What's holding me back from buying a Zune HD: the lack of 3rd-party support

Zune-HD-originalI haven’t heard one major complaint about the Zune HD. Have you? Everyone seems to love it. My only iPod – the original iPod Mini – needs to be retired. I’m debating between the iPod touch and the Zune HD right now. The rebellious side in me wants to get the Microsoft Zune HD, which is kind of ironic if you think about it. However, the sensible side says that the iPod touch is the smart buy primarily because of the vast range of accessories available.

Last Christmas I got my 14-year old sister-in-law a Zune 80 over an iPod touch or classic. She got the Zune because it offered more storage than the flash-based touch, but had a bigger screen than the iPod classic. Plus I’ve never had a Zune act funky or die on me, which is something I can’t say that about an iPod. But then her birthday rolled around and we wanted to get her a speaker dock. Yeah, there are five speaker docks on the market and either they sound like poo, or they are made by Kicker and therefore out of our price range. She ended up getting a 2.1 computer speaker set with a y-cable.

The issue I have is that I like all the extras you can do with these devices. I have an Onkyo iPod dock along with a Belkin RF car dock that I used to use all the time with the iPod Mini. I expect to have the same capabilities with my new purchase, but I don’t think I can get that with the Zune HD.

ipod-touchRight now the Zune HD has a $90 docking kit that includes a remote, cables, and of course a dock. That’s cool, but will A/V companies produce their own dock that utilize digital transport for the audio and controlled by the receiver’s remote? Or will car audio companies make head-units that can control the Zune HD? Or even when will the first speaker dock be available because the five for the older Zunes aren’t 100% compatible. All these unknowns and are holding back my Zune HD purchase.

But really the same concern about 3rd party accessories for the device can be translated into the App world as well. Right now there isn’t a clear-cut way for developers to release applications for the Zune Marketplace. But there are billions of apps waiting for me Apple’s App Store. To be honest I don’t care that much about this facade, but it’s still on my mind.

If I lived a headphone life, I would have already purchased the Zune HD. I’m sure of that. But I sit at my desk where I have wonderful Polk Audio RTi150 speakers hooked up to an Onkyo receiver. I only breakout headphones during my kid’s naptime and even then, they are used via the receiver. I want the new portable device primarily for around the house with my various A/V setups (I’m an audio nerd), for in-the-car music listening, to entertain my 2 year-old son with classic Donald Duck shorts, and for the occasional plane ride.

I still don’t know which one I’m going to purchase. Available accessories are an important feature in my mind and the iPod wins that point by a mile, but the Zune HD is just so eff’n cool. IDK.