed: I had too many iTunes purchases to switch as well (or so I thought) then both my and my wife’s Nano’s died within 24 hours of each other and since I’ve hated iTunes from the beginning we went the Sansa Fuze route (FM radio & recording, Video Playback AND an expandable micro SD slot for $50?!?!) and re-ripped all our DRM’d iTunes music to mp3.

      It was the longest 3 days of my life salvaging our library but once it was done it’s the happiest we’ve ever been!

      FREE YOURSELF!!!

    • jst07 says:

      @tmed:

      MyFairTunes can save you from iTunes icy grip without the hassle of burning CDs. Then, if you continue to use iTunes I think all the stuff on there now is DRM free, or at least a lot of it.

    • madanthony says:

      @tmed:

      I’ve owned 4 iPods, a Zune, and a Zen. I actually really liked the Zune hardware and device, but I hated the software. I had to run the software with a command-line switch because otherwise it would hang because my graphics card wasn’t powerful enough. It would randomly delete music from my playlist and I couldn’t figure out how to get it back.

      I ended up selling the Zune and buying an iPod classic.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @madanthony:

        I had to run the [Zune] software with a command-line switch because otherwise it would hang… It would randomly delete music

        Holy. Crap. Err. Umm… Flying cars! Cold Fusion for everyone!

      • Daniel Davidson says:

        @madanthony: I agree completely about the hardware/software.

        The Zune device is fantastic; The Windows Zune software? Not so much. The Generation 1 Zune software was actually pretty good.. but they changed the software interface in later revisions such that it is now a lot of flash, very little substance.

        Comparing iTunes to the Zune software is no contest – iTunes wins. I don’t care for iTunes either.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @tmed: …And based on that press release from 5-odd years back, cold fusion is a reality! And thank the gods, because without it, my flying car would be SUCH a parking-ticket magnet!
      Oh. Wait. You mean stuff actually has to work? Work well?!
      (cough) Never mind, as you were, men.

      • tmed says:

        @Trai_Dep: Excuse me, what are you babbling about? I am just not sure what it is you are suggesting with your response. My current guess is that you are saying Zunes don’t work?

        My experience with friends and relatives Zunes was overwhelmingly positive. The wireless sync, the radio with the purchase option, and the menu system all worked painlessly for me. The menu system took some getting used to, but it wasn’t awful, just different.

        In a feature-to-feature comparison with an iPod Classic, I think the Zune is a better device, but I don’t think it is better enough to warrent a switch. If MS uses the same approach with the Zune HD, I can picture them in the same boat. Sucks to be Zune.

        • Trai_Dep says:

          @tmed: I’m pointing out that one press release does not a flawless product make. Remember “Join The Social”? What a revolution THAT was going to be?
          Then when the actual product dropped in the hands of actual users, the implementation and design of the real product didn’t measure up to the soothing, pretty words of Microsoft’s press release.
          But DAMN do they write great copy. Hat’s off!

          Uhh, your comparisons need to be iPod Touch to the new Zune. Not the Classic, of all things. Otherwise, why not compare it against the 1st Gen Nano to really rack up the rhetorical points?

    • Ouze says:

      @tmed:

      After making a well reasoned argument as to why the Zune, in your opinion, is a better device, you explain that because of all your locked-down, DRM’d music you’re artificially locked into the (by your own claims) inferior apple ecosystem. “Sucks to be Zune”… sounds like it actually sucks to be [i]you.[/i]

    • FishtownYo says:

      @tmed:

      I’ve had Ipod classic and Nano. They both died within a two years. I bought a Zune 80g for $60 at Staples and never looked back. The battery life is good and the device interface is great. I agree with other I’m not PC or MAC fan, I have both and each does their job well. I just don’t like paying Apple for the cool factor.

    • Raiders757 says:

      @tmed:

      Your 100% correct Tmed. There’s a slew of better players on the market than the iPod line. Problem is for most of those, is that they either didn’t support a huge add campaign years ago like Apple did, or got in the game a little too late.

      Despite not nearly being the first, and a far lesser version of another companies players, Apple was smart enough to flood the market with iPod adds and become the brand/face of the MP3 player market.

      Sadly most will just buy an iPod before they really give the market a good look over, but that is sadly the way of the American Consumer.

      iPod has yet to make a player better than the almost four year old Creative Zen Vision M. Sadly, Neither has Creative.

