On a daily walk to class, plenty of students can be spotted with an iPod. The hip, ubiquitous gadget is a staple of the music scene, but despite its record sales, it does have competition.
Microsoft recently released the Zune MP3 player to compete with Appleâ€™s iPod. The Zune, much like the iPod, is an MP3 player capable of playing music, viewing photos and watching videos. They are comparable units, boasting 30GB hard drives for $249.99.
Physically, Zune is very classy. It comes in black, brown and white, and feels sturdy like a real electronic, not a mere toy. Under the 3-inch LCD screen are all the buttons for the player. A back, play/pause, select and wheel button are all laid smoothly into the design. The earphones fit perfectly into your ear, causing no discomfort, and theyâ€™re even magnetic so they wonâ€™t get lost and are easier to store.
The Zune has all the features and accessories an iPod does, including speaker docks, car chargers, a remote and a home A/V pack that allows you to hook up your Zune to your television.
Being able to customize the Zune is a big selling point. There are multiple colors of leather cases for people to customize the look of the player, ranging from a stylish black to bright pink. The cases also come in different styles. Some just add visual appeal, while others have a flap that folds over the screen to protect it.
There are other cool features built into the player that the iPod doesnâ€™t have, says Appleton Best Buy employee Zach Michael.
â€œIt has a larger viewing screen that tilts sideways, and it has WiFi connection from Zune to Zune,â€ he said. â€œIt also has a built-in radio like most do now, but iPod owners have to purchase a $50 accessory.â€
Even with all the cool features the Zune possesses, it still hasnâ€™t reached iPod sales yet, according to Michael.
â€œThe iPod is still selling better, but the Zune is catching on,â€ he said. But itâ€™s so new to the market itâ€™s taking some time to reach the public. Everyone is still on the iPod fad.â€
While the Zune is catching up in popularity, some early adoptors of the player have already been enjoying the product.
Junior Amber Heinz likes having the Zune for her everyday workouts. â€œI also like to listen to it after my workouts when in the shower,â€ she said. â€œI plug in some computer speakers and listen to my favorite play list.â€
Other students like the Zune for its hardware capabilities and Windows operating base.
Junior Zack Michek has enjoyed his Zune for its ease of use.
â€œI really like how you can make the playlists in Windows Media Player and then put them right on the Zune,â€ he said. â€œ(The Zune marketplace) is easy to navigate and putting songs on the Zune are a cinch.â€
Michek also based his purchase on the fact that he doesnâ€™t like Apple products. â€œI wouldnâ€™t buy an iPod if it was the best product in the world,â€ he said.
The Zune and iPod offer about the same things for the same price. The Zune has a couple more features that may convince the customer to buy it. When asked about what he recommends consumers buy, Michael says he doesnâ€™t recommend either product.
â€œI try to determine which unit is better based on individuals needs, which player suits them,â€ he said.
He also mentioned that company preference comes into the equation of what player should be purchased.
â€œSome people donâ€™t like Apple, and some donâ€™t like Microsoft,â€ he said.
I point to the Zune as being the better MP3 player. Itâ€™s just small enough, has a sleek look and not everyone has one.
Reviewed by Louis Garcia, of the Advance Titan