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Old 04-14-2011, 05:07 PM
Uberman5000 Uberman5000 is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 69
Help Zune HD vs Philips GoGear Muse

So I'm in the market for a new video MP3 player soon, now that my beloved Zune 120 has bit it. I'm thinking of replacing it with the new Zune HD, and the 64GB model has really caught my attention.

Drop-dead gorgeous design, slick touchscreen interface, entirely stunning AMOLED screen, capability of playing neat games like Audiosurf, helpful apps like Facebook, Twitter, and an e-reader, and a serviceable (if spartan) web browser, and it can do everything my old Zune could, like play Audibles, output to a TV, and things like that. I've tried out one my friend has, and I'm in love with the design. It's the perfect size, with its 16:9 screen, it weighs almost nothing, and it's fun to use. Its lack of EQ options isn't a dealbreaker for me, because it still had the excellent SQ that I liked in my old 120.

But after doing a bit of research, I also came across this other device, a recent redesign of the Philips GoGear Muse:

I know, Philips is that "other" MP3 player that's always wallowed in obscure mediocrity, but this new Muse seems to have made great strides. It's got a 3.2" touchscreen, roughly comparable to the Zune's 3.3", it has way better file support than the Zune, better EQs, including Philips' venerable FullSound, a standard mini-USB hookup instead of Zune's funky proprietary thing, it comes with premium in-ear earbuds, it can play Audible, it has a text reader (almost like an e-reader), and best of all, it's got a microSD card slot and an HDMI-out! I don't have to buy a special dock for it, like the Zune, I can just hook it up with any HDMI cable I have sitting around.

Also, let's face it, the old Muse was a hideous gaudy plastic thing:

But the new Muse, with its stainless steel body (like the Zune HD's aluminum), is quite a looker. Its interface isn't quite as pretty as the Zune's, but having all my options on one screen, rather than having to scroll through them, is pretty nice:

The microSD card slot is very appealing, partly because my other MP3 player is a Sansa Clip+, and I use a 16GB microSD card with it to hold my music collection. If I can hot-swap between my Clip+ and the Muse, that means I can use the Muse's built-in memory for audiobooks, videos, and other things. The Muse also matches a lot of my Sansa's functionality, including EQs, drag and drop, external volume controls, and voice recording. My mother also has a recent-model GoGear Vibe which I've tried out, and though her taste in music sucks, I liked the way her music sounded with FullSound.

Another major consideration is price. To hold my entire music and video collection, I would need the 64GB, non-expandable Zune HD, which, if I look around a bit, I can probably get for $250 somewhere, not counting all the hoops I'd need to jump through to mail it to Canada. The Zune HD, on Amazon or eBay, is only available from resellers that won't ship here, so I would have to send it to a contact in the States, pay him to ship it here, hope it doesn't get lost or stolen, and THEN I would get it. I can get it more easily from Zune Originals, but it's more expensive there... which probably won't matter, if all the hoops I have to jump through to get it from eBay makes it not worth it. Even if I go cheaper and get the 32GB model, with a rotating video collection, The Muse, even though it maxes at 16GB, I can get that for as little as $125 on Amazon, and I can ship it right to my door. I like the idea of getting a lot for my money, and if I can get just as much for less money, that would be a plus.

Some drawbacks, though, and its mostly in the differences in design. The Zune HD has a much, much better interface. Besides its smooth, minimalist use of the Metro design language in its design and its great graphical performance thanks to nVidia Tegra, it's a lot easier to access everything, and though it lacks external volume controls, I can control it with swipes, rather than pokes, so I could switch songs and increase the volume without having to look at it. With the Muse, I'd probably have to take it out of my pocket and look at it to switch songs, which is rather annoying. The battery life on the Zune HD is also better, both audio and video. The Zune also has a lot of extra features, like Smart DJ and an increasing selection of useful apps, that would be pretty cool, but I don't know how much I would honestly use many of them.

The screen may also not be as good. At 3.2", 480x320 with its 16:10 ratio, and a 262K colours, it's about the same as my old Zune 120, which in 2007 might have looked pretty good. The Zune HD, though... AMOLED, and 16:9 aspect ratio, ideal for the extensive video viewing I would do on it. This might be worth paying the premium. Plus, the GoGear Muse is a teeny bit heavier with its stainless steel body (100g compared to 75g) and is a bit more of a brick. Might stand up to more abuse, in that case, but who knows?

Also, how easy is it to hook up an HDMI device to a TV that doesn't have HDMI? A lot of the TVs I could hook it up to just have composite AV, is it possible to convert HDMI to AV without much of a hassle? At least the Zune HD's dock, as pricey as it is, has a remote control and can hook up to component.

Still, all this is anecdotal, and they both have ups and downs. On one hand, the Philips, with its great file support, expandable memory, price, premium earbuds to go with its premium sound quality, and I can just plug a cable in it to display it in hi-def on a TV. On the other, the Zune HD, with its superlative design, brilliant interface, gorgeous screen, useful apps and internet features, extra features like SmartDJ and Quickplay, and better portability. Philips players have come a long way lately, but have they come far enough? What do you guys think, from real-world experience?

Last edited by Uberman5000; 04-14-2011 at 09:46 PM.
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