The Underdog

The extreme makeover of the software is something that makes me want to stick with my choice to choose the Microsoft competitor to the iPod.

Microsoft’s Zune has a long way to come before getting anywhere near its much sought after rival, Apple’s iPod. Granted that, I think it’s still an underdog worth fighting for… Well, maybe not fighting for, exactly; more like discussing.

Last week, Microsoft launched version 2.0 of its Zune line, along with a much-needed update to its music software, called Zune Marketplace – think iTunes. Both are very impressive, especially the latter, which now boasts the ability to download podcasts and music videos, somewhat of an old idea for Apple.

Why be so interested in something that’s not an iPod? I really don’t have a good answer. Maybe it’s the somewhat monopoly Apple has created on its amazing MP3 player line and I want any reason to jump ship and join something new, something that has potential (although I don’t even know if I was truly on the ship to begin with).

Before deciding on buying a Zune in January, I thought long and hard about the pros and cons of such a move: Why is a Zune even worth a glance? At the time, the Zune had the bigger screen (noted that the iPod Touch took over that point this fall), a FM radio, a customizable homepage, a glimmer of Wi-Fi ability and, one of the most important features, I wouldn’t have to spend hours converting all of my Windows Media music files into a form usable for iTunes.

Once again, after leaving my Zune on an airplane in Paris (and basically saying goodbye to “Zunique” forever), I’m once again in the situation of choosing between the Zune and the iPod. Granted, the stakes are a little different now: I’m already involved with Zune and making the change would still require a conversion of all my music files, and the iPod Touch was everything I wanted when I originally bought my Zune. However, with that said, the Zune has more going for it now. The new devices (now in 4GB, 8GB and 80GB versions) are nicer and a bit smaller. Plus, there’s still radio and now podcasts can be downloaded straight from Zune Marketplace. The only negative is that there still is no way to buy TV shows, like in iTunes. (Note: I really wanted an traveling video player too, along with a music player so this is a big point.)

Thus, I will continue to mull over the decision until next January, at which point I will be back in the States. But the question still remains, Zune or iPod?

Another reason for sticking with Zune is the software, which has a very neat full screen mode which displays random CD covers from your library.


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