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Zune HD Review

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Lets begin this review with the obvious question on most people's minds: Why would I buy a Zune HD over an iPod Touch? We'll get to the answer in a minute, but first the specs: The Zune HD sports a multitouch 3.3 inch OLED screen, 16-32GBs of storage, built-in HD radio tuning, 30+ hours of audio playback/8+ hours of video, and HDMI video out via an optional dock. More from this review after the jump.

Getting away from the iPod comparions for a bit, the media player experience on the Zune HD is pretty remarkable. The user interface combined with the Zune's stunning OLED screen is definitely a sight to behold and actually makes Apple's iPod UI look pretty sterile and uninspired. When it comes to navigating the interface, its pretty straightforward although it does take some getting used to.

Where the Zune really shines is media playback, couple this with their Zune Pass service and you have an experience that outclasses anything the folks in Cupertino currently offers on iTunes. If you don't know what Zune Pass is, its a $15 monthly music subscription that lets you download all the music you want as well as give you 10 free songs a month for you to keep. What really makes their service special is when you download an album you not only get the songs, you get the discography, pictures, band bio, and even related music recommendations.

As for Video, the Zune renders video beautifully and with the OLED screen colors are nothing but vivid and rich. One cool video feature is the ability to use an optional dock to output your video to a HDTV and be able to do it in 720p. We didn't get a chance to use this feature myself, though its a definite plus for anyone who wishes to play HD resolution Zune Video on their home TV.

Now on to a couple of features I didn't like: Internet Browsing and Zune Apps. Browsing the Internet is pretty lacking and while it does a decent job surfing the web, its nothing to write home about. Though we can imagine this is an easy fix with a simple software update. On the App side, there's really isn't anything to note here. As of this writing, only a handful of Apps are available and do a pretty poor job to really show what the Zune is capable of.

So would we recommend the Zune HD over an iPod Touch? Yes, but with some reservations. If you want to do more with your device than play music and videos, then we would have to recommend you get an iPod Touch with its unbeatable App Store. But if you're looking for a portable media player and a portable media player experience alone, the Zune HD does these things exceptionally well. And if that's all that matters to you, then yes, this is hands down the best media player experience you're going to get today.

Price: $220 for 16GB, $290 for 32GB

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