  3. solareclipse2 says:

    Uh…what’s so great about the new Zune? I still don’t see anything that makes me want to ditch my 6 yr old iPod or my WinMo phone.

  4. zarex42 says:

    This is great, the ipod needs a lot of improvement. Maybe they’ll pull it off.

    As for people who are “stuck” with itunes, do you really think there’s no way to export your music, purchased or otherwise? Please.

  5. Goatweed says:

    Is the Zune still crippled with DRM and WMV_only media playback? I’ve been using my Creative Zen Vision:M for years with nary a hiccup and I can play any media file (except quicktime) without the need to convert it – and it plays and sounds fantastic.

    • pop top says:

      @Goatweed: I have a Zune and I’ve been downloading tons of movies and shows onto it. Maybe it’s because I have a newer one?

    • jst07 says:

      @Goatweed:

      I have a 1st gen zune loaded with CD ripped MP3s (ripped by iTunes and Winamp). Absolutely no problems loading music on it.

    • Omir The Storyteller says:

      @nakedscience: Zune has a built-in FM tuner, but in my experience it’s kinda spotty. I get fuzzy reception of the local NPR station in areas near my house and just as I get to work, although the distance between is fine. That might clear up with the HD FM tuner — if it’s digital, I would think it would either come in clear or not come in at all.

    • redhelix says:

      @Goatweed: “Is the Zune still crippled with DRM and WMV_only media playback?”

      Yeah that never happened actually

    • Ratty says:

      @Goatweed: It can;t be crippled with something that never ever existed, so no.

    • Troy Hardin says:

      @Goatweed: Oh yeah, I remember when that was never actually the case

  6. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I don’t know anything about Xbox Live (I don’t have a Xbox) but if you need Wi-fi to connect to it, doesn’t that make it a big hassle because you would need to stay put and wait for something to download, and then be able to use it on your Zune? And wouldn’t you only be able to do certain things like check messages and such? Or is the Zune equipped to handle streaming video?

  7. Baccus83 says:

    Whenever I see the phrase HD Radio, I laugh out loud. Really? High Definition Radio? zOMG!

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @Gene Gemperline: Why is that funny? It’s a real thing. It sounds like satellite, but it’s free because they have advertising on it instead of a paid subscription.

    • nakedscience says:

      @Gene Gemperline: I’ve heard it. It’s better.

    • novacthall says:

      @Gene Gemperline: I think the marketing of HD radio is ambiguous to a fault. The “HD,” I’ve heard, stands for “hybrid digital” and not “high definition.” Just don’t ask me what that means.

      • downwithmonstercable says:

        @novacthall: the HD is just a brand name from what I understand. Probably chosen to make a mental connection with HD TV or something.

        But, there is a real difference. Sound quality is very good.

        Found a wikipedia article that helps explain technical aspects:
        [en.wikipedia.org]

    • CyGuy says:

      @Gene Gemperline: I don’t understand your cynicism. HD radio is digitally broadcast radio, just as HD TV is broadcast digitally. To imply there is no such thing as HD Radio would be to imply the sound that is broadcast with digital TV is LoDef.

      I think including the HD radio is a great idea. In fact it could make the difference in my purchase decision. The first MP3 device I bought was from iRiver which I specifically chose as it was the only I had seen up until that time (2001/2?) that had a built-in FM reciever. (which is now pretty common – but missing from my iPod Touch).

      • Framling says:

        @CyGuy: No, HDTV isn’t just TV broadcast digitally. There is digital standard definition. High Definition television is just that: higher definition. More pixels makes for a clearer, crisper image.

        I need a special HD-capable TV for high-def television. Do I need HD-capable speakers for HD radio? No? Then it’s just digital radio, and throwing HD on there is just buzzword marketing.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Gene Gemperline: So basically, that Clear Channel, corporate conglomerate-made Pop (Hey, Miley, how you doin’?!) that rules all of radio now sounds somewhat nominally better?
      It’s sort of like a silver pooper-scooper for your kitty litter box, then.
      Yay, progress!

    • ceriphim says:

      @Gene Gemperline: -1 Facebook

  8. I Love New Jersey says:

    It is going to be yet another Microsoft fail.

