Zune a Pod Killer?

20 11 2006

ZuneThe Microsoft Zune is a portable media player that is being touted as an iPod killer – but is it really that good?

Unfortunately Microsoft have not yet made any commitment to release the Zune and associated music store anywhere outside the US at the moment, though there does seem to be an indication that if they eventually do, it could be somewhere between late 2007 and early 2008. So that slight issue alone says to me that the Zune will not be doing any killing for a while yet, at least not until it can match the iPod in terms of availability.

From an excellent review of the Zune over at TidBits I can give you this summarisation:

Zune players can’t play PlaysForSure music that Windows owners already purchased. Music purchased for Zune won’t play on any other device, despite Microsoft’s long-stated criticism of that sort of policy. The Wi-Fi can’t be used for synchronization or Internet downloads. Battery life is slightly worse than an iPod’s. You cannot buy video content or audio books yet, and podcasts must be managed manually.

The user interface is very nice though, with some simple yet effective transitions that are fast enough not to annoy you, but there just long enough for you to appreciate them. A nice demo of the interface is available over at Engadget.

Anyone who is familiar with the Media Center edition of Windows XP will recognise some similarities with the way the interface looks and works, and I can say that it does looks very nice and although I can’t use one myself to try it out, it does look in many ways to be better than the iPod’s.

It seems like the Zune has a few changes to make first though. Although the larger screen and the overall asthetics do look quite nice, functionality is also crucial when buying any device, and the Zune just falls short of the other standards the iPod has set which have made it so popular.

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