Apple iPod vs Microsoft Zune

The helpful comments I received on my Nikon D50 vs Canon 350d post, helped me chose my camera, the Canon 350d. The comments I received on my Nokia N70 vs Sony Ericsson W800i post helped me chose my W800i cellphone. Now the time has come for to pick a music player.

All I want for Christmas is a ….

A few months ago the decision as to what portable Music player I should get would probably have been pretty straight forward. I would have followed the masses of sheep and purchased an Apple iPod. Then a curve ball was thrown and the Microsoft Zune entered the market. The battle has begun…

Apple iPod vs Microsoft Zune

Is the Microsoft Zune a wannabe Apple iPod? Or is the Microsoft Zune the iPod killer?

There is lots of debate on this topic. Both players cost the same price, they both store 30gb, they weigh roughly the same, they look roughly the same, and they are about the same size. More specifically though, the battery life of the iPod is about 2 hours longer, and the Zune screen is slightly bigger. Hmmm… none of that helps me really in my decision making.

The Zune allows wireless song and picture sharing with other Zune Players, and it has an in-built radio. Now that helps! Wireless song and picture sharing could certainly come in handy, and I won’t have to fork out more money for an iPod radio extension piece.

What one must not forget about is the software debate between these Music Players. iTunes vs. Zune Software.

It doesn’t look like you can use the iTunes software with the Microsoft Zune? That would be quite a nice feature, and probably persuade a lot more ipod users to switch.

The Zune software can import all your purchased iTunes tracks though, all your playlists (except for the smart playlists), as well as all the ratings you have given each individual songs. This would help in the migration. The iTunes store does look a lot more slick though, more like a multimedia centre than the Zune’s web application look.

iTunes has about 3.5 million songs avaliable online, and sells videos, the Zune has around 2 million songs avaliable and does not currently sell videos. The Zune software is also supposed to be quite unstable with certain versions of Windows. Looks like Zune have to play catch up here.

A pro for Zune, and its software, is that its music playback is supposed to top the ipod’s. Its default equaliser settings supposedly sound fuller. Source: Gizmodo again.

Should the Zune play catch up before it is considered a viable alternative to the iPod? Or has it done enough to impress you?

I really want to hear your comments on this battle of portable music players. Who has got what? Are you happy with your iPod? What kind of iPod do you have? Help the millions like me to decide what to buy for Christmas.

At the moment, to be honest, I am siding with Apple and its iPod Nano. Should Microsoft rather have aimed at competing with this cheaper, smaller, more popular alternative?

36 responses

  1. Spare a thought for your content and how tightly you’re attached to it…with the Zune, all content is automatically DRM’ed. That includes anything you may have created yourself or that you may have received from somewhere else. That means you’ll be unable to do much with the content other than keep it on the Zune. You could argue that Apple is also into DRM with their Fairplay scheme, but at least that affects only the content you purchase via iTunes. You control CD’s you own an rip and no DRM is applied. This shouldn’t be read as a reason to support piracy, but goes towards the argument that your content (or content you have purchased) should be yours to manipulate legally – Microsoft is into managing rights to content you own. That’s not right and has further ramifications relating to privacy and fair use…

    In short: my opinion is that the iPod is cool, but has fewer features than the Zune. It depends what you want: a more open environment, or one that restricts you straight away.

  2. Good comment Manfred!

    Mark – dont you already have a nano? If it was my decision to make… I think I would go for the Zune, but only because I already have a nano and will rather have something different that just an upgrade to the iPod video.

  3. Manfred:
    Great thoughtful comment there. I did look into the DRM issue, and read a few articles on it. It looks like there are already ways to bypass the sharing DRM. But definitely another drawback of the Zune!

    I don’t have anything at the moment 🙁 I left my little 1gb transcend mp3 player at home. Doesn’t quite compare to the ipod or the zune though.

  4. I think it was the latest T3 mag that did a comparison on the two – the zune won by a very small margin.

    I think the biggest benefit of the zune is the wmv videos, which I think is probably in greater circulation than the MP4 that the Ipod uses. that being said, bigger screen and wireless is a bonus.

    I’m conflicted. I have a well serving 60Gb Photo Ipod, (buggers released the video one a month later) – I’d probably go for zune on the next upgrade.

  5. The wmv functionality of the Zune is another big plus, converting all your videos to MP4 for your ipod can get a better tedious I’m sure!

