The 30GB Zune:
Is It Still Worth Buying?

The 30GB Zune is a first generation Zune. It is the original Zune that was released in 2006.

It is both similar and different when compared to the current third generation Zune devices. It is officially discontinued however you can find it online if you look for it.

The question is - should you?

Zune 30 GB Digital Media Player (Brown)
Zune 30 GB (Brown)

I'll answer that question here.

But before we go any further, are you familiar with the features of a new Zune? If not, read this first.

Below I'll call out the differences between the Zune 80/120 and the Zune 30. If I don't mention something you read in features list link above, than you can assume that the 30GB Zune has it as well.


The Zune 30 is a hard-drive based Zune giving you 30GB of storage space. Compare this to the 80GB and 120GB of the latest hard-drive Zunes.

30GB is nothing to sneeze at since it can carry 7500 songs or 100 hours of video. This is like carrying 750 CDs in your pocket!

Do you have more than 750 CDs you need to be carrying around at all times?


It is 2.4 inches wide, 4.4 inches tall and 0.6 inches wide.

Newer Zune players are a little shorter and thinner. Sorry Zune 30, but they look better too.


The 30GB Zune weighs in 5.6 ounces.

This makes them 25% heavier than the new models. Definitely a major consideration for a portable device.


Its screen is 3 inches versus the 3.2 inches on new models. Of course When it comes to screens and video, the bigger the better.


The 30GB Zune is available in black, white, brown and several other limited edition colors. So you have a little more variety in theory when compared to the new models.

But in reality since the 30 GB Zune is discontinued it might be difficult to find the color you are looking for at a reasonable price.

Battery Life

The battery sucks big time on the Zune 30GB giving only 12 hours of audio. Compare this with 24 hours of battery life for the new models.

Video is slightly better at 3.5 hours versus 4 hours for new models.


The Zune 30 ships with a circular D-pad. Navigation on newer models is significantly better since they have a touch sensitive "Zune pad".


The Zune 30 GB only supports WMV format. Video in MPEG-4 or H.264 formats needs to transcoded by the Zune software to view them on the Zune 30.

Newer models support all three formats. Not a deal killer, but a little nicer as transcoding does take time.


The 30GB Zune can be upgraded with the latest firmware. This means a 30GB Zune will have all the features you get in a new Zune!

This is really cool for Microsoft to offer this update. It keeps people with older hardware from having to upgrade just to get the latest functionality.

It's the only reason why you would even consider a Zune 30GB.

And no, Apple does not do this for the iPod.


All Zune models have the same Wi-Fi support including the 30GB Zune. Just making sure you knew.

FM radio

All Zune models play FM radio as well.

Preloaded content

Minor point. The content that comes preloaded on the Zune 30GB is different from what is preloaded on the newer models.

Ok, that wasn't minor. More like miniscule. The size of a dust particle. Like anyone cares for the preloaded content.

Should you buy a Zune 30?

So far we have seen that the software features on a 30GB Zune are the same as the Zune 80/120. But the hardware on newer models is significantly improved.

So of course you should buy the newer model, right?

In most cases I would say yes, but here are some reasons you might think of getting the 30GB Zune instead.

  • You are ok with a heavier and bigger Zune. Perhaps as a second Zune you want to leave at the office.

  • You are fine with 30GB of storage and find a great deal online. But it would have to be a VERY good deal.

    Think of it like this. When you consider that a 80GB Zune is $229, that is $2.86 per GB of storage. So to be at par from just a price per GB point of view the Zune 30GB should be priced no more than $86.

    Also considering the hardware that you are sacrificing it would have to be significantly lower. It will be very difficult finding a new Zune 30 at such a low price.

  • You want a high capacity hard-drive based Zune but don't want to spend over $200. You can probably find a new Zune 30 for around $150 and a refurbished one for under $100.

  • You are a hard-core Zune fan and must have every Zune model! In this case the Zune 30GB also comes in several limited editions like the Halo 3 edition. Knock yourself out!

  • You just have to do the opposite of everyone else!

Next Steps...

Learn more about the 30 GB Zune.

Learn more about other hard-drive Zune models.

Learn more about flash-based Zune models.

The Zune HD is the PREMIUM Zune experience! Learn more about it here.

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