  9. calquist says:

    I would consider switching to Zune, but my 5 year old video ipod has never given me a problem. It was expensive to start, but worth every penny and when the day comes that it dies, I will definitely buy Apple again.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @calquist: I’m the same way. I have a Touch G1, a Nano G1 and a new Nano that are always in use, all bought within a week of their release. Except for swapping a battery, no problems whatsoever.
      If I average out the length of time I’ve had them by what I paid for them times the amount of use these get, the nominal cost ($/hours used) is a mere trickle.
      And, it’s important to keep in mind, I get ITunes to manage my music, the ITMS to find new music and the vast constellation of iPod accessories to choose from, all for free (well, accessories aren’t, but their availability is a godsend).
      Plus, every several free updates, Apple throws in extra functionality and features as an unsought bonus.
      And they’re simply a pleasure to behold – there’s something ineffable about good style done correctly, especially for something welded to my hip eighteen hours of the day.

      iPod will never have the lowest MSRP, but they have the best value. Which, for discriminating shoppers, is what matters.

  10. lightaugust says:

    So, wait, who’s Apollo Creed, then?

  11. unobservant says:

    If I can play XBLA games and stream Netflix (if and when it comes to Canada) on it, Apple can suck my proverbial wang. More so than it already does.

    FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

    • novacthall says:

      @unobservant: Heh, Castle Crashers on the go? Yes, please.

      PS – So sorry about the proverbial wang. Hope that clears up. =)

      • unobservant says:

        @novacthall: Yes, my wang is the stuff of legend. In that it doesn’t exist. ;)

        I was thinking of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, but Castle Crashers works, too. And what about those terrible XNA “personal massager” games? The female Zune demographic will skyrocket!

  12. chigaimasmaro says:

    The HD radio receiver and the Xbox live integration are nice ideas will score them a few more buyers.

    I hope the Xbox live part doesn’t make up 80% of the new features, which seems to be aimed at people that already have a Xbox 360 console. I just dont see one going out and purchasing a game console to utilize the cutting edge features of their portable player.

    I just wonder if they are going to join the rest of the world and finally provide proper support for Unicode characters. That was actually the reason why I purchased an iPod over the previous Zune, renaming re-tagging my CD rips was not something i wanted to do.

    Although, if Windows 7 works well with the Zune, that could be a major factor in people buying it, since the uptake on the next version of Windows maybe better than Vista. A clean intuitive interface that lets you do when you need to do in one or two clicks, that might pull more people into the Zune corner.

  13. econobiker says:

    Quick serious question:
    What does Zune/Ipod have that a generic MP3 player or MP3 playing phone does not? Licensing? Features?

    I am a late adopter after everyone else has proven out the technology.

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @econobiker: Extra features here and there, nicer interfaces, etc. If you just want to listen to music or watch a video and don’t care about features you’ll find with the two big guys duking it out, just get a generic one. The Sandisk Sansas are pretty popular, and inexpensive.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @econobiker: I can’t attest to the Zune, but the iPod does quite a lot. Except for the shuffle, all of the iPods play video, audio of all kinds (which means audiobooks as well), allow for you to use it as a backup hard drive, store photos, access WiFi (only available on the iPod touch) and play games.

      And MP3 player phones are a complete joke…they really don’t have the same quality as an MP3 player has, and people rarely actually get the same functionality.

      I considered myself a late adopter…but I’ve had an iPod for about four years now. You’re a really, really late adopter if you’re this late to the game.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Don’t forget the ability to subscribe to thousands of podcast shows for free, seamlessly and automatically. Words can’t describe how happier my commute is with all of my favorite shows stored for when I want to hear them.
        ITunes University also has awesome lectures on practically every topic from noted lecturers and universities.
        It’s quite the bonus.
        There’s quite a lot of functionality that the iTunes Music Store offers, much for free, that’s a huge value-add to the iPods.

    • nakedscience says:

      @econobiker: Sansas and stuff usually have built-in FM tuners, which iPods don’t (not sure about the Zune). Also, Sansas and stuff tend to be a LOT cheaper, and have the exact same features (video, large capacity, micro SD slots, etc). I never got the iPod love–it’s expensive and you can get a cheaper, better player with more features.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @nakedscience: I don’t think the Sansa is really cheaper than the iPod. If you compare the Sansa View which has a screen like the iPod has a screen, you get a lot more memory from the iPod than you do with the Sansa. About 120 GB vs. 32 GB with a Sansa. For the same price.

        If all you’re looking for is the barebones MP3 player, I suppose a Sansa is a good choice since it’s about $60 for a 2 GB.

        I personally never looked into a Sansa because I knew what I wanted was more functionality, more features, and I liked that I could integrate iTunes (which I was already using to catalog my music) with an iPod, whereas I couldn’t do that with any other player.

