Zune vs. iPod Review

By Deane Barker on November 14, 2006

Zune vs. iPod: the battle begins: Fortune reviews the Zune against the iPod and the winner is…the iPod. But it’s not as much of a runaway victory as you’d expect.

The Zune did quite well in a couple areas, and, as Fortune notes, it’s the first model out the door. It’s only going to get better. Competition is good — my hope is that this will drive the iPod forward as well. Two behemoths fighting for market share will benefit everyone.

If I didn’t already have an iPod — and had not already invested lots of money in songs and videos downloaded from the iTunes media store — the Zune might be tempting. It’s an impressive digital audio player, and the bigger screen is alluring.

But like so many Microsoft products, version 1.0 is not as polished as it should be.

The Zune really got burned by their goofy DRM issues. The Zune store is as cool as iTunes either.

But, if you feel like criticizing the Zune, there’s ample fodder at the Wikipedia page:

Though the Zune is a Microsoft product, it is not capable of playing music encrypted in Microsoft’s own PlaysForSure Format.

While the Zune has built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, it can connect only to another Zune. It can’t sync to a personal computer, and it can’t wirelessly download new music from a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Songs wirelessly transferred from one Zune to another can only be played three times. After three days, the song expires — regardless of whether or not it has been played. Just playing half the song (or one minute, whichever comes first) counts as one “play.” You can never resend a song to the same friend, nor can a song received from someone else be passed on to a third person. These limitations apply to all files, including copyright-free self-recorded songs and similar.

The software that supports the Zune seems to be very unstable on some Microsoft Windows configurations

Unlike many similar players, the Zune cannot be used as an external hard drive.

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  1. Two behemoths fighting for market share will benefit everyone.

    Wow; Apple is now considered a “behemoth”? I think I like the sound of that! ;o)

    I read that the Zune is going to be selling for around $280 (at Walmart!); the iPod video sells for $249 at the Apple Store, so it’ll be interesting to see how the competition between the two shakes out, especially given some of the Zune’s limitations that we already know about, much less what we don’t.

    But the question that sticks in my head is whether MS will be making a dime on them. I seem to recall something about the XBox being sold at a horrendous loss, and the profit was to be made on the games. Similar market strategy here?

  2. just a little correction on that comment dave the zune sells for $250 (not 280) everywhere…(even walmart).

  3. looking at the zune….something about it is tempting for sure. but it’s just too flawed and too pricy right now to be worth it. if it was cheaper, i think people would go for it fast, and the sales could trump the lower cost. but right now…i don’t think so. it took time for apple to build their empire, and they’ve already got most of the kinks out. when zune improves, it will be serious competition

  4. i agree with most people that the zune is too pricy for its flaws. If it was cheaper alot more people would buy it no doubt.

  5. i agree with most people that the zune is too pricy for its flaws. If it was cheaper alot more people would buy it no doubt.

  6. Zune’s nuthin compared to da ipod. no external harddrive sucks!!!!!! Hope the next model iz better AND CHEAPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. My zune was 100 dollars at best buy and has no problems

    the file sending stuff was just made to be like a borowing feature

    30G for 100 dollars vs the 4G ipod nano for 150

    whose pricy now

  8. i am trying to decide between the two, and right now i’m thinking about the zune… the second generation… the prices are the same! and the styles are about the same… it is just your usage… so i don’t know!

  9. even though the ipod is getting more sales at the moment more people want them causing them to steal for it zunes arent that big right now so people won t steal them as much as they would steal the ipod.

  10. i have had both the zune and the ipod and like the zune a lot more. the am/fm radio did it for me and the price is alot better. i have had it over a year and the battery still works. can say the same for the ipod.

  11. to be honest, i dont know. i have had a sansa clip for about a year for football, but my sister droped it in the water. one of my cousins has a zune, and the other ipod. they both recemend what they have. i like my sansa alot, good sound, but still not sure. we have itunes, and i KNOW i can swithch them.

  12. i dont know why people keep on fighting on what one is better!!! i have a zune and my brother has an ipod and i think both are awsome. it just depends on what a person wants. if you like the ipod get the ipod if you like the zune get the zune

  13. Having a iphone, ipod and zune I want to make clear the distinct advantages between the zune and apple ipod and iphone, this is my (shortened) review:

    APPLE Hardware: I have the 8gb iphone and classic 30gb ipod. The ipods touch interface is really cool and fun to interact with. However, with no tactile feed back makes operating the ipod while not looking at it directly (driving or working) is rather clumsy adds quite a bit of frustration. This forces the user to stick with playlists to avoid looking at their ipod saying, “Great, where the hell am I?” Driving and trying to use the itouch and iphone is a disaster waiting to happen. Not to mention using the iphone as a mp3 player in the car with out being plugged into a constant power supply sucks battery life without mercy. The ipod expensive to buy considering the memory you get.

    Software: itunes works, does what is needed no real complaints except if I buy, I BUY, a song I want to use it however I want to even if that means burning it to a mp3 cd. This huge hang up on so called security is nothing more than a huge pain in the rear for legitimate users.

    Microsoft Hardware: I have the 30gb version. Where the zune shines is in the car. Operation with out directly looking at the zune is easy and the interface makes it impossible to get stuck into a corner. The navigation is easy and with only a glance you can see where you are and where your song is, without worry of a slight graze of your finger might take you elsewhere. Also sometimes I get tired of listening to the same songs while working out and sometimes want to listen to the news, here the zune has local raido pickup, very nice. Nothing compares my own opinion to the zune’s ability to sync with out being connected to your computer by using your home wireless network. The freedom of leaving my zune in my car (or another room) and add or delete songs, create or delete playlists even pictures and video is nothing less than a god sent. And battery life is rather good about 8 hours of constant play for mine. Best in price for the amount of memory.

    Software: Very easy user interface, the ability to jump to a song, album, or artist just by clicking any song, album, or artist in the list then typing in the first few letters removes the need to scroll for your song, cuts time searching drastically.

    Bonus: If you have a xbox 360 you can plug your zune into it and your 360 can use it to play songs. Very nice.

    In the end: The ipod is really cool in the field of user interface. It’s fun and enjoyable to use. That being said the iphone is second to none, so long as you can commit your full attention to it. Otherwise they both absolutely suck as mp3 players while driving, jogging, etc.

    Well, it seems my scheme of compacting my mp3 player and phone into one has failed. But I am happy with having both iphone and zune, I just don’t use the ipod option on my iphone and since I can make phone calls with my zune, neither have more power over the other.

  14. well, if u ask me, i think the zune is better! the zune just gives me a good feeling and the i-pod is good too but i definitely like the zune. from a scale 1 to 10, the zune is an 8-and-a-half, the i-pod is a 7-and-a-half. They both r good but creator of zunes, GOD BLESS U!

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