Zune's fascinating potential


Missing entirely is the ability for the device to operate as a hard disk. Also notably missing are some of the little extras that are attractive to some iPod users, such as games and the ability to use it as an alarm clock.

Perhaps the biggest irony of all is that, using iTunes 6.0 or higher, you can transfer your Microsoft Outlook contacts and calendar to an iPod. You can't do that with Microsoft's own Zune.

The media ecosystem

Like the Zune player, Zune Marketplace and the software that connects the device and the online store, are combinations of good, bad and indifferent. However, if you put together all three elements, Zune's promise becomes more obvious.

One major Zune Marketplace feature that iTunes doesn't have is a subscription-based service. Like iTunes, you can purchase music and download it to your Zune. But like subscription services such as Rhapsody and Napster, you also can pay about $15 a month and download all the music you want to your Zune. You can keep playing that music as long as you keep paying the monthly "rent."