Zune

The Good The Microsoft Zune has very good playback performance of audio, video, and photos; intuitive and colorful interface; good FM radio with RDS; works well with Zune Marketplace software; integrated wireless allows sharing of songs (limited) and photos; many accessories available at launch.

The Bad The Microsoft Zune is not backward compatible with WMA-DRM9; weak native video support (cannot play protected content) and no video offerings from Zune Marketplace; cannot be used as a hard drive (and no UMS support); proprietary USB; cannot use Wi-Fi to sync, stream, or purchase content; minimal bundled accessories; no podcast directory; maximum capacity is 30GB.

The Bottom Line The Microsoft Zune, with its intuitive interface and solid playback performance, will please most users. But lukewarm format support and the cool but limited Wi-Fi capability will have advanced users seeking more. The Zune is a very good start, though.

Editors' Rating
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 8.0
8.0 Overall

Compare

Zune (30GB, red)
Zune
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Samsung Gear IconX 2018
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SanDisk Clip Jam
Apple iPod Touch 2015 (16GB - space gray)
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Apple iPod Nano 2015 (16GB - blue)
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Price $280 Amazon Marketplace $187 Amazon.com $33 Amazon.com $200 Amazon.com $180 Amazon.com
Design
8
8
7
9
7
Features
8
8
7
8
6
Performance
8
...
7
9
7

Review

Zune

Editors' note: Microsoft provides a free firmware update for this older Zune model that adds many new features to the device. To learn about these new features, read our review of the third-generation Zune.

Earlier this year, the idea of a Microsoft-branded MP3 player was foreign to most consumers. After all, what could the software giant do to the iPod dynasty that Windows Media hardware partners such as Creative, iRiver, and Samsung had been unable to do? Well, we all knew that after Microsoft's September 14 announcement, the Zune would be a different kind of portable media player, one that integrates wireless technology for Zune-to-Zune sharing of files, and one that works within an iTunes-like closed Zune Marketplace ecosystem. The hard drive device, which comes in black, white, or the love-it/hate-it brown, has entered the real world and will please most users, especially beginners, thanks to an excellent UI, nice integration with Zune Marketplace software, and good playback performance. However, the Zune's incompatibility with some formats, including protected WMA-DRM9 and WMV files, will force some seasoned users elsewhere. Despite these fundamental weaknesses, the Zune is a winner and its future, one that should include expansion of its wireless features, is a bright one.

By now, we all know the basics of the Zune: it's a 30GB MP3 player with a photo- and video-friendly 3-inch (4:3) screen, and it costs $249.99. It runs on a customized version of Portable Media Center software (Windows CE-based) and features the same intuitive twist-navigation like players such as the Toshiba Gigabeat S. But there are many differences both in mind and body that differentiate the Zune from any other MP3 player, which I'll share in a moment.

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Specs / Prices

  • MSRP $250
  • Brand Microsoft
  • Type digital player
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Color red
  • Capacity 30 GB
  • Diagonal Size 3 m
  • Run Time (Up To) 14 hour(s)
  • Weight 5.64 oz
  • Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC, MP3, WMA
  • Installed Size 30 GB
  • Type LCD
  • Tuner Bands FM
See full specs
model 30GB, red

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