Testing the Zune HD was interesting. I do not own an iPod Touch, but was able to setup a comparative test model with an iPhone 3G S. To match the performance I turned off the 3G and Edge network using SBSettings (yes, my iPhone is Jailbroken). With this set up and connected to a wireless router (DLink DI-655), I tested internet load times, application launch times and then followed up with audio and video quality testing.
Internet page loading:-
For this little test I used our own TweakTown.com, Microsoft.com and Apple.com. Each was timed to see how fast the page would render from hitting "go" to full load and functionality.
The iPhone 3G S out does the engine in the Zune HD's browser here. There is no other way to put it.
Here I had to find similar apps to launch. So I chose the Calculator and the Chess game.
Here we see something interesting. After you clear out the ad from MS the Zune HD and the iPhone 3G S almost match each other for launch times on the non-native game. When it comes to the Calculator, the iPhones' native app simply trounces the Zune HD's add-on.
The Audio Quality on the Zune HD is significantly better than the iPhone 3G S. It has a much more full and spacious sound to it. With the iPhone 3G S, the sound is thin and reedy; the lows are week and even the high-end has too much brass. This is not the case with the Zune HD.
True, it is not a home theatre sound system, but its quality is simply stunning from a personal media player. It is capable of reproducing a much wider range of sound. This gives the audio more of a presence when listened to. I used it daily in my truck through the Auxiliary Input for the HD Radio Tuner in it and for the MP3 media I have downloaded from the Zune Marketplace.
Thanks to the use of a Tegra powered OLED, the Zune HD is hands down better at video reproduction than the iPhone 3G S. The black point in the screen is much deeper than any other PMP I have ever seen. It is even deeper than my HD TV to be perfectly honest. When you combine this with the audio quality you really have an experience.
On the AV Dock:-
The AV Dock was interesting. With the Zune HD in the dock you get an abbreviated menu on your TV screen. This allows you access to Pictures, Videos, HD Radio and Music only. You do not get to access the Marketplace, the Social, or any Apps.
If you play non Zune Marketplace videos on the Zune HD AV Dock you are in for a little bit of a surprise. It is not going to have very good quality, even if you transcode it down from a HD DVD or Blu-ray disc.
So, to get the full HD experience you have to get your media from the Zune Marketplace. I can say that HD Media from the Zune Marketplace is very good; the quality is crisp and clean. Audio is also very clean when run out in this manner.
The Zune HD AV Dock has a couple of connectivity options, but the one we used was HDMI (1.3) for video and Toslink Optical out for sound. The overall effect was very impressive. I cannot say that it is worth the price, but it is still impressive.