In the continuation of this multi-part series comparing the Apple iPod with the Microsoft Zune, we take a look at device design. Which one is best for you?
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Round 2 in the iPod vs. Zune Showdown
Today's round in the iPod versus Zune comparison focuses on the design of the devices, and as you may have guessed, this is going to be a tricky one. The problem here primarily stems from the fact that the iPod has a variety of models available to the consumer.
In order to make this as fair as possible, we will begin with a description of each of the devices. Then we will compare the Zune to the iPod with similar features. By doing this we can be sure that the Zune gets a fair shake - well, as fair as possible.
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The iPod Shuffle is shaped like a small rectangle and has a built-in belt clip. Its main controls are a set of circular buttons which are used to adjust volume and allow you to move between songs. This model has no visual display.
The iPod Nano has a small display screen which allows you to watch videos. The controls are similar to that of a Shuffle.
The iPod Video, also known as the iPod Classic, is similar to the Nano but has a larger video screen. At first glance, the wheel seems the same as the one on the Nano and the Shuffle, but it is touch-sensitive. You can scroll through the stored items quickly.
The iPod Touch has a large display screen which interacts with your touch. There is only one button on the device. It brings you back to the main menu at anytime.
The Zune has a screen and one square button with controls for the volume and song navigation. The button is solid and is the only button of note on the main panel.
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Pros and Cons of the Models
The scroll wheel of the iPod Video/iPod Classic can be a little bit hard to master. Until you get the hang of it, you may overshoot your targets. Also, the screen on this model is smaller than that of the Zune by a small amount.
As for the Zune, the buttons have only a little bit of space between them, and it is easy to inadvertently turn the volume up when you are trying to forward a song. In addition, while the screen is larger than that of the iPod Video, its resolution is lower. The Zune's screen is smaller than an iPod Touch.
While the control sensitivity issue is a problem for both the Zune and the iPod Video, the majority of iPod models have no control problems to speak of. So, we'll declare iPod the clear victor in this subsection of device design.
In this case the Shuffle is out of the running, and we'll only compare video playing-models. The Zune is heavier than the Nano, but lighter than the Touch or Classic by a small amount so Zune wins this category.
The iPod has sleek, rounded corners while the Zune favors squared-off edges. However, the iPod is going to take this design category for one simple reason - they are distinct from a distance. You could easily mistake a Zune for another MP3 player or device, but the same is not true for an iPod. For standing out in the electronic crowd, the conceptual design award belongs to iPod.
At 2 to 1, the iPod's have won the device design category, and that now makes the overall tally at the end of round two: iPod-2 Zune-0.