        • nakedscience says:

          @pecan 3.14159265: It’s not bare bones, though. Mine plays video, has an micro-SD slot (which iPods don’t, last I checked), AND gets FM radio. That’s not barebones. That’s more than the iPod.

          • nakedscience says:

            @nakedscience: Oh and iTunes sucks, imo. I catalog my own music. In folders. I never got the iTunes hype.

            • Trai_Dep says:

              @nakedscience: If you can manually manage your music via your computer desktop, you don’t have enough music. :)
              Seriously, though, iTunes is a godsend for managing your tracks. Playlists, Genius*, auto-downloads of radio shows you like, playlists (both manual – for Old School guys, or automatic (most played, most recent, “house + Tïesto + 2009″, say)), are “luxuries” that quickly become “necessities”.

              * Which is a feature that takes whatever song you’re listening to, then makes an on-the-fly playlist that’s amazingly good (some obvious, some simply inspired, some that make you laugh out loud), based on your song, your library and the millions of other iPod owners’ billions of songs, using some form of weighted regression analysis. It lets you hear your library in ways that you never appreciated before.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            @nakedscience: I don’t think the iPod has a micro-SD slot, but I don’t think it needs one either. At times I wished I had access to FM radio…but that thought lasts for maybe a minute.

            I think the bottom line is: What do you want from your MP3 player? I like iTunes, I wanted to integrate my technology with iTunes. I also have a Mac, so that helps.

            My dad, if he wanted an MP3 player, would probably be better off with a Sansa, since he doesn’t use iTunes (he’s old school with his folders and .wma files) and only wants to hit play. He has no care for micro-SD or video playback or FM radio, which is fine.

            But I like that there’s at least diversity for people. I don’t think the iPod is for everyone, and I don’t think the Sansa is for everyone. But at least there are options. I’ll stick to my iPhone. I’m so glad not to be carrying multiple devices. Whenever I try to juggle things, I end up dropping something.

            For me, I use iTunes because I have a lot of music, I’m always adding and updating music, and I want to be able to search it and tag it by genre. I also want to be able to organize it into playlists if I want to and immediately sync my iPod to update with all of the playlists so I can have that music categorized for me. Also, I listen to the This American Life podcast, offered on iTunes (and other places) which is infinitely easier to move and store onto my iPod (via the iPhone).

            • c_c says:

              @pecan 3.14159265: MicroSD is beneficial because it allows you to expand your capacity without getting a new player.

              Also comparing the 120gb iPod to a 32gb Sansa is not apples to apples (no pun intended), as one is HDD based and one is flash memory based. The proper comparison would be the Touch or Nano, which are more expensive than Sansa’s for the same capacities.

              As far as iTunes, I find people either love it or hate it. However, plenty of other programs allow auto tagging, syncing, etc etc …. for example, I also listen to the This American Life podcast using Winamp to my Sansa, with no problems.

            • nakedscience says:

              @pecan 3.14159265: You’re not comparing them properly, as others have pointed out. The Sansas are better and less expensive. They have more features, for less. Period. In my opinion, people use iPods because of status and because it’s the in thing to do, not because they are superior (they really aren’t). Same with iTunes: There are plenty of better programs out there that do the exact same thing. But people like to be cool and say they use Apple.

              Well, I spend much less and get more features and don’t care if people think I’m uncool because I rather dislike Apple.

              • Trai_Dep says:

                @nakedscience: Err, I think you’re generalizing quite a bit. Read my comments, above, where I describe how the functionality of my iPod & iTunes & ITMS & the galaxy of accessories make my music listening experience a vastly richer one. Bundled with a UI that allows me to do what I want quickly, efficiently and without having to refer to manuals while on the road.
                While clean, attractive design is an important feature (who wants Ugly strapped to them eighteen hours a day), it’s minor compared to what I can do – easily – with my tunes library.
                That’s not to say that there AREN’T lemmings that chase after shiny, shiny things, but I think you’re mischaracterizing these people with the much larger ocean of people that are attracted to a compelling feature set with software that lets you do everything you want, easily.
                And, quoting the above figures, a $30 price difference for a $117 player that you’ll own for several years is pennies a week. A pittance compared to the value I feel I get from daily use of my iPod.

                That said, let 1,000 flowers bloom. If you like music and you’re happy with your mp3 player, yay!

