Zune HD Draws Mixed Reviews

Microsoft's latest MP3 player hits with some, misses with others.

Paul McDougall, Editor At Large, InformationWeek

September 16, 2009

2 Min Read

Microsoft's new Zune HD high-definition video and music player drew mixed reviews on its first day on the market Tuesday. Fans liked Zune HD's crisp display and slick interface, while critics knocked its lack of applications, limited storage options, and incompatibility with certain platforms.

"Microsoft did an outstanding job with this media device," wrote Amazon member nighthawkn117, who said he found Zune HD's screen and interface superior to those found on Apple's iPod Touch. "The device is extremely light and very well built. Battery life is great as well," added the reviewer.

Another poster on Amazon, T.Nield, called Zune HD "just simply amazing." T.Nield liked the device's 720p HD output, on-demand music features, and advanced graphics capabilities courtesy of the built-in Nvidia Tegra chip. "Could this device take significant market share from Apple's iPod Touch?" wrote the reviewer. "Yes, it can," he said.

The reviews weren't all positive, however.

D. Frischling said he was "stunned" to find that the Zune HD software would not run on the 64-bit edition of Windows XP. "I suppose Microsoft finds it more important to try to force me to downgrade to Vista 64 instead of making me a happy customer," he wrote.

Another, Gadgetzrock, warned, "If you like apps, then stay away from Zune HD." Gadgetzrock slammed Microsoft for not opening the Zune HD platform to third-party developers like Apple does with the iPhone.

Others complained that even the 32GB Zune HD doesn't offer enough storage space for today's multimedia world.

Still, most users who reviewed Zune HD on Amazon.com liked the Zune, as 65% gave the product five out of five stars. Less than 10% awarded only one star, while the rest fell somewhere in between.

Microsoft formally unveiled Zune HD Tuesday. It features a touch-screen interface powered by organic, light-emitting diode (OLED) technology and Nvidia's Tegra HD graphics processor for fast action. It also includes a new Quickplay menu that puts consumers a click away from favorite tracks, videos, and other content, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft also launched a companion service that allows consumers to download HD movie files from the Zune marketplace for purchase or rent. The files can also be played on consumers' televisions or PC screens.

Microsoft is offering a 16GB version of Zune HD for $219 and a larger, platinum, 32GB edition that sells for $289. Both are available at online retailers and brick-and-mortar electronics shops.

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About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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