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Zune vs. Samsung

Can Microsoft's latest Zune MP3 players match the touch screen appeal of the Samsung YP-P2?

Welcome to my first post on the newly relaunched MP3 Insider blog. I'll be updating this blog regularly with MP3 player-related rants and predictions. If you're a fan of the MP3 Insider podcast I co-host with Jasmine France, you'll probably enjoy this blog as well. I wanted to start with something classy, but instead, let's get the ball rolling with a juicy product smackdown.

After having a day to reflect on Microsoft's latest Zune offering, I began to think that perhaps the iPod vs. Zune battle is a little too obvious. Whether the iPod's position at the top of the MP3 player food chain is deserved or not, history has shown us that it will likely stay there. The real question is, "As the holidays approach, which MP3 player will come in second place?"

When it comes to interface and killer features, the challenger that Microsoft should really keep an eye on is the yet-to-be-released Samsung YP-P2 I reported on back in August. Although Samsung hasn't released pricing information yet, things could really heat up if the YP-P2 can get close to the the $149 and $199 price points of the iPod Nano and Flash-based Zunes. Not only does the YP-P2 offer a 3-inch touch screen and built in Bluetooth, but it also has the advantage of not being Microsoft. Honestly, after Apple's successful "I'm a Mac" smear campaign, it's tough to convince people that Microsoft makes cool gear (unless you've got Halo 3 as bait).

We've been able to dig up two videos on YouTube that demonstrate the interface for both the Zune and Samsung YP-P2. To be fair, the Zune video shows a demonstration by a product rep, while the YP-P2 is handled by someone who seems barely familiar with the product. In my opinion, both interfaces look equally stunning. Still, here's the four questions that I can't shake:

1. Is there a way to pronounce the YP-P2 without saying "pee-pee"?

2. Which is more useful, the YP-P2's stereo Bluetooth transmission, or the Zune's wireless syncing capabilities?

3. Are touch screens really a superior interface, or has the iPhone hype simply created that impression?

4. Just how well does the new Zune handle podcasts?

I guess I'll just have to wait and see. Until then, I'll be studying these videos. Sound off in the Talkback section if you've already declared a winner.

Microsoft Zune 80GB

Samsung YP-P2