The battle between Microsoft and Apple spills over into the dedicated portable multimedia player sphere in the form of the Microsoft Zone and the Apple iPod. These two dedicated music players both offer tons of storage, support for a number of audio and video formats and a gorgeous screen for viewing album artwork, videos and more. But which is best for your money? This review will help you answer that question.
Price – Winner: Apple iPod
The Apple iPod Classic 160 GB edition costs $249 brand new. The Zune 120, on the other hand, can be bought for about $378 new. However, you can get a good deal on a used Zune 120 for $160, and a refurbished Zune 120 for $219.
Capacity – Winner: Apple iPod
No tech specs to delve into here—the Apple iPod’s 160 GB is simply greater than the Zune’s 120 GB of storage space. Still, once you get into the 100 GB range, you’re talking about a lot of space no matter how you slice it. Unless you have an absolutely voluminous music collection, both the Zune and the iPod will do right by you.
Screen Size – Winner: Microsoft Zune
The Apple iPod classic has a 2.5-inch screen while the Zune has a 3.2-inch screen. That’s less than an inch of difference, but it’s noticeably when you’re dealing with such a small device.It’s worth noting, however, that they have the exact same screen resolution of 320 x 240, so they should have comparable sharpness of picture.
Weight – Winner: Apple iPod
The Microsoft Zune weighs 12 ounces. That doesn’t seem like much until you compare it to the iPod Classic, which weighs a piddly 4.9 ounces. If size matters to you, go with the Apple iPod.
FM Radio Tuner – Winner: Microsoft Zune
No contest here—the Microsoft Zune has one, the Apple iPod Classic doesn’t. However, there are some iPod models that do have an FM tuner.
Audio Support – Winner: Zune
This may have been a dealbreaker for you, but both Zune and Apple both support MP3 and AAC.The Zune, however, supports .WMA while the iPod does not.
Wireless Sync – Winner: Microsoft Zune
As of the writing of this review, iTunes does not currently support wireless sync. Microsoft Zune, however, does. You can sync over WiFi simply by plugging your Zune into AC power and dragging and dropping files to it in Zune.
Software – Winner: Toss Up
Which do you like better: iTunes or Zune? Both serve the same purpose, both have integrated music stores, and both do an excellent job of incorporating artist info and album artwork. Before you buy a player, give both a try—they are free to download for use on your computer.
If you’re worried about what you can or can’t do with either of this MP3 players, there’s not much to quibble over. Both have excellent support for audio and video playback and both have impressive amounts of storage space. With the Apple iPod, you pay less and get more storage. But you lose out on wireless sync and an FM radio tuner. If those are important to you, get the Zune.