Tuesday, October 10, 2006, 04:00 pm PT (07:00 pm ET)
Briefly: Reflections on some time spent with ZuneAfter having run smack into a Zune beta tester, one AppleInsider correspondent recently had the opportunity to toy with a pre-production unit of the much-hyped iPod rival.
Though the correspondent's session ended abruptly (with the Zune's battery running out of juice), he found the device to be a viable attempt at the iPod with some glaring pitfalls.
Some key take-aways from the hands-on session with Zune follow:
The Zune's software interface is laid out in such a way that it prompts the user to make a selection from a vertically listed main menu. It then displays a horizontal menu across the top of the screen, which comes off as "a bit clunky."
Zune, which comes with 30GB of storage, will retail for $249.99 (about 99 cents more than the iPod) when it goes on sale Nov. 14. Similarly, songs will be available for download from Microsoft's Zune Marketplace service for about 99 cents a song, on par with prices at Apple's iTunes.
Although the iPod rival is somewhat bulky and lacking in appeal, analysts believe it is likely to see "some modest success" due to Microsoft's vast resources and its willingness to take a loss with each unit it sells. It's estimated the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant will incur an approximate $50 operating loss on each Zune.
Sources in the far east have indicated that Microsoft hopes to sell as many as 3 million of the devices between Nov. 14 and the time Christmas rolls around in late December.
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