                • c_c says:

                  @Trai_Dep:
                  Other programs do all the things you tout as reasons to use iTunes. It’s not like the choice is either iTunes or dragging and dropping folders.

                  I use Winamp and am very happy. I automatically sync my subscribed podcasts with it; it isn’t some special feature just for iTunes.

                  Media Monkey is another popular program.

                  • Raiders757 says:

                    @cc82:

                    I agree with you. iTunes is a turd of a program. one doesn’t need it unless they own an iPod.

                    To the original question asked.

                    There are other brands that have players that do just as much as an iPod, and more for a lot less money. Do your research and buy the player that best suits your needs. Don’t get caught in the middle of the Creative, Zune, and iTurd arguments.

                    • Trai_Dep says:

                      @Raiders757: Err, iTunes only works with iPods, so it’s the other way around.
                      And it’s free, so I’m unsure how something else can do it for “a lot less money”. Do they pay you for using it?

                      You’re kind of misinformed on the whole Apple/iPod/iTunes thing, sorta, huh?

          • highpitch_83 says:

            @nakedscience: Damn straight! Sansa FTW! (the microSD slot was what sold it for me)

        • GearheadGeek says:

          @pecan 3.14159265: That’s not quite the right comparison… Sansa View is a flash-memory device, a 120gig iPod would have a hard drive. The Sansa View would be comparable to an iPod Nano (also flash-memory.) I have a Sansa E260 that I’ve had for years now and it’s been bulletproof… my partner has a Fuze that he likes. They have very long battery life, decent little screens, intuitive interfaces and they sound good. Oh, and they cost less than truly comparable iPods. As a point of comparison, searching google shopping just now, 8 gig Fuze to 8 gig Nano, the Fuze is $89, the Nano is $117. (that seems rather a high price for the Fuze, my partner got his for $71 a couple months ago.)

    • Jeremy Wentworth says:

      @econobiker: I worked in various public roles for Creative Labs (they used to be the #2 company in the MP3 market) and hate Apple (or at least their business practices and current status of ‘can’t do anything wrong media/blog darling’) with every fiber of my being… that said I do own an Ipod…. the only reason? Ipod + Nike….. That was the killer feature for me.

    • c_c says:

      @econobiker:
      ipod touch and the upcoming zune hd allow you to browse the web via wifi connection. Some other brands have wifi, but I don’t think they have decent web browsing functionality.
      if you just want a music player, I’d recommend Sandisk. The clip is cheap and has great sound quality, and the larger players are excellent for their price (I still use a 3 year old Sansa e280 that works great).

    • econobiker says:

      @econobiker: Thank you for the replies and recommendations up to now. As for the late adopter we (my nuclear and extended family) are not big electronics gadget people nor do we give same as gifts. Nor have I/we had reason to listen to music/books such as extended excercise workouts or long commutes.

      I asked just because I recently scored a new cell phone that is music playing capable. Finally everything is getting combined into one digital unit (Iphone and its ilk etc) that is eliminating the need for extra units. {I am also seeing that those types of phones are giving digital-internet access to socio-economic levels of folks who might not have had it years ago.} I would have liked an FM radio capable phone (had one years ago until it ended up exploded on an interstate) if only for weather (tornado) warnings though I will explore text msg warning availability for same.

      As background, it has not been a priority to spend money on digital media players since I/we got burned by the record / tapes/ cds media format changes over the years. And only recently has equipment been available to cheaply bring those legacy analog media types over to digital formats. Heck, I drive a 14 year old car with a dead cassette deck in it but still listen to the radio. I recently gave my wife an under $70 cd/cdr/digital plug ready unit for her 8 year old car to replace the cassette deck in it.

      Thank you again for the ideas and recommendations. No need for more replies on my part but feel free to continue the banter about the various items if you want…

    • wcnghj says:

      @econobiker: The Zune Pass.

      Unlimited music for $15/month

  14. superberg says:

    Other than HD Radio and 720p out(via additional dock purchase!), it’s just an iPod Touch. The OLED screen sounds nice, but I’m waiting to see what Apple does first. New iPods are usually announced in September.

    I’m happy with my iPod, and a Zune won’t work on the Mac OS anyway. Strangely enough, in the case of iPod vs. Zune, the iPod is the more open platform.

    • Raiders757 says:

      @superberg:

      Ipods are the most closed out/locked down players on the market. Who are you trying to kid? Unless your talking about changing your firmware to Rockbox. Then you may be onto to something, but out of the box, “open” is hardly the term that can be used with anything made by Apple.

