Zune HD Review
Sept 15th Release
The Zune HD is the latest generation of Zune, set to compete with the iPod Touch in every way. The HD is available with 16GB (black color) or 32GB (platinum color) of flash memory with a MSRP of $219 or $289. Zune Scene Goes hands on for this review.
Touch Display: The Zune HD sports a 3.3" wide aspect ratio OLED screen. You simply have to see it to appreciate how crisp and detailed images and videos appear. OLED technology is new and superior to the LCD screens used on other MP3 players, including the older Zunes, it also uses less battery power than LCD displays. The screen is touch sensitive of course and responds instantly to finger touches. It seems to be well tuned for sensitivity, only a mild touch is required. The screen result ion is not 720p but rather 480x272. The HD name comes from the fact the device can connect via a HDMI or component video dock and output a 720p signal.
This is usefully for those who do not own a blu-ray player, but want to watch HD videos.
User Interface: Zune HD uses the touchscreen for most interaction, however, there are three tactile buttons. On top of the device is a flush rectangular power button. On the upper left is a button that brings up volume controls, play/pause, and skip functions. The home button is large and trapeziodal. It sits at the base of the screen. The home button returns the user to the main menu during navigation. The Home screen main menu includes in this order: music, videos, pictures, radio, marketplace, social, internet, and settings.
Wifi : Full blown web browsing is available with the new Zune, along with the other typical Zune WiFi features such as wireless sync, and file sharing. The integrated web browser will flip horizontal if the Zune is rotated thanks to a tilt sensor. A soft touch QWERTY kepad can appear if the user desires to type while navigating the internet. The default search engine is Bing, however all sites such as google and yahoo can also be used.
Feel & Appearance: To get an idea of the size of the HD put a credit card in your hand, that is about the size of the screen with it's black border. It's thinner than most modern cell phones thanks to the use of flash memory rather than a hard drive. The platinum edition (as shown) has a modern industrial look with crisp lines and a brushed metal texture.
Media: The Zune Marketplace has a new section for apps. It's safe to assume Zune HD will have a good variety of games and applications as more apps become available. With 16GB-32GB of storage there is plenty of room for thousands of music files, HD videos, pictures, and programs. Another great things is the industry transition not non-protected files. This means files purchased on iTunes can be used with the Zune. However, the Zune marketplace is well integrated and recommended over iTunes for Zune owners.
Sound: The Zune HD dominates the in sound qaulity. An EQ with several presets is included. The audio output signal itself is vibrant, clear, and has no background hiss whatsoever.
Value: The Zune HD starts at $220 and quite simply has more features and functionality than any other player in that price range. A Zune vs iPod chart is available for line by line evaluation with iPod. The key features which set Zune apart are HD radio, HD video output, and the OLED screen.
Conclusion: The HD stacks up well against the iPod Touch and we are looking forward to spending lots of time with it. The touch interface is simple and intuituve, the feature list is outstanding. The only drawbacks we ran into are lack of mass storage (using Zune as hard drive) and lack of a custom EQ rather than presets. Fortunately that has not stopped us from falling in love.
Visit the Zune HD Dock Review