The Competition: Zune HD Hands-on


Our equal and opposite, Phil Nickinson over at WMExperts, has just provided the equal and opposite to our just-posted iPod touch G3 hardware review -- a hands-on with the Microsoft Zune HD.

t's my first foray into the Zune ecosystem, so I have a bit of a learning curve, and bear with me. But without giving away the farm, I'll say this: If this is the direction in which Windows Mobile is moving, we all have much to look forward to.

Part 1 covers the desktop software, Quickplay (think genius), the apps, Zune marketplace, what's in the box, the hardware, the screen, and teases Part 2 (of course).

Check it out, then remember to join us for iPhone Live! tonight, as Phil will be our special guest, and we'll take the Zune HD one on one with the great one -- the iPod touch.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

The Competition: Zune HD Hands-on


you should be excited for competition, it'll make your beloved apple try harder, even though i'm sure they're perfect in your eyes.


Oh puh-leeeze.
If Apple introduced a new Music player and had the same 9 apps, you MS butt-lickers would be all over this site flaming/trolling.
Give us a break.
The Zune "eco-system" needs AlGore to fix it - LOL

It is really hard to see how the ZuneHD will be able to do well. Some reasons:
North America only, it is a big world outside of the US.
The required software will not run on a Mac, Linux or even WinXP64.
There is the Zune Pass, but I would much rather have Internet radio and Pandora. The Zune does not do these.
Some of the hardware is nice, but overall the new touch hardware is better.
The number one failing is the lack of apps.
I would like to have good competition for the touch but it looks like it will have to come the Android camp, maybe the Zii or Archos5 will be the competition.

@Bre Bre... For your info I have an iPhone and love it, but I also love competition because it advances technology. Apple wouldn't be where they are today without competition. Just my $.02

Even if this thing IS better than the iPod, it will still be avoided like root beer in a green can. Sorry, but there's just no style here with its disco fonts and four screws in each corner.

I'm hardly a fanboy, the moment an Xbox/Zune phone comes out i'm switching.
But let's not church it up, this thing is just an MP3 player, Period.
The UI looks good, good direction, that's probably the only competition the iPhone needs to take out of this thing... create a better UI.
Other then that, like i said, integrate Xbox Live into a phone, keep this ZUNE UI, and the player etc etc.. and i'm sold. I'll buy one.

@ iPhoneMilk
At this time the processors needed to run Xbox360 software are too power hunger for mobile use. It will be many years before it could happen and by then the Xbox360 will be deader than the original Xbox is now. Same goes for the PS3 as well.

I'm not talking about making a 360 phone... lol that you can play 360 games on..
No no, just integrate the Xbox live accounts into the phones,
Example. you're signed into your account while on the phone and you can see your live friends playing Xbox, from your cel phone and even chat with them.
Purchasing a game from the Microsoft Marketplace like peggle, will grant you achievement points towards your gamerscore FROM your cel phone.
Things like that.

For me (even though i have the iphone 3gs and wouldnt want anything else)i wouldnt switch to a zune simply because i have so much money invested in itunes i have at least 100gb worth of movies,music,tv shows and games and i own all of it. i cant imagine playing on a smaller screen, and does hd really matter on a 3 inch or less screen to me my iphone look pretty dam sharp and i already connect it to my tv to watch movies

All these people saying that competition advances technology. Does it really? If I'm company a and I have a popular product out and company b puts out their version of it and company c and so forth, do I really want to take any chances if I'm still selling well? If it ain't broke don't fix it? I think true innovation comes only when a companies got nothing to lose. Competition might just stifle it.

Well, the share market seems underwhelmed. Apple's share price has been rocketing along for with a bit of a spurt upward on release of the new iPods. Microsoft price and stagnated. Not even a bump on release of Zune HD.
Apple put on 3.8% in todays trading. Microsoft, again went no where.

The zune HD does NOT have an HD screen. It has HD radio.
Easy to see how you would be misguided. It's a scornfully tricky advertising coupe.

So the ZuneHD will fail because it only has 9 nine apps available at launch?
How many apps were available at iPhones launch?

Mr. Anonymous: your comparison isn't all that apt, as the Zune HD is about at the same point in the product life cycle as the iPhone 3G, not the original iPhone. The3G had a number of apps available at launch as I recall.

I think is will fail cause it has to much against it apple already has the market cornered 90,000 apps 20million ipod touch sold, like 40 million iphones plus,and they have nothing to offer iphone users (in my opinion)cause we have online apps,a camera, online radio, plus itunes though some people dont like it has the best online catalog for music, movies, and tv shows, apps and games and its user friendly for you average computer user

From the review:
"Oh, all nine of the apps total about 104MB of space on the Zune HD."
OVER 10 MB average for a few simple games and utilities??
I'm no fanboy, but that sounds like typical MS bloat.

