Bring It, Zune

Microsoft has begun shedding light on its would-be iPod killer, the Zune music player. It will cost $250 when available on Nov. 14 -- a price comparable to the iPod's. But Zune's success may hinge on other factors:

BROWN, THE NEW BLACK?

iPod comes in black or white; its Nano adds silver, blue, green, and pink. Zune comes in white, black...and brown? An odd option, perhaps. But look at what brown has done for LG's Chocolate phone.

SIZE MATTERS

Zune checks in at nearly an ounce more than the comparable 30-GB iPod and a smidgen thicker. That makes it a bit harder to slide into your jeans pocket.

MOVING PICTURES

Zune plays video on a slightly larger screen, but its online service doesn't yet have deals to sell movies or TV shows, as iTunes does.

ONE SIZE FITS ALL

At launch, Zune comes in a 30-gigabyte model, enough to hold 7,500 songs. The iPod family ranges from a tiny 1-GB shuffle to the capacious 80-GB player.

PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS...

In its most daring gambit, Zune includes Wi-Fi so you can swap songs with other Zuners. That opens the door to yet-to-be-announced features. But the Wi-Fi also sucks battery power.

...EXCEPT FOR APPLE

The iPod works with both Windows and Macintosh personal computers. The Zune? Microsoft says it's a Windows-only device.

EXTRAS, EXTRAS

Zune debuts with only a handful of accessories such as car stereo adapters. The iPod has thousands of them, including such esoterica as a toilet paper holder speaker system.

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