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Early glimpse at Zune HD: "better" than iPod touch

post #1 of 269
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Just a day after it was introduced, the Zune HD has been demonstrated live and is already generating buzz from at least one major blog that it could provide an experience superior to Apple's iPod touch.

The private demo of Microsoft's first touchscreen player at the D7 technology show on Thursday was characterized as particularly impressive.

Gizmodo's brief stint with the media player showed a refined device with an interface that would be very familiar to owners of the click pad-based Zune but, understandably, optimized for touch. Unlike Windows Mobile phones, which are forced to use slow and imprecise resistive touchscreens, the Zune HD has a capacitive touchscreen like the iPod touch and responds both quickly and accurately to finger input. These and the construction quality were enough to immediately surprise editor Brian Lam.

"The device is tighter and more physically beautiful than the iPod touch and it's got a better UI," he said. "The main menu's scrolling [is] so natural through the swipe gestures."

He also praised the more discreet yet easier to hit home button as well as its better responses to the accelerometer. Where the iPhone often lags slightly behind the user when rotating photos or the web browser, the Zune HD's response is almost instantaneous.

Some of Microsoft's most heavily promoted features haven't been shown, however, including its Internet Explorer web browser and HD Radio tuning. Also, it's deemed unlikely that Microsoft will ever have the app support Apple can claim for its iPod. Microsoft has made it clear the Zune won't have a smartphone-grade OS.



But while Microsoft has yet to lay all its cards on the table, the early positive reaction is a sharp contrast to the reaction Zunes have had so far in the market compared to the iPod touch. It wasn't until mid-2008 that the Redmond, Washington-based company had sold its 2 millionth Zune, and its revenue from the media players has dropped sharply enough that some have suggested the Zune might only live on through Microsoft's planned "Zune Mobile" software component for Windows Mobile phones. For now, Lam claims that only Microsoft's usual insistence on Windows-only support is likely to keep him from owning one himself.

"I would take this in a heartbeat, provided they get around to making a Mac client," he says.



post #2 of 269
While it's fun to point and laugh at MS products, it's good that they put something good out once in awhile. I eagerly await Apple's answer to this challenger.
post #3 of 269
Quite a few slow responses to menu selections and missed inputs in that video. While it looks like it is coming along well, it doesn't look finished by any means. I was going to rag on them for not fitting the "Marketplace" menu item on the screen, but it looks like it is actually part of the design to make it appear more edgy when you see what they do with the titles.

Even if it kicks butt, it won't do as well just because people don't trust Microsoft anymore. The more competition the better. Even Apple can get too complacent when they run away with a market.
post #4 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phone-UI-Guy View Post

Quite a few slow responses to menu selections and missed inputs in that video. While it looks like it is coming along well, it doesn't look finished by any means.

I agree with you, definitely still needs some work, but I actually like the UI. It's pretty cool indeed,but I had to really use it for a while to find out if it not only just looks cool, but is also intuitive and really easy to use.

Well, I just REALLY hope the new iPhone will go with OLED. This is a must in my eyes.
post #5 of 269
Does this Zune recognize leap year?
post #6 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


"I would take this in a heartbeat, provided they get around to making a Mac client."

I concur, though I can't see it happening for some reason...

IMPORTANT EDIT: A weird source (BT Wholesale Industry News) but the Zune HD is apparently not getting a UK release (which is a bit of a bugger). See here. Not sure how true it is, but it's the official BT website so they must have sources.
post #7 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerseymac View Post

Does this Zune recognize leap year?

It doesn't matter because 2008 is past and the world is going to end in 2012 (you know the Mayan calendar ends that year!)
post #8 of 269
Looks great. It looks very physically solid, and you can't go wrong with an OLED. I do hope that Apple introduces these into its products soon.

UI seems very responsive and slick. Some Zune competition will be great for Apple/iPod. This makes me even more excited for WWDC
post #9 of 269
It's funny that the home screen picture clearly shows a basic UI mistake, that the default items are clipped both along the right and along the bottom...
post #10 of 269
Seems like this is "good" only in that it's not complete crap like previous Zunes. I'd be surprised if most of its touted functionality actually worked like MS says.
post #11 of 269
Ok, this doesn't look bad, but I don't see anything that makes it "better" than the touch. Plus, we haven't even seen the 3rd gen touch yet so...
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post #12 of 269
This should make for some good competition for Apple. Which they haven't really had after Microsoft's Vista failed.

Still a little annoyed over that Mojave campaign.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobmarleypeople View Post

I concur, though I can't see it happening for some reason...

Hmm, I wonder why.
post #13 of 269
Screws on the back? Maybe the memory is held in place by nails.

