Zune vs. iPod

Portable MP3 players have come a long way since their humble beginnings in the late 1990s. The
world’s first MP3 players, The Eiger Labs MPMan F10 and the Diamond Multimedia Rio PMP300 were shipped with 32 Mbytes of internal memory. MPEG Audio Layer III (MP3) the standard for audio compression that makes any music file smaller with little or no loss of sound quality redefined how music enjoyed and launched a new industry (Bellis). In October 1998, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that Diamond’s Rio PMP300 violated the 1992 Audio Home Recording Act. The Feds ruled in favor of Diamond, which paved the way for the development of the MP3 portable player market. Apple was one of the first companies to take advantage of this new industry when it developed and released the iPod. Microsoft entered the game in 2006 with its Zune. The iPods and the Zune are very popular MP3 players and are similar in features they offer. However, they are also very different. By discussing their Features, Ease of Use, and Synchronization software, I will compare them and discuss both types of MP3 players in some detail. I will then give my pick and my reasons why.

Ease of use is one of the most important selection criteria one must consider before purchasing a MP3 player. Apple’s 30GB iPod features a simplistic user interface called the click wheel. It allows the user to select, adjust the volume, pause, play, and seek music, videos, and podcast with just a thumb. Other then the click wheel there is a hold switch and an earphone jack that sits on top of the device. The 30GB iPod weights in at 4.8 oz, and the 2.4″ x0.4″ x4.1″ body makes the device easy to handle. In contrast, Microsoft’s Zune weighing 5.6 oz with a 4.3×2.5×0.7 body is a lot thicker, blockier, and heavier than the 30GB iPod. The Zune has no buttons on the sides, only a hold switch and an earphone jack on top, and a USB/accessories port on the bottom. The three control buttons are simple and are flush with the body. The heavier and bigger Zune does not fit as comfortably as the IPod and it is cumbersome to control.


5G iPod



Apple Computer, Inc.

Microsoft Corp.

Model #



Price range






interface(s) supported

Hi-Speed USB

Wi-Fi , Hi-Speed USB

Digital storage

Built-in 30 GB Hard disk drive

Built-in 30 GB Hard disk drive

supported digital audio standards

AAC , Apple Lossless , Audible , WAV , AIFF , MP3


Mfr estimated battery life

14 hour(s)

14 hour(s)

Battery Life Details

Digital playback 14 hour(s), Slideshows with music 4 hour(s), Video playback 3.5 hour(s)

Video playback 4 hour(s), Music playback (wireless on) 13 hour(s), Music playback (wireless off) 14 hour(s), Pictures 4 hour(s)

Service & support

1 year warranty

Info unavailable

Audio system built-in display



Diagonal size

2.5 in

3 in


320 x 240

320 x 240

Additional features

Notes, Calendar, Phone book, Hold button, Date display, Photo wallet, Built-in games, H.264 playback, Volume limiter, MPEG-4 playback, JPEG photo playback, Upgradeable firmware, USB 2.0 compatibility, Playback speed control, Rechargeable capability, Battery level indication

WMV playback, H.264 playback, MPEG-4 playback, Built-in FM radio, JPEG photo playback, Upgradeable firmware, USB 2.0 compatibility

Features are very important in a player and both the iPod and the Zune have what consumers are looking for, however they differ in a several ways. The 5G iPod has a bright 2.5-inch LCD display, a sleek design and 3.5-hour video battery life. The iPod supports gapless playback, an instant search feature, and enhanced games. Movies are available for purchase from the ITunes or sync with your own. The iPod has Notes, Calendar, and Phone book features and can synchronize with your calendar and or contact program. The iPod supports MPEG-4 and JPEG photo playback and can be used as an external hardrive. The iPod does not feature a built in FM Radio or Wi-Fi like the Zune. Microsoft’s Zune plays audio, and displays video and photos just like the iPod but sports an impressive 3-inch (4:3) screen. Unlike the iPod, the Zune offers a FM radio and Wi-Fi capabilities and works well with Microsoft’s Zune Marketplace software. The integrated wireless allows limited sharing of songs and photos. However, the Zune Marketplace does not offer video content and cannot play protected content. The Zune is not backward compatible with WMA-DRM9. Unlike the iPod, the Zune cannot be used as a hard drive.

Apple and Microsoft both have developed software that allows users to synchronize music to their players. Apple’s iTunes not only allows users to preview, purchase and download content but rip their current CD collection as well. Free podcasts on every topic from gardening to learning how to speak Spanish are offered on iTunes. In addition to music, iTunes also allows users to purchase games, movies, TV shows, and audio books and synchronize them to their IPods. iTunes helps organizes user’s audio and video libraries and play everything from your Mac or PC, Then synchronize it to your iPod to bring it along. iTunes is very easy to use and allows you to Burn your own custom CDs, iTunes is a free download from Apple.com. Like iTunes, Microsoft’s Zune Marketplace software allows you to purchase music and sync with your Zune. It allows you to synchronize your music, videos, and pictures to your device, and it allows you to sync up with an Xbox 360. You can Rip and burn CDs and create playlists just like iTunes. However, the Zune Marketplace software only works on windows and not MAC (Technical Specifications).

In conclusion, I like the 3″ screen of the Zune, the built in FM stereo, and Wi-Fi Features. however, I love the ease of use of the iPod and the fact it fits perfectly in the palm of my hand, it is easy to take out of my pocket, and adjust the volume or change tracks with just one hand. Apple has been in the industry since the beginning and has worked out the bugs of previous models. Over the last few years Microsoft’s has been trying catch up and the Zune and it has not been the “IPod killer” that it was billed to be. Ease of Use, seamless UI, and easy synchronization are the reason why I chose the iPod over the Zune. Even thought I like the big 3-inch display and the built in Wi-Fi. I will save my pennies for Apple’s next iPod release.

Works cited

Bellis, Mary. “The History of MP3.” About.com. About, Inc. 26 Mar 2007
< http://inventors.about.com/od/mstartinventions/a/MPThree.htm&gt;.

Download Itunes 7. Apple Inc. 2007. 25 March 2007 <http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/&gt;.

Technical Specifications. Microsoft Corporation 2007. 25 March 2007 <http://www.zune.net/en-us/meetzune/techspecs/software.htm&gt;.


6 thoughts on “Zune vs. iPod

  1. Amazing,

    I’m in Grade 11 English, and i had to write an essay on Salt vs Pepper.

    nothing… compared to yours.

    your essays are so flowing and … well … they sound GREAT!

    awesome work, good job.


  2. My mother asked me which I preferred between the iPod and a Zune. This really helps me in my desicion(sp?). Now I need to find which iPod will suit me the best…..

  3. Thanks for all of the info, in class I’m supposte to compare and contrast a : MICORST ZUNE PHONE & APPLE IPOD PHONE to see the differnces so thankss alot 🙂

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