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 an old Zune. I think they are far better than Ipod. I am not able to view any movies on mine as the software is older, like 5 years!! That would come in handy while waiting at MD appts with a 4 year old!!!!

  • This would be a great gift for my husband. For his birthday, he got a picture of a Zune printed on a piece of paper with and IOU in the screen. His work has been cut back, so we weren’t able to buy it.

  • I would love to win this so that I could give it to my husband to take with him to Iraq when he goes again in Jan. He currently has an ipod shuffle and well lets face it its old.

  • My preteen would love this, she is jealous of her cousin who has an ipod! thanks for the chance to win!

  • I would love to win this. I have an iPod touch, but my 2 year old has taken it over. I might actually get to use this one if I hide it!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I have never owned a Zune and never heard of it until I got the feed freebies 4 mom on my facebook.
    Very cool, I would enjoy one.

  • this sounds great, i haven’t heard of this one, but would love one. Good luck everyone 🙂

  • I would love to win a new Zune. I am a freak for gadgets but gave up my disposable income last year when I decided to became a SAHM. A new toy for mommy would be just what the doctor ordered!!

  • Great informative artical about the Zune! I personally do not know anyone that has one, so it’s nice to get someones in-depth opinion. Thank you for sharing with all of us!

  • I have never heard of Zune but in your blog it sounds awesome. I would love to win and check it out for myself.Thanks and Good Luck to all!

  • Oh WOW how Beautifully Cool!! I love this! I bought my hubby an IPOD for Father’s day but have yet to get one for myself lol. 🙂 I would SO LOVE TO WIN!
    Thanks to Tech 4 Mommies and Microsoft for being so generous!

  • I need to win this so I can offer it as a prize to help the kids at school! This could really get their motivation up!!

  • i would love to win this zune as i dont have anything ‘mom-toy’ like this. thanks for the opportunity.

  • I would love to give this to my amazing little brother! He has been such a great friend to me. He is one of my best friends and is working very hard to buy one for himself! I wasnt able to get him a present for his birthday it would be awesome to present him with this :)Thanks!

  • this looks cool. not sure if I am going to keep it for myself if I win, or my husband – he deserves one. keeping fingers crossed….

  • I would looove to win one! I have an old 30GB one and the screen is getting messed up. Zune HD is so sexy! Plus, I love how it has wi-fi so I can update my social networks if I need to.


  • I would love to win a Zune! I’ve heard wonderful things about them. They look so fun and versatile. Plus I know I can count on anything made by Microsoft. My dad has always had Microsoft and has loved it, I guess that’s what made me choose Microsoft as well. ;D

  • I actually desperately need a zune.. I like to record myself reading out notes so I can listen to them as I am driving or exercising to get my studying done. I am a nursing student and will hopefully have my Bachelors degree in May. Considering my children hate to give me the time of day to study, this would come in handy! These are used for sooo many different reasons, not only for music people!

  • I have always wanted the Zune. I know people who Had the Ipod. and then went and got the Zune, and liked much better. No one in my family (myself, husband or 3 boys) has one. I think it would awesome to win the Zune for a family Christmas gift. Thank you!

  • I think a Zune would be great because I could use it to study for school while cleaning and running errands.

  • The new Zunes are awesome. I remember seeing them at CES in Jan. I guess there is a way not to stream your music from one WiFi device to another but I am not 100% sure how that works, you may need another app or adapter or something. Still dope.

    For those interested the HD radio is pretty cool. The HD does not stand for High Def like HD tv does, it stands for Hybrid Digital. Hybrid because it can seamlessly switch back and forth from analog and digital depending if you are in range of the digital broadcast or not. Digital is not like radio with static and interference. You either have it 100% or nothing at all. But the range of digital is limited so don’t expect to pic up those stations when you are out camping, it will typically be in the city when you are fairly close to the signal repeaters.

    I still like apple and iPods but the Zune HD is a pretty Bad A I must admit 🙂