[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.