At one point when I was exploring the new Zune site, I remembered my initial feeling of disappointment when I'd first laid eyes on the player. I'd been hoping that, in their quest to capture the public imagination (as well as market share, of course), Microsoft might go for a fresher, eye-catching design. One of the immediately appealing things about the original iPod was that it didn't look like other MP3 players; I'd hoped Microsoft would take that into consideration, like they did with the Xbox.
No luck, as we now know. Instead, we got what essentially looks like an iPod with a bigger screen and a smaller wheel. My sense of a lost opportunity only intensified when I looked at TrekStor's new vibez MP3 player, which has the slimness of an iPod and the curves of an Italian bikini model. Check out the stainless steel casing and that large rubberized scroll wheel -- unlike the Zune, I took one look and wanted to know what it felt like it my hand.
The vibez player is not only round and firm, it's fully packed. It handles MP3, WMA, DRMed WMA9 and WMA10, lossless WMA, Ogg Vorbis, WAV and FLAC audio files; displays still images on its 176x132 TFT display (a video display add-on is coming next year, but I'm not sure how that's going to work with such a small screen); and sports user-definable buttons. The removable lithium-ion battery is also a nice touch.
The hard drive-based vibez will come in three different capacities, with the 8 and 12 GB models shipping in December for US$219 and US$249, and the 15 GB model shipping in January for US$279.