Personally if you ask me, I like the Zune. The plastic casing is one of those faux leather ones that are soft to the touch and it feels good to hold. The double colors (i.e. brown with green inlay) gives off a really neat effect like photochromatic, but with only two colors. The size is actually not that bad. It looks big when you look at photos, but when you hold it in your hand it's actually really nice fitting (my hands are sorta big though). The 3" QVGA LCD is very clear and details are very nice on it. It's the same resolution (320x240) as the iPod's 2.4" screen, so it's not as clear in terms of clarity, but I would rather take the larger screen space considering the visual difference is hardly noticable. The UI is basically the Portable Media Center OS from the Toshiba Gigabeat (Toshiba manufactures the Zune too) but modified. It's intuitive, easy to use and if you ask me, it looks WAY better than the iPod's interface. It's also customizable, so if you want to use one of your vacation photos as your background, just apply it and DONE! The cool thing is the cross-action when skimming through music. Up and down moves the selector up and down, but right and left select artists, genre, playlists etc. This means that unlike the iPod's interface, you don't need to go back just to select between artists or songs. Handy indeed.
The controls and buttons aren't touch sensitive, but I prefer tactile buttons because you know they'll respond when touched. The circle is actually a directional pad with the select button in the middle and it's flanked by the play/pause button on the right and the back button on the left. Again, it's easy to use and there is virtually no learning curve at all unless you're stupid. Sound quality is like any other, it's good enough for the everyday listener. Videos are smooth and look great. The advantage the Zune has is that playback is very smooth and the transistion from menu to playing video is seamless, unlike the iPod which takes a few seconds to find and start the video. Radio is normal like any other radio, a feature that is often overlooked, but if you ask me it's definately a good feature considering Apple forces you to use a FM attachment instead. Radio recording isn't available (something Creative has had for ages), but I hope Microsoft will implement it in a future firmware update. The Zune's wireless capabilities are decent if you think about it considering how Microsoft is treading lightly in a media world ruled by the RIAA with an iron fist. There is no PC to Zune wireless synching or internet feeds etc. The wireless is purely ad hoc, or Zune to Zune. Music sharing is fairly easy and the waiting times really depend on the song's length. Microsoft has confirmed that Zune to Zune video sharing will be available in the future, so that's a good thing. The one catch about music sharing is that the recipient has only the ability to listen to the song three times for more than 30 seconds. If you don't, it'll automatically disable within three days. So this 3x3 rule is somewhat annoying, but you can't blame Microsoft considering how retarded the RIAA are these days (next thing you know, the RIAA will make you pay before you listen to any of your songs
Microsoft has done a great job presenting the Zune though. The box is clean and isn't too cluttered, but it still retains an attractive look to it. The accessory line that Microsoft has come out with is fairly impressive and you'll be pleased to find that third-party accessories like cases will be available. I've already seen some from Speck and some other companies that make items for the iPod and the Zune ones are very nice indeed. The Zune Marketplace is actually tied in with the Xbox Live Marketplace so all your points are used in one big system. The software is pretty nice, but I've heard that it's glitchy and resource hogging at times. It even crashes at some points. Of course, you can't really be suprised because it's only the beginning for the Zune. I'm sure the iTunes had it's fair share of glitches (iTunes 7...), so before you iPod fanboys start doing some tribal dance over it, just remember that it's only the beginning of the Zune. Products take time to grow, mature and evolve.