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

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
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.







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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 268
    guarthoguartho Posts: 1,208member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 268
    phone-ui-guyphone-ui-guy Posts: 1,018member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 268
    el3ktroel3ktro Posts: 52member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 268
    jerseymacjerseymac Posts: 408member
    Does this Zune recognize leap year?
  • Reply 5 of 268
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 268
    macfandavemacfandave Posts: 603member
    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!)
  • Reply 7 of 268
    acslater017acslater017 Posts: 424member
    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
  • Reply 8 of 268
    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...
  • Reply 9 of 268
    thininethinine Posts: 71member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 268
    dizzy13dizzy13 Posts: 67member
    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...
  • Reply 11 of 268
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 268
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,214member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 268
    I looks good, it really does.



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



    It ain't HD buddy!
  • Reply 14 of 268
    wayfarerwayfarer Posts: 21member
    You better like it! Or chairs will fly.



  • Reply 15 of 268
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,530member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 268
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 268
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 268
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,811member
    The hardware itself is only a small part of what makes an iPod an iPod, so I'd say the jury is still out.
  • Reply 19 of 268
    tofinotofino Posts: 697member
    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!
  • Reply 20 of 268
    gregoriusmgregoriusm Posts: 358member
    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
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