Tomorrow is the official launch day for Microsoft’s ZuneHD, but it’s already on sale in a roundabout way says Engadget. Deal site LogicBuy notes that you can order the new device from Dell and use a 15% off coupon code for either the 16 or 32GB unit. That knocks the prices down to $186.99 and $246.49, respectively if you’re willing to order online and wait for delivery.
When I owned the original Zune, I felt at the time that it had a competitive advantage over Apple’s iPod line. Admittedly, renting music through a subscription service isn’t for everyone, but the experience was worth it to me. In fact, I owned a Zune before I ever owned an iPod (s aapl) — how many people can say that? ;) With another 15% off the price of a ZuneHD, I’m tempted to pick one up, but probably won’t. Had there been no music subscription service that worked in the Apple ecosystem, I would have already ordered a discounted ZuneHD. But Real’s (s rnwk) Rhapsody for iPhone app was approved, just as I thought it would be. For the same $15 a month, I can stream millions of tracks to my current handset without buying a new device.
However, there is at least one benefit that the Zune Pass offers over a Rhapsody-To-Go subscription. Microsoft (s msft) allows you to download and keep 10 MP3 files each month, so it’s like a music subscription with a free monthly album. Microsoft also wins out for now in two other areas: local storage and sound quality. With the Rhapsody app for iPhone, you can only stream music — meaning that it requires connectivity. With a ZuneHD, you can pull down tracks to store locally and listen while offline. The ZuneHD also supports a higher bitrate than Rhapsody for iPhone — 320kbps for the ZuneHD which easily wins over the lowly 64kbps of Rhapsody’s streaming. While the ZuneHD also includes an HD Radio tuner, these factors still aren’t enough for me to justify a hardware purchase at this point.
That’s just me and my preferences though. And there are various pros and cons to either approach. Is the 15% discount on a ZuneHD enough to get one headed your way? I know that some folks simply can’t pass up a good deal when they see it. ;)