I have an iPod touch and a iPhone 3g. I owned a 20gb iPod, a 80gb iPod, an iPod video, 2 shuffles, and a mini. I also owned a 2 zunes. The only problem I had with zune was the drm. I hated that if I wasn't conected to the Internet every 30 days or so. I wasn't allowed to ake music off or put music on my zune. I couldn't even delete photos without a internt conection. It was probly the worst anti-user friendly setup I've ever seen. (something I pray they fixed with this model. If anyone knows please tell me) the zuneHD while not perfect actually looks kinda cool. Plus someone is gonna hack it right away and make it more user friendly then it is. Xbox live sync would make it awesome. I also sent Microsoft an email asking them to add live sync and to consider a real life achievement system. Imagine this. Your walking through Gamestop and you see a standee for Halo odst. You use the camera to snap a pic. The zune uses simple shape and color recognition software to scan every picure you take. When you match something to a preset list of items you unlock achievements. Like a scavenger hunt. Add a social element to that like like progress tacking and comparison with friends on facebook, and you've got a little unique component that could draw in some gamers. That's just for starters of coarse. You can do better things than that. Idk just my personal feelings. Untill I feel that it's worth it though. I'll stick with my Iproducts.

The fact is Apple had to convince the mobile networks that apps weren't going to be malicious and bring their networks down, so there was slow development towards the AppStore with the iPhone in mind. Zune HD isn't a phone so it is pretty slow to have 9 at launch when they have access to the xbox developers to compete with the iPod touch and it's library.

Two design comments:

  1. Personally I don't love the form, but that's only based on pictures, so I'd have to see it in person.
  2. WTF is with the word "Marketplace" not fitting on the screen? That is just piss poor graphics. It doesn't miss by enough to make it look like a concious design decision…instead it just looks like a mistake. MSFT's design department still has such a long way to go, IMHO.

Well... ive got an ipod touch 2nd gen ,iphone 3g and a macbook pro. I know that even if if the microsoft zune had double the storage, all the features of an ipod touch and cost less. I know that I'm not going to see any, because anything you listen music to on that isnt an apple product will instantly make you a nerd or dork or poorbie....

@ Shane I mean no disrespect at all, but just because apple Products are cool dosent mean you are. Most apple products are purchesed by nerds and dorks. Using words like poorbie to decribe non apple users. Is part of the reason everyone thinks us Mac and iPod users are rich snobs that think were better then every one else. I don't use zunes and windows pc's because I'm tierd of sipping wine at my summer home, and I want slum it for a few weeks. I due it because as much as I love my 24" iMac, 16gb iPhone 3g, and many iPods. There are somethings that my Xbox 360, zune, and gaming laptop can currently do better. Yes, crashing, and getting viruses are two of them, but HD gaming is another and playing blueray are others. (I'm aware that I could by an upgrade graphics card for my $2,000 iMac, and buy an external blueray drive. But there are few games and apple hasn't fully intergrated blueray support system wide.)

Not really, no. If anyone does do that, they're idiotic kids who still think having an Ipod/Iphone is "in" or
"special" Yeah... it isn't anymore, sorry. when everyone and their mothers, fathers, grandparents and ancestors started using the Iphone, you were no longer deemed cool or a rich kid or anything along those lines.. you're just one of the many people who stick to the norm, despite there being better alternatives.

Dude, I can do the same thing you're doing! I have a 24" Imac, Alienware gaming laptop and every single Ipod that came to be, even the black and white first edition. And in the summers, I spend time overseas in my yacht sipping Piña colada when I'm not chilling in my multiple mansions located around the world. See how pretentious I can be??

@ MGS I don't lknow what to make of your reply. Were you trying to be sarcastic or supportive, because it's not very clear. If I came across as pretentious I'm sorry. What I was trying to say is that just cause I own a mac doesn't mean I think I'm better then you. I actualy live with my parents in a crap hole apartment.. I lost my job 6 months ago, and for have been poor all my life. That's the point I was trying to make. Owning apple products shouldn't be a sign of wealth since I think more poor people own them then rich people. Don't judge a person by the multimedia device he carries. Oh and the only reason I posted all my products was because Ive noticed on this sight that if you defend Microsoft in anyway without mentioning that your an apple user. You get acussed of being a windows lacky and trolling. I'll tone it down in the future. By the way what does MGS stand for?

better alternatives for whom exactly. I'm comfortable with the iPhone/touch way of doing things an quite frankly a phone or pmp isn't that important to me that I want to try anything different. The best alternative is the one that works for you

The Republicans state they would like to slash 20 present from the spending budget from the Department of Education so how could a single mother like me continue with my educations if the scale back on scholarships?