  6. Hey listen, you’re earning pounds now. Buy both. And give the crappier one as a present next year 🙂

  7. Mark, I’ve had the 30Gb Video iPod for some time now. I store a stack of videos, and maybe by luck, have never had to convert – if I’ve downloaded it’s often been from Google Video in which case you can download to MP4.

    I love it to bits – the accessories are helpful (e.g. Bose sound dock, Griffin car accessories, etc.) – not sure how much is available for the Zune yet.

    And then, well, it’s just iPod. It is instantly recognisable and has a distinctive female-attracting component to it. They love the scroll-wheel, apparently 🙂

    My 2c

  8. Good point Mike, the Zune is still very fresh, and lacking in the accessories department.
    The bose sound deck looks an awesome accessory to the ipod, and definitely something I’d want to get at a later stage. You can’t beat Bose for sound quality.

    Re: the scroll wheel: You learn new things everyday. Maybe I should test your theory before I buy one, I’ll borrow my brother’s ipod, whip it out on the underground, have a little play with the scroll wheel, and see what effect it has on the ladies.

    Wish me luck.

  9. I wouldn’t go near the Zune. The DRM is a big issue. Aside from the fact that the Zune adds DRM to everything it touches, whether you want it or not, the Zune will not work with Windows Media Player and neither will your Media Player library of music. The whole Zune ecosystem seems to be in a silo of its own.

    Sure iTunes uses its own flavour of DRM and you can’t use a device that doesn’t support that DRM with iTunes (namely, anything that isn’t an iPod) but at least iTunes is more flexible and the iPod basically owns the market. That isn’t to say that the Zune won’t be improved but given the choice there is no way I’d touch the Zune.

    If you are looking to buy, it is probably worth delaying the gift by a month or two. There could be a new iPod or super dooper iPhone in the works in early January so perhaps hold fire. If there is going to be a new iPod, it will probably be a whopper.

  10. One plus for the Zune is the upgradeable firmware. At least bugs can be fixed with a quick download and flash. It has done wonders for the Xbox.

  11. first of all let’s look in a more wider point of view as in brand.
    Apple has no problems with having to upgrade or virus on the their computers nor would it crash.[even if it did…it would be rare]
    PC [microsoft] has many problems once virus comes in, it screws it up. then you got to fix adding money to it.
    see where i’m coming from? although i’m comparing computers
    but in general i’m comparing 2 different companies.
    APPLE IS get an ipod
    i recently got one and it rocks.

    i don’t know if that helped at all..
    zune does not appeal to me either.

  12. Jordan Avatar

    the zune is an allover better product b/c the Apple iPod screws w/ ur computer and can make it crash like it did to mine…… nom im out 1500 dollars and im using my grandmas computer right now to right this and now that i have my Zune i just need 2 save up and get a new computer and hope that the Zune Software wont crash like iTune did

  13. I agree with all of you. there are draw backs to both the zune and the ipod.but lets face it…..the zune does look freakin sweet.its looks are way more clasier than just !BLACK! the zune though has the classic brown look. which i dont know about u guys but i think that brown is a great color for the zune. and who wants to watch videos on such a small screen(ipod). when you can watch it on a bigger screen(zune).

  14. i like the zune i mean, it doesnt hsve that synch up thing that deletes all your songs if you used aother computer. Not to mention the much larger screne the Zune has

  15. “Rush” i dont know what you are thinking saying that the zune looks clasier than a black video ipod. Apple practicaly invented classiness. The zune is bulky, ugly, and does not have half the capabilities that a ipod + itunes has. Microsoft will NEVER kill the ipod.

  16. “The bose sound deck looks an awesome accessory to the ipod, and definitely something I’d want to get at a later stage. You can’t beat Bose for sound quality.”

    Another Bose fanboy. Your last sentence is especially hilarious. You obviously know very little about quality sound.

  17. Zunes are cooler than the iPod, but the Zune software dosent offer video purchases. 🙁

  18. joel, in 5 more days, it WILL offer video purchases! : )

  19. Hmm…well Zune is clearly behind iPods inspite of having great hardware as of now.But there are certain qualities which will help Zune beat iPods eventually like
    1.Wi-fi—It rocks.Who know they can even add a web browser with next firmware upgrade!!
    2.Better sound quality according to most reviews.
    3.It’s not under dictator jobs control.:)

    I have one question:Can I sync back my songs from Zune to PC?And if I can sync back will the songs synced to my PC be DRMed?I don’t believe in online song purchases except in extreme cases.I buy my own cds/DVDs and then rip them for my personal usage.

