Ars Technica Reviews the Zune HD
"Despite the software’s attractive design, it might also serve as a case study for just how hard it is to nail interface design on a first pass. Moving around in the interface takes a bit of getting used to; for instance, there’s no single way to back out of the menu hierarchy. When viewing the details of an album, backing up requires a press on a white arrow in the upper left corner of the screen. Clear enough. But when you bring up the special player-wide control screen (triggered by that button on the left side of the device) to adjust volume or to pause playback, backing out involves tapping the tiny word “exit” in the upper left. ... Do we need four slightly different ways to accomplish the same thing?"
By now you've probably read a ton of reviews of Zune HD, and have essentially made up your mind about if, or when, you plan on buying one. What makes this review different (and what I love about most Ars reviews in general) is that they explore the device in context of its ecosystem and competition. Unlike other reviews that simply compare feature-by-feature the Zune HD and iPod Touch, Ars' Nate Anderson truly delves into what it's like to use the player. He is impressed with the music discovery features, newly fixed album art display times, and HD radio experience, while lamenting the decision to use on-screen volume controls, inability to natively sync DVR-MS files, and poor browser experience. The Zune pass too is seen as a very positive feature, and as yet another expense to consider. All in all, an incredibly fair review that touches on some key points to consider when making a purchase decision.