Microsoft Zune HD vs. Apple iPod Touch Review

A close look at the Microsoft Zune HD and how it compares to the Apple iPod Touch.

Microsoft Zune HD
Microsoft Zune HD

   A good portable music player is not only a great personal entertainment device, it’s also essential to have one to use with your live band. You can use it for learning songs while your practice as well as using it to play break music at gigs. Today we’re going to take a look at the Microsoft Zune HD and how it compares to the Apple iPod Touch.

   The overall capacity of the two music players is relatively the same. The Zune HD is available in a 16GB and a 32GB model while the Ipod touch is available in an 8GB model, a 32GB model and a 64G model. Apple offers the Ipod in both smaller and larger models than the Zune, but I feel like the Zune hits a good midpoint. 16GB and 32GB both let you have a fair amount of music and video on your device. Apples 8GB model will only let you hold a few hours of music along with one or two full length videos. To be fair, I was somewhat disappointed that Microsoft didn’t have a larger size of the Zune HD available.  

   One of the main features the Zune HD brings to the portable music market is the addition of an HD Digital Radio. For those who don’t know, HD Digital Radio is broadcast in the same bands as AM and FM but it is a digital signal which takes much less bandwidth to broadcast. The main advantage to a digital signal is the overall sound quality. Having this addition to the Zune HD has gotten me back into listening to radio broadcasts and every time I am amazed by how much better it sounds than normal FM. The HD Digital Radio is one feature that the Ipod touch can’t compete with.

    The Ipod touch has a bigger screen than the Zune HD, but only by .2 of an inch. The Ipod’s display is 3.5 inches while the Zune HD’s measures 3.3 inches. But the big difference between the two is that the Zune has an OLED screen which offers a high definition look that’s crisper than anything you can find on the Ipod touch’s LCD screen. When I first took the Zune out of its package and watched the opening demo video I was stunned and now use that same demo video to prove my point to others. Even though the Ipod’s screen is bigger and has a higher resolution (480×320 compared to 480×272), the Zune’s OLED screen makes up for the difference and ultimately goes above and beyond the Ipod. Having a smaller screen also allows the Zune HD to be lighter and more compact than the Ipod touch.

    No matter how amazing a personal music player is, it does you no good if you constantly need to charge it. Apple states that the Ipod touch can run 30 hours of music and 6 hours of video. Microsoft states that the Zune HD can run 33 hours of music and 8 hours of video. The Zune’s OLED screen is a big contributor to the extra battery life as it is more power efficient than the Ipod’s LCD screen. This extra power allows you to pump the brightness up lets you to see the screen better. On my old Ipod and even my first generation Zune, I was constantly forced to drop the brightness to the low setting in order to save battery life. This made the screen very hard to read especially in sunlight. Being able to pump the Zune HD’s brightness up to max makes it a lot easier to view.

    While the Zune HD beats the Ipod touch in nearly every way, the one category the Ipod touch excels in is amount of applications available for use. If you buy the Zune HD for use of applications, you will be sorely disappointed as Microsoft currently does not allow third party publishing of applications for the device. While Apple has hundreds of downloadable applications available for the Ipod touch, the Zune is limited to the very few created by Microsoft. Although on the plus side of the Zune, all of Microsoft’s current applications are free.

    One more thing to note is that the Zune, like the iPod Touch, has an accelerometer which makes it tip sensitive. This allows a lot of gaming options as well as opening up more control with the user interface. With all of that being said, I recommend the Microsoft Zune HD for those searching for a great portable music player.
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Author: Live Musician Central

My name is Matt Rushton. I have been playing in bands for 27 years. I've been playing professionally for 21 years. I have opened for Sheryl Crow, Barenaked Ladies, Joan Jett, Little River Band, and Quiet Riot.

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