Microsoft is with music/video players where Apple was with computers before the iMac. A niche player nibbling at the edges of a competitor who got marketshare early on. Apple eventually triumphed through creativity and quality, and by introducing new product categories (iPods and iPnone), though it has yet to dethrone M/S PCs in marketshare. Maybe M/S can do the same thing by keeping the Zune brand alive long enough to come up with some truly revolutionary new product line that can leverage its huge PC base.

But I doubt it.
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post #14 of 269
I looks good, it really does.

However, I love how the reviewer mentions the HD screen.

It ain't HD buddy!
post #15 of 269
You better like it! Or chairs will fly.

post #16 of 269
Microsoft's problem is that it has no mojo and never has. When people think of Microsoft they think old, stale, not cool. Maybe this gadget is as good as the reviewer says (I seriously doubt it) but there's an image problem. And having Uncle Fester (see what I mean) as the imperial leader doesn't help the image problem. Ballmer has about as much charisma as a dog turd.

Remember that the original Zune was declared to be THE iPod killer by all the M$ paid analysts and reviewers.
post #17 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woggledog View Post

I looks good, it really does.

However, I love how the reviewer mentions the HD screen.

It ain't HD buddy!

WORD! Was going to say the same thing. It's as HD as the iPhone screen only smaller.
post #18 of 269
We know why Microsoft released news of the Zune HD at this time.

It's to capture ANY buzz it can get before it gets crushed by what Apple has to offer very shortly.

Am I right or what? You know I am.
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post #19 of 269
The hardware itself is only a small part of what makes an iPod an iPod, so I'd say the jury is still out.
post #20 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinine View Post

Seems like this is "good" only in that it's not complete crap like previous Zunes. I'd be surprised if most of its touted functionality actually worked like MS says.

i guess that's one way to finally get some hype for microsoft products: lowered expectations!
post #21 of 269
It will sell more Zunes though, no matter how much "worse" a lot of the people on these forums think it is than the touch, and the next touch with OS 3.0.

So, if Microsoft wants to continue to dabble in this area, they at least are making marked improvements from the look of things.

Time will tell just how good this thing is, but it will generate more Zune sales just by the OLED wow factor for the average consumer.

BUT, an iPod is an iPod is an iPod. Few people go out and by an MP3 player anymore, they buy an iPod, even if it's made by Sandisk, Creative, etc. An MP3 player is an iPod. An iPod is an MP3 player. Like Kleenex isn't tissue paper anymore, it's KLEENEX. A XEROX copy, etc. A Zune IS an iPod. When a consumer goes to buy an an iPod, they look through all of the BRANDS of iPods and pick the one they like the most, or can afford. 70% of the time it's an ACTUAL iPod, but the great number of people still all call them iPods.

iPod has brand recognition far greater than the Zune or any other player, and I think it will stay that way for a long, long time.

Not too mention the whole ecological system Apple has created and will continue to expand upon, not the least of which is physical add-ons to the iPhone and touch.

Still, the best looking Zune so far.

Greg
post #22 of 269
Funny how our expectations are so low that when we see a product from Microsoft that isn't a train wreck we don't always know how to take it.

As nice as the Zune is the iPod Touch/App store combo is near unbeatable for my needs.
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post #23 of 269
Let this be known...

I saw the VIDEO and I was super impressed.

Microsoft if you are listening... Add a phone to this and you got yourself a winner.

The screen is drop dead gorgeous.

FLUID MOVEMENT!

the switching from portrait to landscape was fast - wow...


THIS IS A BEAUTY!

If this had a phone feature it would kill the iPhone iMO!
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post #24 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerseymac View Post

Does this Zune recognize leap year?

post #25 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by macFanDave View Post

It doesn't matter because 2008 is past and the world is going to end in 2012 (you know the Mayan calendar ends that year!)

Wrong, this is what happens when you believe everything you see on tv and dont do the research yourself.

The Mayan calendar does not really "end" in 2012, but rather, all the cycles turn over and start again, vibrating to a new era.
post #26 of 269
Can I get it in Brown??
post #27 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjs View Post

Can I get it in Brown??

Zune you will!
post #28 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

Screws on the back? Maybe the memory is held in place by nails.

Microsoft is with music/video players where Apple was with computers before the iMac. A niche player nibbling at the edges of a competitor who got marketshare early on. Apple eventually triumphed through creativity and quality, and by introducing new product categories (iPods and iPnone), though it has yet to dethrone M/S PCs in marketshare. Maybe M/S can do the same thing by keeping the Zune brand alive long enough to come up with some truly revolutionary new product line that can leverage its huge PC base.

But I doubt it.

I rather have screws than LIGHT LEAKS ON 80% OF iPhones because the gasket are not thick enough between the silver bezel and glass LOL!!!

