notes: is the zune HD not awesome at all?

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[opinion due to : Betanews – Zune HD: The best portable media player you may never buy ]

Like many other reviews have done before him, the author demonstrates real love for the Zune HD. He also stresses limitations – both artificial and real – which apparently translate to it being the device that nobody will ever find utility for. This is a tack that a lot of people have taken when it comes to this device. I completely disagree. The usual comparison is to the iPod Touch – which I think the HD was never a competitor for. The Touch focuses on gaming, apps, browsing – basically every single thing other than portable media playback. Speaking of which, most reviews are not terribly positive of the Touch’s media capabilities anyway. So if a player is launched with none of the above features, but with brilliant media capabilities – does it really become useless? So I can’t browse YT, I can’t perfectly sync my XBox with my HD, I can’t play a million-plus games. But wait, how far away are getting such features really? Mere firmware updates? Mere downloads? More importantly: are they really necessary for a PMP to be good at what it does? How often am I going to check email/sites on a PMP (which has only WiFi access – just like the Touch)? It is a misconception that if a player is sleek, big and touch-enabled it must be perfectly usable for browsing/internet. That is just wrong. That’s what smartphones/tablets/laptops are for. The Zune HD represents the true evolution of what media players are going to become – done well. Even considering Apple – why else would tech-blogs call for the retirement of the iPod classic, and an increase in storage for the iPod Touch?

I think when it comes to the Zune HD, M$ has just targeted a different market. To my knowledge the author is one of the few people who actually uses a Nokia N-series in the US – meaning he is actually conversant with the term: “true device integration”. For those who have simple phones and don’t know about integration (yes, lots of such people still exist, and especially so in the States) – the Zune HD offers a pretty awesome option. It is affordable, looks/feels beautiful, and has a very viable ecosystem which I am now convinced is a much better alternative to Apple’s. The large global market that M$ is not offering the Zune in currently – these are also places where the majority of the users have moved to device integration. I am not sure if a limited release is a bad thing necessarily; by the time it goes global it has a lot of chinks ironed out, lots of positive karma, more integration with M$ products etc. Even in device integrated markets, the Zune HD will then have an edge.

And remember M$ is in the process of opening stores. How long do you think people are going to go without knowing all about the HD? Before M$ makes it even easier for you to do everything in your home completely integrated with M$ products?

Not long at all.

Now if only some reviews would turn up that tell me more about the media capabilities of the player – audio quality, video fidelity etc. Funny how reviews of this PMP have not talked about that all.

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5 thoughts on “notes: is the zune HD not awesome at all?

  1. Rahul

    It is amazing how Apple manages to set the ground rules for all such debates.. i mean they come out with the ipod touch and now even a good media player isn’t good enough if it cannot do all that the touch does..lol..

  2. I really don’t know that much about the Zune. I’ve skimmed a few articles about them in the past and played around with one of the first versions for a few minutes once. I’ve never considered purchasing one. I’ve been using Macs for well over a decade now so the natural choice for me is something they make, particularly because other companies historically have provided shoddy functionality compared to their Windows versions. That and I’m much to lazy to learn another OS, buy new software, etc. As a side note, I did install Vista to run under Bootcamp. Who knows. I may get a copy of Win7.

    It is impressive, as Rahul states, how Apple can constantly keep Microsoft on its heels on media players, operating systems, “coolness.” etc. I suspect it will be a long time before MS can turn the tables, if ever. They seem to have established themselves, or allowed themselves to be established, as makers of products no one is ever excited about and people only grudgingly buy. I think that’s a tough image to beat.

  3. SEV

    I think Windows 7 is going to bring M$ back into the game – Apple is already trying to figure out how to get past the huge amount of positivity that M$ has generated for it.
    Most of the reason the Zune is being critiqued so is because there are no vocal M$ fanboys 🙂 Apple boys always literally glorify everything their company churns out no matter what it is. People use M$, depend on it completely, but complain about it, and make it seem like they’re only using it because they have to. If only they’d give up the pretense and accept that its the original OS that still works, is always being improved, and has always had max compatibility no matter what. I guess a lot of it stems from the image they got with being the virtual monopoly for a long long time.

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