Zune HD: A Platform Without A Purpose

Sep 27th, 2009 | By | Category: iPods & Portable Media Players

microsoft-zune-hdBetanews has published an interesting review of the new Zune HD, and it makes a great case for both the pros and cons of Microsoft’s latest attempt to match Apple’s iPod:

The Zune HD is perhaps the best portable media player released by any vendor — even better than iPod touch. Microsoft finally gamed Apple, with better design, better hardware components, more appropriate size and outstanding digital content consumption experience.

But Zune HD also is a platform without a purpose. It’s a single device in a multipurpose world. There isn’t much you can do with Zune HD other than watch movies or listen to music, and there is currently no ecosystem for extending Zune HD’s utility — nor is one visible in the distance.

Zune HD is a real heart breaker, because Microsoft otherwise has delivered something exceptional.

The review mirrors our thoughts from when Microsoft announced the Zune HD – that Microsoft was stuck in a rut trying to compete with Apple on Apple’s terms, instead of coming up with something really new.

It may be an incredible portable audio player – but dedicated portable audio players are a dying breed, aren’t they?

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10 Responses to “Zune HD: A Platform Without A Purpose”

  1. taylormarek says:

    Not this one. Can you see what this means for podcasting? You can walk around with it and not be glued to a computer or car listening, which is how its been since the beginning. Now to move on to streaming music/podcasts from the cloud, and this opens up alot more possibilities in our industry.

  2. Gorn says:

    It is really silly and not clever to state that Zune is a device with no purpose, sure you meant ts a device with no strong ecosystem that is up and running because our tech standards today have been drawn by apple and iphone in specific. But who said that Zune HD have to be follow IPhone step to step in order to succeed, it really doesnt. I just purchased Zune HD 32 of Best Buy last night for what it is and I did it knowingly that there is some other top of line mp3 player there like ITouch with plenty of apps but I just didnt need it it, as Zune HD was simply everything I personally wanted in mp3 player of today. Zune was never meant for productivity, it was always a headache less simple media device, rest the headache for Windows Mobile because thats the one to use for productivity. Again they are just taking different routes to business that’s all, its not that big of a deal. And whether new Zune will succeed or not we will shortly see

  3. ewill says:


    What made you choose it over an iPod, though? Seems to me like the iPod touch has everything the Zune HD has, plus a camera and decent web browsers and 80,000 applications.

    I’d have a hard time closing the door on all of those options.

  4. Andrew says:


    The Zune HD destroys the iPod touch in terms of media. There is no device that can match the Zunes media centric experience. Why would you use an iPod for video anyways? They’re just selling you on useless stuff.

    Written on my Zune HD

  5. Rob Greenlee says:

    James, I think your comments are off the mark about the Zune HD. Most of the reviewers agree that this is an outstanding portable media player and as you have even said, is an incredible player. It is more then just a great audio player and is also an outstanding video and HD radio player as well. I think the betanews poster you quote and yourself think Zune should just copy Apple in every aspect. Zune is charting its own path, but yet is working to catch-up to Apple in some areas and in other areas going beyond them. We all agree that more Apps would have been better for Zune and a large content catalog would help a lot. Not everyone wants a phone inside their portable media player and the Zune HD is a multi-functional device with HD radio, automatic wireless sync and HDMI media center like large screen HD video playback. it just does not mirror all the functional aspects of its competition.

  6. violetta says:

    I checked out the Zune HD over the weekend and it just wasn't calling out my name.

    I liked the Zune HD's animated interface and the hardware design seems petty solid.

    The HD out seems pretty worthless, though – it's like sneakernet all over again. And I can't see passing up Apple's app store.

  7. […] app selection is a bit wanting.  Zune Producer for Microsoft Rob Greenlee cops to that point in the comments of Podcasting News: “Most of the reviewers agree that this is an outstanding portable media player and as you have […]

  8. Dito on the app store, I don't even think it's sleek… but A for effort MS? I did take a peak at it yesterday, not impressed, but hey, I'm an Iphone/ipod/mac user so…

  9. Dubya says:

    i own the original zune and have watched it grow… and i definitly want the HD. As the article suggests, it is a music lovers dream… and cost effective per month. I think the HD’s price mark is at real issue though. . Being that MS is scrapping the other models and not breaking out internatioanlly. They should cut the price a bit more to bring in those “bandwagon” shoppers who are scared off by the lack of notoriety behind the zune. I can easily say i went against the grain by buying the zune because everyone in my house has an ipod or two or three. I don’t regret the experience… my music interest went up exponentially by the Zune Marketplace…People (particularly Ipod users) harp on the lack of app. But need we remind you all that neither did apple in the beginning? It will be there in time I have no doubt and being that I have a TOUCH in my household… alot of the apps are junk and the pain of finding the one you want?! Don’t get me started.
    Zune’s approach to things is different than Ipods, of course… but when you go head to head in music and video… no real contest.
    -software upgrade (for free) has always been a strong suit… i have no doubt they will have an upgrade for the browser… if that is your bag. expanded codecs as well…
    -the integra chipset is a sweet deal for MS… the possibilities are endless in terms of playback
    -microsoft will get back on top if they can keep the interface in their next projects…
    -wmv does sound better than aac and i don’t know why
    -i appreciate the utlitarian ability of the ipod touch… but i can easily use my phone
    -the software alone for the zune is more enjoyable than itunes (i believe spreadsheet has been a recent description of tunes. cover flow WAS cool but now its just a pain to fish through… i like how zune dedicates a PAGE to the artist and their albums.
    -while genious playlist is good… zune’s dj mix is better because it will mix not only the music in your collection but also stream in related music with you subscription…
    -zune does need to tighten up some software bugs but they aren’t major…
    -MS needs to kill the whole MS points system….

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