I commute a lot, mostly on the train, which explains why my need for entertainment on-the-go is a little bit on the extreme. Over years I used all kind of portable devices, from actual paper books (remember those?) to the wide range of media players and e-readers. Couple weeks ago I got a budget approved to get a new toy and was really torn between Ipod Touch and Zune HD. To the last minute I was hoping Zune will have application support, but alas. Evil Empire won - I gave up and went for Touch (kidding about empire... sort of). There is no shortage of reviews for Touch, but most written by Apple fan boys and have little to do with harsh reality, IMO, so I decided to write my impressions here. More or less unbiased I hope. Probably they will change over time, or may be not. I'll check this again in a year or so ;)
What I liked
- It is a Windows of media players - if you see something that can be sent to device, chances are it was designed and tested with Ipod in mind and will run with no issues. No need for codecs/drivers/converters etc. Always good to be de-facto the standard.
- UI looks nice, slick and polished. Intuitive and easy to use, no learning curve whatsoever.
- A lot of free stuff to play with and many nice useful apps, some also free. App store rules.
- Wi-Fi works great, can easily connect to any network either at home or public (if present, of course).
- Browser works pretty well, you can visit websites and read stuff (after magnifying to make them visible without using microscope).
- You can actually type, unlike on my Blackberry Flip where typing is awkward and painful.
- Feels fast and responsive, no hiccups or freezes.
- ITunes desktop client. I'm using it for years, and still can't stand it. May be its irrational feeling on my part, who knows…
- Watching videos is a waste. Talking heads do fine, but watch something meaningful is worst than buying a pirated copy of movie on VHS tape (not as I would know...). Don't understand people who subscribe to TV show to watch it on the phone/mini player, doesn't work for me at all. Laptop works great, even 6 inch DVD player does decent job. 3.5 inch screen, no matter how crystal clear display is, just way too small. Tried it several times and now back to old good portable DVD player.
- Can't justify it as gaming platform either, although I know many folks will disagree with me here. Still, gaming experience feels very restricted and dumbed down compared to console or PC. Size do matter. I hope I'll figure out later how to get most out of it.
- Development lock-in. Not going to buy a Mac to code for Touch. Although Monotouch makes it tempting... By the way, how shameful it is that we can’t use .NET on Zune HD but, with some restrictions, can write code for Ipod. Makes me sick :(
- Oddly, feels a little bulky and heavy compared to Zune (or Nano).
- Not a replacement for Kindle when it comes to book reading (excellent email reader though).
- When I listen to music and then stop and lock, after a while it starts playing again all by itself. Have to power off all the way. Could be a bug or, worse, a feature.
Conclusion: overall experience is very positive, especially if you don't fall into trap of believing that it is God's gift to humanity. Which is easy if you ever read vastly exaggerated reviews written by the "target audience". But when coming from position of healthy skepticism, it is a good polished mature portable device that you might enjoy using.