Like the Timex of yesteryear, Microsoft’s Zune takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Well, maybe not ticking. But it’s not dead yet. Introducing the Zune HD. Microsoft’s next iPod killer. What’s the HD stand for? It’s not what you think.
As an original iPod owner, and owner of nearly every iPod model since, including the iPod touch, I’m qualified to say that the Zune HD won’t be an iPod killer.
First, it’s aimed at the rapidly growing iPod touch market but in such a way as give Microsoft an out should the Zune HD fail or flail in the market place. In other words, the Zune HD misses the mark and features don’t really compare well to the iPod touch.
It Does What?
Going right at the heart of the matter, the Zune costs less, now, than an iPod touch with comparable memory. The iPod touch currently comes in three flavors starting with an 8 gigabyte model for $229, a 16 gigabyte version at $299, and the whopping 32 gigger at $399.
The Zune HD will have multiple colors vs. the iPod touch black, but only come in 16 gigabyte and 32 gigabyte versions, but start at $219 and end up at $289—a full $100 plus less than the iPod touch.
What’s the Zune HD do that’s different than the iPod touch?
It plays HD radio. It plays 720p movies.
The Day After
I’m convinced that many Zune HD owners will be disappointed on Christmas morning when they find out that all it does is play music, HD radio, and 720p movies, but no games, no applications, and probably not as much fun as an iPod touch, the funnest iPod ever.
Timing is everything and Zune HD timing is really bad this year. Apple will introduce a new line of iPods in September. Not only will the current iPod touch models do more than a Zune HD, the new models are likely to sport a built-in digital camera and other goodies. Apple is a moving target.
I use my iPod touch as a netbook in the living room. It’s perfect for checking email, browsing the web, catching up on notes, chatting, playing games, watching videos, and everything else that makes the iPhone, iPod touch platform so enjoyable.
HD radio? Hasn’t the iPod done enough damage to radio already with tens of millions of iPod connectors in cars?
The Zune HD design is more akin to Microsoft, with beveled angles and highly visible screws to hold it together. The price, however, is more competitive—hardware to hardware—than previous models.
It won’t matter. Microsoft is years late with their catch up media player that will be eclipsed by the next generation iPod touch models; more features, more capability, more fun. How about an iPod touch model with a built in digital camera, ala the iPhone; for movies and photos?
The price differential between the Zune and iPod touch won’t matter. The Zune brand doesn’t carry much cache these days.
The true test of Microsoft’s anemic attempts to compete is contained in the answer to a simple question: “do you know anyone with a Zune?”