Ever since the first iPod came out in 2001, lots of companies have tried to mimic the system which had catapulted Apple in the forefront of the portable media player industry. But after almost six years, Apple and iPod have survived this onslaught of third party portables and continue to be the leaders in the market.
But last year, Zune came out. What in God’s name is a Zune? I don’t get the name either. Although, I can’t say that I’m surprised if you’re still not familiar with it, it was launched in the US in mid-November 2006. If you’re from UK, according to news and speculations, Zune will be introduced in the European market sometime at the end of 2007.
So what is a Zune? To make it short, Zune is Microsoft’s attempt to topple the iPod from its throne as the undisputed leader in the industry. It is a portable device capable of playing music files, display videos and images, has an FM tuner, and an incorporated WiFi technology which allows sharing of music and image files between two or more nearby Zunes.
When you get a glimpse of a unit, the first thing you’ll notice is the large screen. Measuring 3 inches, the LCD display of a Zune unit is larger by half an inch of that of an iPod’s. The Zune is also taller and thicker, probably because of the larger screen and the components for the WiFi technology inside. But this screen and two other features seem to be the only things that come close to being remarkable in Microsoft’s Zune and the only things that set it apart from an iPod. The other two are the WiFi technology and the FM radio tuner. Everything else seems to fall short. Let’s start comparing the two.
Zune comes in a 30 gigabytes model, while Apple has already started offering the market with 60GB and 80GB iPods. Zune’s online music store, Zune Marketplace, is only limited to providing music files while iTunes is able to offer clients with videos, Hollywood movies, podcasts, audio books, games, album art downloads, to name a few. Moreover, the Zune Marketplace’s selection of songs is still very few compared to the collection found in iTunes. And even the WiFi system, if you look at it closely, is not that practical since it can only be used for Zune to Zune wireless music transfers.
Although, Microsoft did promise to release subsequent models of Zune, so most likely the later models would be better equipped to battle iPod in an equal footing. But for now, I will stick with my iPod.