The Best mp3 Player {Zune HD Review/Giveaway}

Have you ever heard of this little device called the iPod?  You may have heard mention of it once or twice.  What is not mentioned nearly as often is an mp3 player by Microsoft called the Zune.  Now, I know I’m SLIGHTLY biased, but I have mentioned that I have a iPod Nano, and I asked a few friends who have an iPod Touch some questions so I could give the Zune a very thorough review.

First, I downloaded and installed the Zune software.  Even if you don’t own a Zune, I completely recommend this software!  I downloaded and installed it before the Zune even came in the mail (come back on Wednesday for the full review of the software).  I also signed up for my Zune Pass.  There is a 15 day trial of the pass, and it is completely incredible.

The Zune software was able to grab all of my music from my iTunes library, I plugged my Zune in and was up and running in a jiffy.  I did have to recreate my playlists, so that was a bummer, but I needed to go through those anyway.  It even grabbed the podcast subscriptions I had!  Once it was all loaded up I was ready to play around with my new toy.

I hooked the Zune HD up to my home wifi network so that I could browse the Zune Marketplace.  The awesome thing about the Zune Marketplace is that you can stream an entirealbum, listen to the entire song to see if you like it and want to purchase it.  Or just stream an album that you like, that you haven’t gotten around to buying yet.  I’ve already discovered several new artists that I really like from suggestions in the Marketplace (and due to the fact I can listen to the whole song!)  Can you really figure out anything about a song from a 30 second clip?  I never could.  When you are browsing through the artists in the Marketplace, you can browse albums, songs, pictures, bio’s, and related artists (either similar in sound, someone that influenced the artist, or someone influenced by the artist).  This is a really great feature for discovering new artists that you will enjoy listening to.  The Marketplace also has apps, but there aren’t really a lot in there … YET!  I’m sure with Windows Phone 7 coming out soon the apps will get kicked up a notch.  I did load my two most important ones, Facebook & Twitter.  The other area where iPod beats out Zune is the addition of a camera.  Zune does not have a camera.

After I played with the Marketplace I checked out the radio features (which iPod Touch does NOT have).  This is where the Zune HD gets it’s HD part of the name.  Apparently there is now such a thing called HD radio.  I tuned to one of my favorite local radio stations.  I was greeted with familiar static and quality degradation as I moved the Zune around.  Then I selected the HD channel.  It was amazing.  The sound quality was awesome, and I moved the Zune around, sat on it, put it under my laptop (under all that electronic interference), and it still sounded crystal clear!

I watched a few podcasts, checked out the web browsing (over the wifi), and set my homepage to be an image of my kids.  So here is what I’ll say about the “GUI” (Graphical User Interface), it is so beautiful!  Seriously, the iPhone has been around for how long, and they haven’t had a major update to it’s GUI?  The wall of icons is outdated!  Give me access to the things I need quickly, and let me decide what the things I need quickly are.  For example, there are two main home areas.  You can swipe right or left to switch between the two.  The first one is the list of places to go (ie music, videos, pictures, etc).  The other home area is the one I use more, which is the customizable home screen.  The first item on the list is the “now playing” so you can easily go back to exactly where you were in whatever playlist or album you were listening to, even if it’s from the Marketplace.  Next is your “pins” which you can completely customize.  I have my most frequently used playlists pinned there, so as soon as I turn the device on I have ONE tap to get my favorite playlist started.  After your pins you will see a history, so if you recently played a podcast or a certain album that isn’t already pinned, you will find them quickly in the history section.  Last is the “new” section.  This will have all of the most recently added items to the device.

The last thing I’ll say about the user interface is I LOVE how it plays songs.  It displays pictures of the artist the song name as they scroll across the screen in fun patterns and directions!  Videos are crisp and clear and you can even plug it into your TV and get 720p HD!

Now that you know how much better a Zune HD is than an iPod, you completely want one, right?  Well the great news today is that Microsoft was generous enough not only to give me a Zune HD, but to let me give one away too!!  That’s right, this weeks giveaway (I hold a giveaway every Monday on awesome technology products) is a Zune HD.

To enter to win the Zune HD simply leave a comment on this post!  As always, there is only one entry allowed per person.  The giveaway will go through Sunday, Sept. 26th at 8 PM MST.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.



About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website


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  • I totally agree with this article on Zune. They are awesome!! I dont want one, I NEED one!! Please please send me one!!!

