World of Zune

Zune HD 32GB



The Zune HD 32GB is one of two Zune HD models and forms one-half of the high-end Zune experience. The other one is the Zune HD 16GB.

The iPod Touch is it's major competitor in the high-end digital media player category. At $295, an equivalent 32GB iPod Touch is $5 more than it's Zune HD counterpart which costs $290. So price is not a major differentiator. (Of course, these are list prices. Buy online and receive significant discounts off of list price.)

With the 32GB Zune HD, you get all the Zune features you're used to with the older Zune mp3 players — like Wi-Fi and the incredible Zune pass music subscription service.

But with the Zune HD, Microsoft has really kicked it up a couple of notches. There are seven major features which sets the Zune HD 32GB apart from other Zune models and the iPod Touch.

Touchscreen

The Zune HD 32 GB offers a crystal clear 3.3 inch OLED touchscreen, a significant improvement from the LCD screen available on older Zune models as well as the iPod. Before the Zune HD, the largest screen size you could get on an a Zune was 3.2 inches. However, the iPod touch has a slightly larger 3.5 inch screen.

OLED is the cutting edge screen technology due to the vibrant colors it delivers. It's much better than an LCD screen. You really have to see it to believe it.

In addition, the Zune HD supports 16:9 widescreen format at 480 x 272 resolution. Note that this is not HD resolution, more on this below.

HD compatible video

Did you notice that I said compatible? This is because the Zune HD 32 GB cannot display true HD resolution on it's own screen. Instead it will downscale any video that is in HD to 480 x 272 resolution.

Can you tell the on-screen video is not HD? I certainly can't. Maybe it's the magic of the OLED screen.

Now, Microsoft isn't lying. The Zune HD can output 720p HD resolution (1280 x 720). However, it needs an external HDTV and an optional Zune HD AV Dock to accomplish this feat.

The iPod Touch cannot play HD video. iTunes will convert any HD content to SD before syncing it.

HD Radio

The Zune HD 32 GB is equipped with an HD radio tuner. An HD radio is a significant improvement over FM radio. You get CD quality audio without having to pay for XM satellite radio.

Most metro areas nowadays have a plethora of HD radio stations to choose from. Use this guide to see which stations are available in your area.

And song tagging is supported. So if you hear a song you like, just tag it and download it later on from the Zune Marketplace. If you have the Zune pass, you won't even have to pay for it!

A special note for Canadians — HD radio is not currently available in Canada. Sorry!

The iPod Touch does not have an HD radio. Actually, it doesn't even have an FM radio.

Internet Browsing

The Zune HD 32GB introduces internet browsing to the Zune lineup. And it's about time! With a custom version of Internet Explorer Mobile, the Zune HD allows you to browse your favorite websites over Wi-Fi.

Touch gestures allow you to pan and zoom with your fingers. And a full QWERTY keyboard is included.

Note that flash video support is still not available so you won't be able to view Youtube videos natively. Use these workarounds instead.

The iPod Touch has equivalent or better internet browsing support with it's Safari browser.

Games & Apps

Finally gaming is a first class citizen on the Zune with the Zune HD 32GB. You can download free games from the Zune Marketplace. These games work only on the Zune HD and not on any of the older Zune mp3 players.

Applications are also available. Currently there are only three applications — a calculator, a piano and a weather app -- but more apps will continue to be added.

The Zune HD has a built-in accelerometer which adds another dimension to game play.

The iPod Touch has an accelerometer as well. And the thousands of games and apps in the App Store makes it far superior in this area. The Zune HD will take a long time to catch up.

Well, at least the Zune apps and games are free! :)

Quickplay

This is a new screen added to the Zune HD 32GB and also to the new Zune version 4.0 software. I like to think of it as a set of bookmarks.

It gives quick access to newly synced items and history. This is super convenient if you have a Zune pass (which you do) and you download a lot of music (which you will).

It also has a new feature called "Pins". Pins are basically your favorites. Pin an a song, album or video to your quickplay screen for quick play. Hey, that's why it's called quick play! :)

The iPod Touch does not have a quick play screen.

Movie Rental

The Zune Marketplace now has movies for rent, just like iTunes. But movie rental is available only for Zune HD owners. Movies are available in both HD and SD format.

If you own an older Zune mp3 player, you can still rent movies. You just won't be able to sync them to your Zune and you'll have to watch them on your PC.

The iPod Touch supports movie rental from iTunes. However, the iPod Touch is unable to play movies in HD format. Movies will be converted to SD during the sync process.

Still not sure if you should buy a Zune HD 32GB or an iPod Touch 32GB? Maybe this Zune HD vs iPod Touch comparison will help.

Best price on the Zune HD 32GB




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