Tom's Hardware's 2009 Gift Guide: Part 2, System Add-Ons

Media Player: Microsoft Zune HD 16GB

www.zune.net
$219
By: William Van Winkle

Perhaps you already caught our coverage of the Zune HD over in our Tom’s Guide holiday roundup. That was the fluffy (yet intellectually compelling) version. In case you missed it, here’s the short take: way better player than the original Zune. Sexy. Friendly. WiFi with a half-baked browser. More likely than Apple to leverage future cloud capabilities. Buy it, love it, give it a pet name.

Here on Tom’s Hardware, we need to deal with things from a more technical slant. If you want to know if and why the Zune HD has better audio output than its predecessor, I have nothing to tell you. It sounds great, just don’t ask me why. What I can tell you is why the Zune HD’s UI is so smooth and its video playback so much better than the iPod Touch: Tegra.

Buried behind Microsoft’s gorgeous 3.3" (480x272) OLED touchscreen sits Nvidia’s Tegra APX 2600 processor, a so-called computer-on-a-chip capable of groundbreaking 2D, 3D, HD video, and audio processing. Within the chip, manufactured on a 65nm fab process, are actually eight discrete processor cores, including the video engine and two ARM cores. With these, the Zune HD can flawlessly handle 720p encode and decode. Each core is independently power managed. In fact, Nvidia implements dynamic clock and voltage adjustment in the same vein as Intel's SpeedStep and similar power efficiency technologies. When a core is unneeded, it gets put to sleep, and well-planned power islands within the processor help reduce idle leakage. As a result, the new Zune can play back up to 10 hours of HD video on a single charge.

The Zune HD supports encode and decode for H.264 (baseline profile at 30 FPS), MPEG-4, VC-1/WMV-9, JPEG, and a range of audio formats, although not OGG or FLAC. Interestingly, the Tegra also supports image signal processing and support for up to 12MP camera input, so you might hazard a guess at one of the features laying in wait for future Zunes.

As for this Zune, you can’t go wrong with HD radio reception, the HDMI output dock is a decent optional add-on, and I remain a big fan of the Zune Pass subscription service: $14.99/month for unlimited streaming and music on your player plus 10 DRM-free downloads per month. Whether the Zune HD catches and surpasses the iPod touch will be a matter of personal taste. But if you’re not an iTunes addict, this unit is awfully hard to let go.

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    Top Comments
  • And here I was hoping we could all be mature enough to act normally if--gasp!--there are photos of a woman.

    ..sigh.
    14
  • Other Comments
  • ... interesting... it is very hard to read the descriptions or look on the products... i wonder why... [?]
    -3
  • That dress is cute!
    7
  • i need a napkin
    -5
  • presidenteodyi need a napkin


    o.k...
    6
  • And here I was hoping we could all be mature enough to act normally if--gasp!--there are photos of a woman.

    ..sigh.
    14
  • ok some troll went through all of our comments and by the way @presidentteody come on this is toms not fapfest 09 holiday edition! Leave the immaturity to the Apple fanboys!
    1
  • tomshardware, a forum for men.

    with heads below the belt
    2
  • "PC Power & Cooling (now owned by OCZ) is likely the most respected name in PC power supplies."

    Only if you've never heard of Corsair.
    1
  • was she really the best they could do?
    -17
  • oh my..i think i've been living in a hole or something. When i saw how they described the ZuneHD functionality, im horror struck! All in the small thing? even 10hrs ?? wow im amazed..
    1
  • +1 for using the same cute girl as last year (apparently your still together)
    0
  • gedoe_+1 for using the same cute girl as last year (apparently your still together)


    Hehe, last year Alicia, my wife, was in the gift guide. This year it's Sarah, who has done these since, I think, like 2005?
    6
  • The Lady Slayer"PC Power & Cooling (now owned by OCZ) is likely the most respected name in PC power supplies."Only if you've never heard of Corsair.


    Actually, Corsair is better only if you've never heard of PCP&C. Unless you need modular bling crap that shoot lasers and whatnot.
    0
  • Does the Dell U2410 monitor have an IPS panel?
    0
  • maybe im in the minority here but the girl just dosnt do that much for me. Dont get me wrong shes not ugly or anything but just not my cup of tea.

    As for the zune description....very impressive :)
    -10
  • Or you could get a 27 inch LG for 200 bucks cheaper.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824005127
    Tpk=W2753V%20PF
    -2
  • I was going to add $0.02 and make some lurid comment about wanting Sarah to pose with my USB stick so I could take pictures and post on the interwebs but then I noticed something.

    How many pictures did this poor girl have to pose for? By the end of the photoshoot did you at least get her drunk for her troubles?
    0
  • The Lady Slayer"PC Power & Cooling (now owned by OCZ) is likely the most respected name in PC power supplies."Only if you've never heard of Corsair.



    you're clearly a sad individual and dont know about real quality if you claim that Corsair is better than PC Power & cooling.
    -5
  • Actually, in the "low end" up to 850W Silencer series, Corsair and PC Power&Cooling uses the same parts look on reviews when they disassemble the PSUs both using Seasonic and Corsair is always cheaper so it is the way to go,I got a 850w 70amp/12v for the price of a 750 PC P&C and both offers 5 year of warranty. BUT if you want a 860w+ like the 1.2Kw PC Power&Cooling is the way to go(Better quality than the HX1000 from corsair) if you have the money. And the turbo cool series from PC P&C offers 7 years warranty.
    0
  • I forgot to add the fan on the Corsairs vs PC P&C Silencer series, the corsairs 140mm which is much quieter than the Silencer series.The Turbo cool from pc p&c is 860w+
    0