  15. SanDiegoDude says:

    The XBox Live thing is kind of cool I guess, although honestly most of it is “watch this preview of this video game we want you to buy!” and not much else. One of the huge draws of the Itouch/Iphone is the fact there are soooo many apps out there (yea, those “there’s an app for that” commercials bug me too, but it’s true, there are shitton of apps out there). The Itouch my fiancee has has sooo outgrown it’s original purpose of a media player. Unless Microsoft really finds a way to draw app developers to get super creative with this new Zune, I don’t really see much of a reason to switch from the Itouch.

    • the_wiggle says:

      @SanDiegoDude: jsut for giggles, how about cross breeding the palm pre with the new zune? plenty of apps were done for prior palms, surely those folks would come back & do more?

  16. Meathamper says:

    I don’t know… I want a Zune badly, but I’m looking at a small 8GB version. This seems too big for me, so I don’t feel welcome to the social yet.

  17. Radi0logy says:

    If this were a phone I would buy it

  18. andrewe says:

    I recently returned an Ipod Touch and replaced it with a Zune. I’m much happier with the Zune at a third of the Touch’s price.

    The iTunes software absolutely refused to cooperate with me and the iPod. After 2 frustrating weeks the device went back.

    I bought the Zune and had it set up and full of music in minutes.

    It made me think of the Apple commercials on TV except the Mac was the device with all the troubles while the PC functioned flawlessly.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @andrewe: I presume you did try to troubleshoot to see why your iPod Touch didn’t integrate with iTunes.

      I’ve never had an iPod Touch, so I can’t attest to it. I went from the first gen iPod video to an iPhone, which has been fantastic.

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @andrewe: I too have had nothing but problems with itunes. I had an ipod, which worked fine, but I got rid of it for a larger capacity Zune. I ditched itunes fairly quickly and ended up using Floola to load music. Itunes is a resource hog on my computer and runs like crap. I had several crashes too during music transfer. I don’t know if it just doens’t work well on Windows machines or what, but I don’t get the Itunes hype.

    • Spinfusor says:

      @andrewe: I have an iPod Touch and haven’t had any problems with it.

      The interface is great (using non-touch screen music players is a lot slower and feels clunky and dated), it has a huge library of applications, works flawlessly with iTunes (for me, anyway), has the best mobile browser I’ve ever used, and has a nice screen.

      My only complaints are that the battery life (I have a first generation model) isn’t very good and that the capacity is too small (because of applications and movies, I’d like 64GB).

  19. Papercutninja says:

    I have no issue either way with either the Zune hardware or software (except that cheesy “Welcome to the Social” aspect of it) but i think that it will probably be another commercial failure for Microsoft. I just don’t know if it has enough innovative stuff to actually be a competitor to the juggernaut that is iPod. It’ll continue to be the niche media player as an alternative to the iPod. I think that even Microsoft is thinking that way.

    • Omir The Storyteller says:

      @Papercutninja: Actually the “Welcome to the Social” aspect of Zune is pretty cool because . . . um . . . well . . .

      OK, I lied. It isn’t.

      Not that it couldn’t be if everyone used a Zune and people really were turning their friends on to music they liked by sharing it out (and if the sharing wasn’t crippled). But I’ve had a Zune for about a year now and have yet to share a single track, either direction.

  20. takes_so_little says:

    I have very simple needs from my mp3 player:

    1) hold about 60g of music
    2) play it back for me on demand

    That’s it. I’m stil cool with my 5th gen 80g iPod. These new devices are for people less Old than me I guess.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @takes_so_little: It’s not so much that it’s “new”…it’s just new to Zune. They’re late to the touchpad market, I guess, though I don’t think it’s much of a market since I think Apple is the only company with a touchpad MP3 player.

      I like my iPod, but it’s been replaced by my iPhone. But the iPod served me extremely well.

    • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

      @takes_so_little: I’m pretty tech savy, and love new electronic toys…but I agree with you.

      All I need from my MP3 player is lots of storage, and music play back. I’d rather the money I spend go towards making a smaller device, better battery life, and more storage.

      I have a 30GB Zune (modified to 60GB), and I almost never watch the movies on there. I also prefer actual buttons to a touch screen so I can navigate without looking at the screen (while driving).

    • highpitch_83 says:

      @takes_so_little: Question: Who needs to carry 30/60+ Gb’s of music on them at all times?

