With Apple's iPod announcements largely out there, I thought it made sense to see how Microsoft's new Zune lineup stacks up.
The good news for Microsoft is that its Zunes are priced right in line with Apple's new iPod Nano and iPod Classic line. From either company, a 120GB hard drive player fetches $249, a 16GB flash model sells for $199, and an 8GB flash model will sell for $149.
The bad news is that once again, Apple has made life harder for Microsoft--adding features like voice recording and "shake to shuffle" to the Nano. Apple's "Genius" feature, while not as expansive as the Channels feature of the Zune, also gets Apple in on the auto-recommendation game.
Apple is also moving ahead on the video front, whereas the Zune didn't make any meaningful advance. The new iTunes features TV shows in HD and Apple is bringing back NBC, erasing the only real video advantage the Zune had.
And of course there is the iPod Touch. Microsoft has decided to ignore the Web browsing feature even though all its models have Wi-Fi. That means that at the lower end of the market Microsoft has an advantage, as all its models can now download songs over Wi-Fi. But at the high-end, Apple has a player that makes far more extensive use of the wireless connection.
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