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<Review: Zune HD ⁄ >

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It's been a long, brown trip for the Zune: from its early days (mocked and abject) to its awkward years (deemed a dead end and money pit) it's been embattled and criticized, and rightly so. After all, here was an unpopular company with a frankly ridiculous brand it had pulled out of thin air, attempting to compete with the guys who defined the market. We've always been champions of the devices, despite their quirks, and of the service, despite its growing pains - and Microsoft occasionally made it pretty hard for us to stand by our favorite little misfit media player. Well, for once they just made it really easy.

Let's not beat around the bush, now: this thing is going head-on with the iPod touch, one of the most versatile and well-liked devices on the planet. There are other PMPs, sure, but the caliber of these two devices is well beyond the best offerings from Creative, Samsung, or Sony. To make it easy on the Apple fans who are impatient to comment on this story, let me just state it right now for the record: the Zune HD is not an iPod-killer, but it's the only player out there that can go up against it and not be annihilated in the process. It's good enough that everyone owes it to themselves to give it a look - unless you're afraid of just how good it might be.

Now let's take a look at this thing. This will be a long review, but at least we aren't splitting it into multiple pages like half those other sites.

The Hardware

I'd say that at this moment, the Zune HD is the best-looking media player on the market. It beats the iPod touch handily in terms of sheer sexiness, and it appears to hold its own in build quality and materials.

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