      I get frustrated cycling through 4-8gb!

  21. Doreen DelPurgatorio says:

    I love my Zune. But then again, I’ve been known to wear Crocs around the neighborhood.

  22. morganlh85 says:

    I love my current Zune. I’m still wary about touch screens in general though…I’m the type who likes to keep my player in my pocket and be able to start or stop songs without having to take it out of my pocket and physically look at it to do so. But I think it looks really nice.

  23. dandubois says:

    I’m not sure why so many users bash on the zune. I have a mac, had an ipod but fully use zune. First of all to me the Zune pass is unbeatable in its current state. I pay 15 bucks a month for unlimited music and ten songs I get to keep drm free.

    If each song is $1 and i get ten (“free”) that makes the zune pass really only $5 a month.

    I have xbox live and use it often. Its very useful to have the accounts microsoft points system linked. So say I buy 1000 points to buy something on xbox for 700points. I usually use my remaining points towards a video or songs on my zune.

    Even the interface to me is MUCH better than ipod. When I first used itunes It seems way to clunky to me. Everything is a giant list, its slow (even on my mac) and for me its just a pain to use. I have to click on the marketplace to search it?

    On zune the default shows all album art all the time. You can switch the the painfully confusing clunky itunes like list veiw if you want. The search function extends to my collection and the marketplace all at once. Zune also has the social, So it automatically downloads what my friends listen to so I can check out their tastes and with new bands and such. I have used the mixveiw music reccomondations and vs the itunes genius zune wins. Itunes either doesnt work all the time or is waaay off. Also zune has wifi. Sometimes its handy to be able to share songs and pictures wirelessly. It has the radio where I can tag songs to download. Another good point for me is EVERY zune has wifi and can search and download and/or buy music wirelessly. Only the ipod touch and iphone can do that. The low end ipods cannot. I also do not like the click wheel. It just feel unintuitive. Most people say the opposite but anything becomes easy to use if you use it everyday. The zune has always been fairly simple.

    I know my opinions wont change any hardcore fanboys opinions of the ipod. Each player has things the other doesn’t. Ipod has better battery life, Some better features in itunes like the ability to change a songs volume but in contrast zune appeals to me alot more visually and functionality wise with wifi,radio,integrated points and the pass.

    I think most people just do not know how much the zune is capable of and thats why its not as popular. Most of the people I take the time to explain the zune to and show all its features vs the Ipod they usually decide zune is superior.

    Every time the zune makes some announcment people bash it right away from anything from the IE mobile thats coming when you havent used it yet to its “ugly” because of the screws on the back. I think visual appeal is somewhat important but is almost useless to the actually functions of the device. Just at least give it a chance before assuming its a horrible device.

  24. zentec says:

    As far as I’m concerned, the Zune can fart sunshine and kittens and I still won’t buy one. Microsoft burned that bridge years ago.

    When it comes to buying technology products, Microsoft is one brand I actively avoid.

    • jaderobbins says:

      @zentec: That is a shame then, becuase the Zune and the 360 are a few of the things that Microsoft have actually gotten right.

      I’m still kind of wary, because the Ipod vs Touch and Zune vs ZuneHD are a discussion worth having. For my my iPod touch is NOT a music player, it’s an awesome PDA, but it looks like the Zune HD will have the same interface as the regular music player so it will keep it’s core competency.

      • zentec says:

        @jaderobbins:

        That’s what I hear, that these products are actually good. But Microsoft’s past practices have tainted the well.

        • Meathamper says:

          @zentec: I agree that Microsoft hasn’t gotten everything right, but I think that Microsoft is on the rebound and it’s now worth treating it as a consumer electronics company.

  25. Outrun1986 says:

    I am still sticking with the Sony PSP, as I simply cannot afford to have a screen that is any smaller than what the PSP offers. Reading subtitled videos on anything smaller is horrid. I listen to Japanese music, so iTunes is useless since its regionalized. I also don’t want iTunes on my PC, it would probably crash my PC a lot. I have never owned an iPod and I just don’t need one.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Outrun1986: Err, all iPods are regionalized. All the Romantic languages, sure, but also Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Thai… Even the Spoken Menu feature, when activated, is localized to whichever language you prefer. And of course, the iTunes app supports nearly all languages known to man (except, regrettably, they don’t support “Kitteh”).
      Like many iPod features, it’s not something that Apple blares at 100 decibels, but when you want it, you discover that it’s there, and implemented in their typically superb fashion.
      (shrug) FWIW.