    • Please– Please—Please pick me . I would love to this Zune player to my husband. He will be turning 50 on the 26 of this month. What a excellent present it would make.

  • I have been wanting to get an mp3 player, but it’s a splurge we can’t afford. I would LOVE to win this and give it to my husband for his birthday coming up! 🙂 The Zune sounds incredible!

  • I would love to have a Zune. Everyone else in my family has an MP3 player except me…Moms are always last ! Thanks for giving me the chance to win one.

  • My son has been researching the Zune and Ipod for a long time and wants the Zune! Unfortunately there is no way I can afford one now, but he is saving for it. Would love to be able to win it for him since he has put in the time to figure out which one he wants and is saving toward it.

  • I would love to enjoy music on this as I only have my cd player I lug around.I’m retired and on a very limited budget and this is one luxury I just can’t afford.I’m late on the scene of techno stuff but I bet my kids would enjoy showing me how it works..Thanks for considering me

  • I don’t have an Ipod so I am sure that I would love this more than one..In your review it seems like it would be totally fit for me. It looks and sounds really great according to your review…

  • I love the Zune! My hubby has one of the original models when they first came out. I can’t recall how many gigs but it holds tons of music, videos, and pictures etc. I’d love my own. My son has a mp3 player and my daughter an ipod Nano.

    New follower from Twitter Moms!

  • My entire household, 4 children and 1 husband, has an iPod or MP3….EXCEPT FOR MOM!!! Why do us moms do that…I would love to have an electronic device that’s just mine like everyone in my house does 🙂 I would probably take longer walks too if I had some music to listen too….I would love to be chosen!

  • I would love to win this……I am so technology challenged. I dont have an mp3 or iPod…. I would love to come out of the Dark Ages!!!!!!!!

  • I would absolutely LOVE to win this!! I had an old Zune once and loved it!! Haven’t had a music player for a while and would love to go back with a Zune!! 🙂

  • Well my ipod’s hard drive went “kaput” a few weeks ago and it costs almost as much as a new one to fix it 🙁 Thanks for the info. And yes, of course I need one 🙂

  • I’ve used the Zune software and it is really easy to use and isn’t as proprietary as itunes.

  • I’m clueless over these types of electronic thinga-majigs! But I’d love to learn how to use this-looks like alot of fun!

  • I’m a huge fan of microsoft products. My husband has had his zune for 3 years now and has not had one problem with it, makes me jealous cus I want one of my own! I have an ipod nano that i’ve owned for 4 years but I need something new that holds more than 800 songs! The zune program you use to organize the songs and pictures for the zune is so easy! It makes itunes look quite sad. I recently lost my job and am expecting a baby any day so for me getting a new mp3 player of any sorts is out of the question for some time….

  • Wow I would absolutely love to win one. I have 4 kids and the closest thing I have for myself is my boom box…lol. It would be GREAT!!!

  • How cool is this! I wish I had one. Being a mom of almost two, I can see myself usnig this while laying in bed wishing for sleep. 🙂

  • My husband travels alot lately and I hope I can win one Zune mp3 player for him so that he will not feel bored waiting for flights.

    Thank you.

  • I had the original Zune 80gb and I ADORED it, until about a year ago when my 2 year old got her hands on it one too many times and it was toast. 🙁 I’ve never had the money to replace it (it was given to me as a gift.) Mommy wants her music back! Please consider me in you decision of the winner, thanks! 🙂

  • I love the Zune Mp3 players there are so nice my cousin has one i am so jeoulouse of her i wish i could buy one but money is really tight these day and I’m a huge fan of microsoft products

  • I have an IPOD shuffle, but after reading this article on the Zune, I would love to be converted! Well written article, BTW!

  • Totally would dig a new mp3 player!!! my poey ipod is dust… not old at all… guess you have to read the tiny fine print. thats why they have so many generations…. you can only charge them so many time!

  • What a great Christmas present for my kids…especially since we won’t have money for much this year!

  • My ipod got stolen. I have never used a Zune and would love to try it! Who knows, maybe this Apple lover will convert!!

  • I’m the mom of 5 kids ranging from 3 to 17! I am always running around crazy getting stuff done for my kids! My life is all about my kids! I always have to wait to get something for myself, I’m always last! I would love to be FIRST for once!! This Zune would be an awesome start!!