"Dependable Performer, Great Alternative to iPod"3.5 starson by davdaven
Pros: Easy-to-use interface, large display, FM radio, ability to add album art without marketplace account.
Cons: Average battery life, unnecessary scrolling required for main menu, screen dims too dark, limited video support, bloated Zune software is difficult to install.
Summary: Overall, I recommend the Zune as a capable, perhaps even better, alternative to the iPod Classic. I am very happy I opted for the Zune rather than the iPod Classic when it came time to replace my dead old iPod back in May.
The primary difference between the two, at the time, seemed to be the FM radio feature. As I later discovered, the Zune also allowed me to add album art without signing up for a marketplace account, which can't be said for the iPod and iTunes. Unfortunately, the Zune display dims rather darkly, making it difficult to see said art.
Initially, I got the impression that the Zune player was not as sturdy as the iPod. However, after more than 6 months of regular use I've determined that it is just as sturdy, and is actually less prone to scratches. (Although I've read that the new 120GB model has a glossy finish, so so much for that!)
My only big complaints are the lack of support for some video file types I have and the Zune software. The software quite literally takes forever to install, despite the fact it is a Microsoft program for a Microsoft product being installed on a Microsoft operating system. Once the painful installation process is over, though, the program seems slightly more agile than iTunes. (However, iTunes still has better playlist support.)
A final note on accessories: The iPod is still king, so there aren't nearly as many accessories for the Zune. When I initially went looking for a protective case, for example, all I could find were a couple moderately exensive items. I opted for a clear Belkin case that just isn't that good. However, I've recently noticed a few more options out there, so don't opt for the iPod just for the goodies!