      • Outrun1986 says:

        @Trai_Dep: I mean the iTunes store (sorry). You can’t buy Japanese artists music from the US store, you have to access the Japanese store (unless the artist has chosen to bring their music to America as well). The Japanese store does not take US credit cards or American iTunes cards, causing a problem in obtaining the music.

        There are ways of getting hold of the Japanese iTunes cards but your gonna pay a premium for it.

        • Trai_Dep says:

          @Outrun1986: Ahh, if only Apple controlled all the world’s media companies…
          But can’t really blame Apple for what a label does or doesn’t do, right? After all, Apple doesn’t own the rights.
          And is there anything out there that does what you want? Does the PSP have some kind of front end for this?

  26. quadrant6 says:

    Seriously, Microsoft needs to get with the competition and release their Zune software on the Mac as well. Apple has had iTunes on PC’s for how many years now?

  27. thrashanddestroy says:

    Bah, I was a longtime Zune defender but after having the same technical issue twice within two months, getting a refurb and finally having the bugger crap out on me…yeah, I can’t/wont ever support the Zune again.

  28. Raanne says:

    hmmm… this has me wanting it. I love my zune, and honestly, you can’t beat the price. I got it a year and a half (?unsure) ago right before they came out with their 2nd generation one, so all the 1st gens were on sale. It was $100 for a 40 gig mp3 player with a radio. You can’t beat that. Even today its hard to match that. And i have had no problems with it pulling any music off my computer – it found all my itunes music, and uploaded it no problem. of course, i dont ever buy music off itunes, i just used itunes to store my music. The computer interface software is a little bulky, but I dont use it that much. The podcast download is nice – it automatically deletes any podcasts you’ve listened too, and uploads all the latest ones.

    The best thing with the zune that i have seen is that when they changed their software, it updated the software on my device as well. so even though i have an older player, the software and interface is all still the same.

    I’m not saying its the best player for everyone, but I have been very happy with mine. I would love one that had wifi browsing capabilities though.

  29. Haggie1 says:

    Any device of this nature without an SDHC slot is being purposefully under-engineered to create artificial and premature obsolescence.

    No, the Apple devices don’t have SDHC either, but we KNOW they are built to be obsolete after 12 months.

  30. ceriphim says:

    “What gives the new Zune a fighting chance is its integration with Xbox Live, the brilliant online gaming/social networking service on the Xbox 360.

    What the hell? Where did this little gem come from, and how much did they get paid to post this?

  31. West Coast Secessionist says:

    Would it sync with my Mac? Or be usable at all with it? Sorry, but I’m not gonna switch to Windows for a music player, which is sad because it looks totally sweet.

  32. Troy Hardin says:

    I would love to trade my 30gb Ipod for a Zune of any generation. To rid myself of itunes and the poor performance of the ipod would be bliss. Heck I even considered busting out my old 20GB Creative Jukebox III, if it weren’t so big and clunky I may have just done so…

  33. MissPiss says:

    My two year old iPod no longer produces any sound when I plug in head phones, or an aux cable. Why? Why?! Why???!!!!!! I LOVED you!!!!

  34. FLConsumer says:

    iPod Touch is an odd device. Terrible MP3 player, probably best used as a wireless web browser, but the lack of physical keyboard makes that a bit painful.

    Add MS’ penchant for copying someone else’s idea then getting it terribly wrong, this product is doomed.

  35. BillyDee_CT says:

    I think Microsoft missed the boat yet again with their second generation Zune. Thing about it – the reason many buy a portable music player to AVOID listening to corporate-programmed drone radio. HD should stand for highly disappointing – people aren’t flocking to it since there’s little difference in sound, especially since the vast majority of broadcasters process the audio in a similar manner to the analog counterpart so the listener isn’t “annoyed” when the radio switches between analog and digital modes. With such aggressive audio processing how can you bother to justify the existence of HD radio. I’m perfectly happy with my analog radios for when I want to hear over-the-air music and/or information. low bitrate digital radio can’t certainly be compared to what people associate HD with – mainly television. It’s all marketing hype and Microsoft has jumped into the pool.

    I’ll gladly keep my iPod for listening to my personal entertainment when out and about and if I really feel the need to listen to radio I’ll actually turn a radio on?

    Score: iPod – 1, Zune – two-bad (pun intended as in too bad, you lose again)