MP3 Player Buying Guide – iPod vs. Zune – Comparing Price and Variety

Battle of the MP3 Players

In the mass market of MP3 players, the Apple iPod and the Microsoft Zune seem to be the only choices out there.

Sure, you could buy one of the no-name models, a generic MP3 player, but let’s be honest. Most people will end up buying one of these two major brands. Buying a generic MP3 player means having to do a lot of file conversion to get your songs on the player, and that is just an annoying, time consuming pain that most of us do not want to deal with.

The question is, which one is the best? For people already entrenched in the iPod or Zune camp, this is not really a question. However, the rest of us probably want to think about it before we go and shell out our hard-earned cash. In this piece, we will give a little bit of background on the two players and take a look at prices. Price is often the first factor for many consumers when buying electronics, so having a model that fits into your budget is imperative. As we move on in the series we will compare issues like file compatibility, music or video service attached to the player, secondary features on the players, durability, and design. For now, we meet the competitions.

The iPod was the first MP3 player out on the market. It is made by Apple (sometimes known as Mac), and it comes in an assortment of models, each of which varies in price. The iPods on the market currently include:

  • The iPod Shuffle at $49
  • The iPod Nano at $149
  • The iPod Mini at $249
  • The iPod Video (also called the iPod Classic) at $249
  • The iPod Touch at $299

The iPod has currently gone though several incarnations, called generations, of the product, each of which boasts either smaller size or more features to its name. The iPod moved into video with the introduction of the iPod Video, and three different current generation models of iPods now play both TV shows and feature films. The models each come in different sizes, and the variation in memory capacity may also cause a fluctuation in price. Certain models of iPods also come in one of six colors.

The Zune came to market quite a while after the iPod made its way onto the scene and hit record sales numbers. Made by Microsoft, the Zune comes in one model with four different sizes which range in memory capacity from 4 GB to 80 GB. In addition, there are a few different colors to choose from. Other than that, there is no appreciable difference between models which can range from $129 to $249 in price.

Newer Zunes have come up with a widening array of features, such as HD video viewing capabilities, intergrating with the Xbox 360 and Zune software that allows for a more visual music navigation.

At the end of round one, for price and variety, the Apple iPod is the leader. The variety of the different models available and the range in price means that there is a greater flexibility in your buying decision. With the lowest priced iPod running less than half of the cost of the least expensive Zune, you can have no fear when taking your iPod out of the house with you or allowing a child to use it.


The iPod Family
The Colors of Nano's
The Zune Family