The age-old rivalry between the two iconic names of the North-American IT market, Apple and Microsoft, is quite well known. However, while we will certainly not try, in any way, to downplay Microsoft's merits in the software, hardware and entertainment segments, there are certain situations when the company from Redmond simply wanted to go for a segment where Apple was already well established, instead of creating a whole-new one from scratch.
One of the fields where Microsoft really played “I want one of those too” game was that of portable multimedia players. I mean sure, it has had a huge success with the Xbox gaming platform, but, unfortunately, it hasn't managed to attain the same level of success with its Zune, due to several reasons, one of the first ones being the rather poor initial implementation (the first Zunes, as some of you might remember, were only licensed Toshiba players).
However, Microsoft was not about to let Apple keep the upper hand on this segment and continued to push forward the Zune project. The latest iteration (the third, to be precise), dubbed the Zune HD, arrived on the market in mid-September, and, given its very cool features, might really pose a threat for Apple's iPod touch this Christmas shopping season.
We've had the chance to take the Zune HD for a spin, and, to tell you the truth, we came up with some mixed feelings at the other end. Sure, as far as a video player is concerned, the Zune HD is absolutely fantastic, its OLED screen and NVIDIA Tegra chip (yes, the Zune HD is one of the first devices to make use of the famous mobile platform) making a very good pair, while the GUI and the Zune PC software are also very impressive.
However, there were other parts of the Zune HD that left us a bit disappointed, since we were expecting a bit more from a device designed and developed by Microsoft. In any case, we won't go into any more details now, and move right on to the actual review.