Since Apple released the iPod touch in 2001, Microsoft has been struggling to keep up, releasing it's Zune personal media player in 2006. Since 2006, the devices' descendants have more or less kept pace with each other. Apple released the fourth-generation iPod touch in September 2010 and Microsoft released the seventh version of the Zune, known as Zune HD, in September 2009.
The battery life of any portable device is one of its most important features. Apple claims a fully-charged iPod touch will play music for 40 hours and video for 7 hours. According to Microsoft, Zune HD will play music for 33 hours and video for 8 1/2 hours. Independent tests by CNET more or less corroborate these numbers: just over 48 hours of audio and 8 hours of video for iPod touch, and nearly hours of audio and just under 9 hours of video for Zune HD.
IPod touch and Zune HD are nearly the same size physically. IPod touch is slightly wider and longer, as well as slightly thinner than Zune HD. IPod touch is slightly heavier at 3.56 oz than Zune HD, which weighs 2.6 oz.
The screen of iPod touch is slightly larger than the Zune HD screen, with a 3 1/2-inch diagonal length compared to Zune HD's just over 3-inch diagonal length. Additionally, the pixel resolution of iPod touch is greater than that of Zune HD, which means it provides greater image clarity and detail. The iPod touch display has a pixel resolution of 960 by 640, while the Zune HD's is 480 by 272. Both iPod touch and Zune HD have the ability to play videos through an external display, such as a television, using accessories sold separately.
IPod touch and Zune HD each feature multitouch screens and accelerometers. The devices use these features to facilitate user interaction; for example, automatically rotating an image or video if the device is flipped on its side. IPod touch has a built-in high definition video camera and a microphone; Zune HD has neither. This means that iPod touch has Voice over Internet Protocol and video conferencing capabilities that are not available on Zune HD. IPod touch also has a built-in speaker; Zune HD users must use headphones or external speakers to listen to the device. The only key feature Zune HD has that iPod touch does not is a built-in FM receiver.
Both iPod touch and Zune HD support MP3 and AAC audio formats. However, Zune HD also supports Microsoft's WMA format, including the WMA lossless format; iPod touch plays neither. IPod touch, on the other hand, supports AIFF, WAV and Apple lossless files; Zune HD does not. Each device supports the H.264 and MPEG-4 video codecs. However, Zune HD supports WMV files and the DVR-MS format; iPod touch does not. IPod touch also supports the M-JPEG video format, unlike Zune HD.
There are thousands of software applications and games available for iPod touch through Apple's App Store. Zune HD is far more limited in this regard, with only 6 applications and 16 games as of February 2011.
The storage capacity of a portable digital music player determines how much information the device can hold. IPod touch and Zune HD each have 64GB and 32GB versions available, however, Apple makes an 8GB version of iPod touch while Microsoft makes a 16GB version of Zune HD.
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