    I dunno whats with MS they are trying to push DRM sh!t in everything Vista,zune and what not.Somebody tell them its good for no one.


  21. do yourself a favor hassan please get youself some good english tutions.

    this iPod(Zune) costs many price.head over to and search yourself.

  22. i purchased a zune a few weeks ago and i love it. it has a lot of cool features and acceseries now. I personally go for the best features for the money. The new one has touch sensitive buttons where you scroll up and down or left and right. Wirelessly sync it to your homenetwork is also a plus.

  23. i would go for a zune its got a bigger screen u can upgrade the firmware it has the radio u can watch the movies with it on a tilt and it is easyer to use

  24. iPod’s are better… the Zune looks cheap & tacky, plus Microsoft is usually rubbish anyway… apple kicks *ss! 🙂

  25. tha zune is great an i like betta than tha ipod i had. it mainly depends on one’s preferences

  26. Hi

    I am a music producer and DJ. Please check some HOT remixes on

    I would like to say that the moral of the story is that if these systems are for audio and media only and there is no transfer facilities (like bluetooth), then both these products wont live to see 2010.

    I think the cell phones will overtake these players eventually. There are too many benefits with Cell phones now.

    Sony Ericsson sold 60 million music-enabled phones last year and expects to overtake the iPod (70 million sold) this quarter, according to Miles Flint, its president. The blunt-speaking Flint queries how far he needs the music industry: “Our device does much more than play music. It is a phone, an email platform, a photo album, among other things. Giving others a share of it isn’t the way forward.”

  27. Andreas Avatar

    Well… Sony Ericsson’s phones are pure crap. That’s true. It’s like “Return of the zombiephone from yesteryear”. The Ericsson part of the company has always liked big clumpsy brick-designs. Nokia is a bit better when it comes to design, but not much. Even they (the worlds biggest cellphone company) are trying to cerate their own iPhone clone.

    The iPhone is the perfect fusion between a a MP3 player ans a cellphone.

  28. i dono i prefer a phone that can have more storage added as need be like with the new 16gig mem stick for sony phones like the w800i and sony has been releacing a new stick every year this year is 16 last year was 8 the year prior was 4 and so on the 32 has allready been made and works expect to see that next year… so with expantion like this on a music player that is also a phone and a video player and a pic viewer i think it is hard to argue that there will be any compition for the phone maker by mp3 makers ( iphone excluded ) all mp3 makers will soon drop there 2 function large media players and goto phones ( there will allways be a place for the under $100 media players though)

  29. so wait this is like a year and 1/2 later what did you end up getting?

  30. Hey Bonz, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO PUNCTUATION??? Do you have ANY clue how annoying that is? Your long post is so hard to read, that I’d like to hunt you down and punch you in the face.

  31. Now I am speaking dead honestly here. I have had an iPod for one year then I decided to try something new… zune. Right away I liked the zune better: bigger screen, ability to share music with others, way cheaper, radio, better sound quality, and a much easier library to work with rather than iTunes

  32. iPod TOUCH (or iPhone) wins! Avatar
    iPod TOUCH (or iPhone) wins!



    Anyways, iPod (Touch) wins.

  33. I don’t know much about the zune apart from the recent mass crash of them and it’s drm, but that was enough to convince me not to go any closer….

    The ipod I have works on both my windows and Linux machines perfectly…. I doubt the zune would play as nice

  34. See, the whole thing that keeps the iPod alive is… peer pressure. I mean, some of you know it. You bought an iPod because most of the people you know has one. I’m not saying the iPod isn’t good, in fact, it rocks. Just think about why are you buying this product. you should buy a music player just because someone you know has one, you should be looking at the functionality of the product, the sound quality, and its complatibility. I personally own a Zune, a black one with 16gigs of storage, and i think it is amazing. you can do quite a few thing you can do on it that you cant do on any other player.

  35. I prefer iPod touch, it has 8GB/16GB/32GB and who knows. maybe they’re adding more on the next upgrades. i have an iPod classic 120GB with that, i can put 100,000+songs. -im not saying Zune is bad. but compared to iPod, not that good-. now iPod comes in touch screen. what else u want? all the apps, internet, facebook, email and 25,000+apps(and counting).

    – i say iPod is better in many ways. = )

  36. Vinícius(brazil) Avatar

    Apple is still far ahead of Microsoft in relation to
    mobile devices, Steve Ballmer will have to run a lot for arrive to
    Steve Jobs

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