I wont see the screws on back... YOU SURELY see the light leaks on an iPhone. LOL
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post #29 of 269
The people I know who have iPod Touches use it for their email, web browsing, and games in addition to the basic music and video duties. Kudos to Microsoft for making a tactile media player, but in what way does it even compete with the functionality provided by the App store?
post #30 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guartho View Post

While it's fun to point and laugh at MS products, it's good that they put something good out once in awhile. I eagerly await Apple's answer to this challenger.

Me too. I wonder what good all of Apple's multi-touch gestures did them as MS seems to have stolen all of them.

The UI actually looks kind of clunky, but usable. The physical device is ok enough for people to not really care about so much. It's really not a better looking product but they don't have to necessarily be better. In other words, cheaper goes a long way.
post #31 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

We know why Microsoft released news of the Zune HD at this time.

It's to capture ANY buzz it can get before it gets crushed by what Apple has to offer very shortly.

Am I right or what? You know I am.

Of course you are right. Its the same reason for the big Palm Pre artical(?) last week. They are all trying to get some buzz before the intro of the new iPhone because they'll be buried in the new iPhone media coverage avalanche.
post #32 of 269
The interface is too busy for my tastes. Much like Vista, it's meant to look flashy and edgy, but doesn't look all that usable in the long run. The weird fonts on the menu, while eye catching, would get pretty old after a short time.

That said, I hope the OLED screens catch on and come down in price.
post #33 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerseymac View Post

Does this Zune recognize leap year?

That was one problem... Talk about OS 2.0 release - total mess...

iPhone 2.2 should have 2.0 in everyones eye!


Its a glitch. Apple is not prone to them either. They had there fair share in 2008... MobileMe was a classic!
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post #34 of 269
Are those tri-wing screws? If so it means a user-replaceable battery, as long as you have the special screwdriver. But... screws?

And I love the sell job on the photos "...so you really get Hi-Def there..." Yeah - 4x3 photos on a 2" screen, asymmetrically pillarboxed and all.
post #35 of 269
The part where he rotates the Zune, while it is listing musics, and nothing happens, and then he rotates back is funny. Any iPod would bring CoverFlow, so perhaps that was in his mind .

The GUI seems simplistic and wrong. Those huge letters, I don't like them.

But it looks professional. The effect of rotating around the left side is nice.

A pity though that it doesn't show games, or other apps. Right now it shows that it can barely do what an iPod nano can do. And that ain't a lot.

But they still have time till the fall. They're aiming at the christmas. Wait and see, like the brits say.
post #36 of 269
"Also, it's deemed unlikely that Microsoft will ever have the app support Apple can claim for its iPod. "

Honestly, who cares? All but a couple dozen apps in the App Store are junk anyway. The last thing the Zune, iPod touch, or iPhone needs is a million fart apps, 99c games that are good for nothing other than saying "okay thats amusing", and all of the other useless junk currently in the App Store.

Pandora, Palringo, Skype, and a couple of games are all thats worth currently downloading or buying in the App Store. On my iPhone thats basically all I have. Nothing else is worth my time, money, or bandwidth.

So who really cares if the Zune never gets that kind of support?

However, MS has said this will integrate with the Xbox360. So far, the rumors have been spot on about this device.

If they continue to be true, such as it being NVIDA Tegra based (and the ability to output 720p supports this rumor), the Zune HD's gaming abilities will be far beyond what the iPhone and iPod touch can currently do.

Of course, the Zune HD has two things the iPhone and iPod touch will probably never have: wireless syncing and the ability to stream music over WiFi if you're a Zune Pass subscriber. Come on Apple, it's about time you give us the ability to pay a low monthly fee and get all the music we want!
post #37 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerseymac View Post

Does this Zune recognize leap year?

Yeah, but MS hasn't fix the Zune for the Y2K bug.
post #38 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woggledog View Post

However, I love how the reviewer mentions the HD screen

Where is an HD screen mentioned?
post #39 of 269
I'd say the accelerometer 'lag' is intentional to make sure you're actually intending to rotate the device, perhaps not though. Either way, Apple have plenty of time to counter the Zune if they wish...
post #40 of 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosx View Post

Of course, the Zune HD has two things the iPhone and iPod touch will probably never have: wireless syncing and the ability to stream music over WiFi if you're a Zune Pass subscriber. Come on Apple, it's about time you give us the ability to pay a low monthly fee and get all the music we want!

Yeah, cause all those subscription sites have really taken off. Amazon has taken a bigger share away from iTunes than all the subscription music-rental services combined.

And one of those useless apps, Simplify, allows me to stream music over WiFi and 3G from my main computer. So they are not all fart apps.
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