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 have to say I am amazed at technology now a days! Just last night I saw the new ipod nano 6th generation and it is smaller than the size of my palm! It’s crazy how in 20 years technology has improved. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like when my 2 year old is 16! I’m sure it’s going to cost an arm and a leg for an mp3 player then!

  • Wow! I had no idea! This is amazing!!! I would LOVE to own one of these! My old zune would get passed down to my 1st grader who’s been bugging for one! We travel a lot since we live 12 hours from our hometown! Zune is a great product!!!! I’m on my 2nd one (after dropping and stepping on my 1st!) – I will always come back to this product!!!!

  • Wow 🙂 I have an Ipod Nano and love it, but after reading this, I will (hopefully) be getting this new one and giving it to my son for his birthday in October. We figured he was old enough for his own MP3 player (he will be 15) and we were going to get him an Ipod shuffle….but after this post. We are thinking that the Zune might be a better choice. It would really make our day to win this one 🙂

  • I have a Zune and absolutely love it. The only problem is, my husband has stolen it from me. I really need to get him his own. This would be awesome.

  • I love that you do reviews on things I would never think about to try or research more on. I have enough that I have to do in a day, and its nice to ‘use’ someone elses work to get a better idea about something.
    Would love to have one. I’m the only one in the house without an ‘Ipod’ at all, lol. I’ve just been using Pandora on my phone! 🙂

  • Great offer. I just gave my middle daughter my old ipod (which was a hand me down from my husband) so I could really use a new one 🙂

  • My MP3 has recently gotten broken and I really have been wanting a Zune I think they seem like they are better than the IPODs. I hope I win the Zune 🙂

  • I’ve been looking at which mp3 player to buy recently and couldn’t decide between the Zune or the Ipod touch. This review really helps! I would love to win this prize to see for myself! 🙂

  • this would be nice for my son he never gets anything new like this he always makes trades with his friends at school and sometimes they don’t last long and he has not made a good deal thank you

  • Oh I so want this new Zune HD!!! I swear by the Zune products! I have an original Zune and it is awesome!

  • I hope I win the Zune!!! It would be awesome to work out with and to listen to on the long trips I take!!! Great give away!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Oh wow….this looks really neat! It would get a ton of use with the walking I do! I have chronic back pain and walking is good for me. And all the medical costs for hospital/ meds there is no room in the budget for an extra like this! So it would be awesome to win one! Thanks for all the information!

  • Would love to win! We don’t have anything like this at our house. This would be WONDERFUL! thanks!!! 🙂

  • This would be a fantastic prize for anyone. I dont have an Ipod myself but I see so many people with them. This looks even more amazing then the Ipod. This would be great to have on our six hour trips with my 1 year old grandson who loves music Its the only thing that calms his high pitched screams, haha Good luck everyone. Congrats to whoever wins.

  • I would LOVE to win this!!! My oldest son has one and for christmas I bought my youngest son one and it has not worked right from day one. So I had to mail it back to the manufacture and it has been MONTHS and we are still waiting for a new one. If I won this it would be just great for the both of us!!

  • Thank you for the information about the GUI. I love new toys and so does my son. He just received an apple ipod and would like more features on it. It sounds like the GUI really gives you more options and is family friendly. I would love to win this because I would be able to share it with my son and my daughter. Thank you for the opportunity.

  • WOW. I would love something like this. Not too savvy on the new techno stuff, but I have teens who would certainly enlighten me on how to use it….really cool…