I have been the fortunate recipient of a gift, Microsoft's answer to the IPOD, the Zune. My Zune has 30GB of storage, which helps facilitate it video player. Along with a color video player that has excellent quality, the Zune also has all the normal music playing capabilities as the IPOD. It will display album covers, play many many hours of music without recharging. You can build play lists on your computer as well as on your device. There is also a Social function where you can share your Zune items with other Zune owners using built in wireless network. I haven't had much luck with it because at this point, there aren't many Zune owners. I also hold all of my pictures on my Zune which is very handy to have to show digital picture slide shows.
Two features that really add value for me is the ability to load movies onto your Zune, and being able to play your Zune through your car radio. To add video to your Zune, you must first by software that will convert your DVD to a format that can be loaded onto your Zune. I use Cucusoft which runs around $35.00 and well worth the money. It can take around 20 to 30 minutes to convert a DVD and place it on your Zune. I have done a little bit of traveling lately, and this has come in handy for passing air time.
The Zune works just like Itunes, but this is where the Zune starts declining in value. When you plug your device into your computer, your Zune window appears. This is where you manage your device, adding items to your collection or device, creating playlists, things like that. Once you need to log into to the Zune marketplace (where you actually buy and sample songs) it goes down hill. Logging in is the first problem. You log in and get an error saying that it was unable to log you in, but no reason is given. Then you spend lots of time online trying to figure out why. The answer is to just keep pressing the login button until it works. It is odd that such a bug exists at the most basic function, but it continues. Once you actually decide on a song a press buy, you are then faced with the same situation as the login, repeated failures for an unknown reason. Just keep pressing the Buy button and it will eventually work. It is like Microsoft wants to make it hard to get your money. The other issue is that if you have these problems and are trying to figure out how to fix it, the website offers the worst support links. They offer forums and no call number.
One more odd issue is that instead of showing dollar value for your purchases as Itunes does, Zune takes your dollar and converts it into 80 Zune credits. So when you see their songs are 79c, it really means it is 99 cents. It is done to give the appearance of being cheaper, but it is not. In fact, several songs are 99c, which means actually $1.25, whereas they would be .99 cents on Itunes.
While there are some issues, if you go into the Zune knowing how to work around them, I think the Zune is a wonderful product and I have enjoyed every minute of my ownership. I hope that they will come out with a Ishuffle like Zune device.