iPod v. Zune

With the official advent of the holiday shopping season, we continue to look at gadgets to make the yuletide season fun. The Apple iPod Classic vs Microsoft Zune 80 is the epic battle that pre-dates the Nook vs Kindle battle and therefore worth exploring.

The Apple iPod launched in 2001 and revolutionised the way we listened to music on a scale not seen since the introduction of the Sony Walkman. Finally, it was possible to transport your entire music library (or large portions of it) with you anywhere and everywhere. Sure, there were some limitations in format and access, but essentially, the MP3 player became the preferred portable entertainment devise.

As the Apple iPod (and its various incarnations) dominated the market, Microsoft made a play (no pun intended) for market share with the first generation Zune. A hit, it was not. With slick marketing and Microsoft backing, the heveyier less stylish Zune did find an audience, but the new Zune 80 has been redesigned for wider appeal. So, let’s break them down.

The Apple iPod Classic is a durable devise with sleek styling, long battery life and lots of support features like games, calendar, timers, contacts and a basic EQ to keep owners happy.

The Microsoft Zune has a bigger screen, built in Wi-Fi and FM radio. But the Zune pays for these features with a shorter battery life and bigger bulk.

Both players have restrictions on music format and access. The iPod/iTunes combo gives owners access to a wide library of songs, TV shows, movies, audio books and podcasts through a large relatively easy to navigate store. The Zune marketplace also offers access to songs, TV shows and movies, but access to audio books and podcasts are not supported.

One big drawback for me is the absence of cross compatibility; the Zune is not compatible on Mac systems, though the iPod works with both Windows and Mac.

With a longer product cycle, he iPod boasts a wider range of accessories, but Zune accessories will eventually catch up. Zune may also introduce options to its 80 GB player for persons interested in MP3 but not the US$250 price tag much as iPod users have the Mini, Nano and other cheaper options to the iPod Classic also priced at US$250.

Either player is an excellent choice, but for my money, the iPod still takes the lead.

Tech Time: Top 10 Gadgets for Christmas

Tech Time: Kindle vs Nook