I own both an iPod and a Zune. I picked up the iPod first and because of that fact have built up a little collection of accessories that would make it hard on my wallet to switch my main mp3 player over to the Zune. Despite that, I’m still considering the swap. Let me tell you why. Before anyone comments on this, I am comparing the hard drive based players. The iPod Touch has a different interface and display than all the other iPods which would probably swing the score back in favor of the Apple device, but for me the lack of real storage space is a deal breaker. I’ve got over 30gb of music alone and for whatever reason, I want to have it all with me, all the time. Don’t know why… just because I can.
Device interface: While the interface on the iPod certainly gets the job done, anyone who’s used a Zune and is honest with themselves will likely admit that it does a better job of laying out the various kinds of media available on the device. Podcasts, Music, and Video are all easy to find and on both, but the Zune for me is easier to sort songs and navigate overall. Point: Zune
Display: No arguing the Zune has a larger display than the hd based iPods. The Zune also allows me to set any photo on the device as a background, which then shows up behind the top menu. When you start watching widescreen movies, the screen size disparity becomes even more apparent. Point: Zune
Video Playback: I may be alone in this, but I doubt it. My iPod chokes on the movies I’ve converted and added to it. It acts like it plays them, but nothing ever happens. I have to reset the device to get it to respond to inputs after attempting to watch a movie on it. I imagine this wouldn’t be an issue with videos bought from the iTunes Store, but I’m of a mind that if I own a movie on DVD, it’s not hurting the studios for me to rip it and watch a part of it on my iPod… it it would work that is. Podcasts from the iTunes Store don’t have this problem. Plus as mentioned above, widescreen movies are basically the size of postage stamps on the iPod thanks to the effect of letterboxing. The Zune on the other hand, has to this point played everything I’ve put on it. Sure sometimes the syncing can take a while because it’s basically converting the video to the native Zune file types, but the movies I’ve put on the iPod are converted specifically for it and it still chokes. Point: Zune
Niceties (IE: things you don’t notice till you use them for a bit): The iPod can keep track of what Podcasts you’ve watched and remove them from the device. The Zune can remember where you stopped the podcast on the PC, and resume from that point on the Zune. The Zune has an FM radio, for the times that there’s just nothing in your library you want to hear right now and maybe there’s something good on the radio moments. Scrolling through huge amounts of songs is easier on the Zune. Just hold down the button as opposed to circling madly with a finger. Both pop up the letters of the alphabet as you quickly scroll through large groups of titles. Point: Zune
Destktop Software: Here I’ve got to hand it to iTunes. (thank goodness, I was starting to feel bad about bashing the iPod) It’s easier to find things in the iTunes Store than it is in the Zune Marketplace. iTunes has more podcasts, more TV show, Movies, Music, basically more everything. And it’s easier to navigate. I waffle back and forth on which one I like better for navigating my media library. I can find what I’m looking for easily and quickly with both. Point: iPod
Syncing: Zune. Zune all the way. Aside from syncing the stopping point in the hour-long podcast I was listening to on the PC, I don’t have to eject the Zune. If I have a charging station the Zune will sync up wirelessly. Yes, wifi syncing works for me. I’ve never hooked up the Zune only to have it freeze my device. (I’ve never actually had to reset my zune. Yes, I’m aware of the irony) The Zune software gives me a sync status so I have a general idea how long the sync will take. Point: Zune
Aesthetics: iPod. The original Zune is fugly. The 2nd gen isn’t much better. Point: iPod
Accessories: Oh-my-god iPod. The iPod has so many car chargers, in-dash units, docks, stereos, battery powered speakers, FM transmitters, cases, covers, skins, you name it, it’s got it, probably from a dozen different manufacturers. The Zune on the other hand… well, Microsoft makes a couple accessories. It’s got an FM Transmitter, right? Right. Point: iPod
This post has gotten a little out of hand. I intended to write a short post outlining my thoughts on switching from my iPod to my Zune and almost ended up writing a full length article. I’m going to stop now and not even mention the wifi or social aspects of each player and go out and get the Zune Car Pack. Since really, it’s pretty much a landslide for the little mp3 player that could, but probably won’t.