Microsoft's Zune music player has long been the iPod's dowdy stepsister, but the new, fourth-generation Zune HD is finally "a portable media player that you can be proud to carry around," says Katherine Boehret of the Wall Street Journal. The new device features a "stunningly vivid" touchscreen, impressive graphics, a web browser, and a radio receiver. Unfortunately, Microsoft's Zune makeover didn't extend to its online store, which is far more confusing than Apple's.
Microsoft insists on tying Zune to a strange pseudo-currency of "points" to buy music and movies, even after Apple and Amazon have demonstrated the appeal of simple, one-click purchasing. Your best bet is to bypass the system with a $15 monthly pass, which includes unlimited streaming music and 10 free MP3 downloads—and you can even build playlists that mix your own library's content with material from the store. The new Zune is "a great-looking little player," says Boehret, but "if its points system was scrapped, I'd like it better."