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All posts tagged "Zune"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

PCworld.ca Reviews the Zune

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Articles & Resources" @ 07:00 PM


"The Zune music player and brand has finally arrived onto Canadian soil almost two years after it first hit store shelves in the U.S. And yet, we are the first foreign market for the Zune, possibly affecting where and when it hits next. The first-generation Zune was an example of poor taste in colours and style. The brown one was especially my favourite to pick on because it resembled the kind of human waste that attracts large numbers of flies. The "three plays or three days" policy for sharing music on the original Zune was also laughable."

Well the first "Canadian" review of the Zune is now in, and despite the bandwagon-jumping-Microsoft-trashing quote above, reviewer Ted Kritsonis ends up liking the Zune a fair bit. He gave it an 8.5 out of 10, and that's without the inclusion of the Zune marketplace (which has yet to launch in Canada). I find it irritating when reviewers mention that the Zune can't play DRM-protected iTunes, but don't mention the reason why: Apple won't license their ironically-named "FairPlay" DRM to other companies. Place the blame in the right place Kritsonis - I'm sure the Zune team would love to license Apple's DRM because it would mean removing one more barrier to an iPod owner switching to the Zune. But, surprise surprise, Apple wouldn't allow that because they're the 900 pound gorilla in the media player market and they use their weight to do monopolistic things such as trademark the shape of their players.

All in all, the Zune fares quite well in this review - but the lack of Zune Pass being immediately available in Canada makes the Zune a cool digital media player, but ultimately not that radically different from competing products from Samsung, Creative, SanDisk, etc. The Zune desktop software is sure a lot better than having to use Windows Media Player 11 to sync though!

Tags: Zune, Canada, PC World

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What’s Really Happening with the Zune

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 05:30 PM


"I bought a zune because I saw the vision Microsoft had for the XBox 360, and I fully understood the direction they were going to take the zune. and now, with the software version 2.5, they are oh so close to being there."

Aaron Linne wrote a great piece on the direction of the Zune brand. He brings up the common arguments against Zune and the Social, but rebuts them by bringing up a scenario in which Cesar Menendez sent him (and everyone else on Cesar's friend list) a link to the new Tokyo Police album. What differentiates this scenario in the Zune ecosystem from other social network/audio scrobbling services is that Zune not only features a tighter integration between the different services (e.g. one-click downloads of other peoples' recommended songs), but also the unlimited download Zune Pass. Using a Pass, I can download as many tracks as I want without any extra cost. The ones I don't like I just get rid of; I don't have to worry about wasting $20 on songs I don't really like. This is a huge value to me as a music consumer, and makes the Zune ecosystem that much stronger.

I think Linne sums up the Zune brand perfectly: "iTunes is for people who like certain musicians. Zune is for people like music."

Monday, May 5, 2008

More news on 2.5

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune News" @ 05:04 PM


Stefan at IHaveAZune:

"If you head over to the Microsoft Download Center and search for Zune software you will find that Zunepackage.exe file is now titled “Zune Software 2.5″. Unfortunately the file is actually version 2.3."

It's only a matter of time now..

P.S. The Video's back up. Thanks Ricardo.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Audible Compatibility with Zune

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Media" @ 11:00 AM


"Zune and Audible Update
Jerry D forwarded me the following email he received from Audible regarding compatibility with the Zune:

I understand that you have contacted us today in regards to whether or not the Microsoft Zune is compatible with our service. We have great news! After much anticipation, Audible and Microsoft have completed negotiations on making the Zune AudibleReady! While we do not have an exact date as to when the device will be officially AudibleReady, we expect to make the Zune compatible before years end. Our Device Center on our website will be updated upon the Zune becoming compatible, so please be sure to check there periodically.

UPDATE: This one is confirmed! I wrote Audible about Zune compatibility (i.e did the ten seconds of research) and was given the same reply as quoted above."

Tech Guru Paul Thurrott has this choice bit of info about the long-requested Audible audio book support. This will remove one more obstacle many users have in switching from their iPod or other PMP to Zune. Look for more info as the year progresses.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Zune + Windows Mobile = Better Together?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Smartphone Talk" @ 01:45 PM


"What are some ways the Zune player and a Windows Mobile device can work better together? I'm not referring to an imaginary "Zune phone", and I'm certainly not hinting or speculating about a converged device. Instead, I'm wondering if there are any opportunities for us to improve the experience for people who use both devices (a Zune and a Windows Mobile phone). For example, viewing your Zune Social network in IEMobile, converting a Zune playlist into .WMA ringtones, converting Zune's artwork to Windows Mobile themes, showing your Windows Mobile contacts as pictures in Zune etc. If you can think of similar interesting or compelling scenarios, we'd love to hear them."

I know Mel, and I know he's completely sincere about his request for input, but I can't help but be a little bitter in seeing this request. Why? Going back a few years, likely 2004, I was in a conference room with some Microsoft people who had worked on the now-defunct Portable Media Center devices. The UI was one of the strongest aspects of that product, and a certain product manager asked me if I thought they should port that UI to Windows Mobile. There was no hesitation as I immediately replied "Yes". Windows Media Player Mobile was largely abandoned at that point (it still is as far as I'm concerned), and the PMC user interface was designed for fast media access. It was a no brainer and absolutely needed to happen. So what happened? Nothing.

Windows Mobile never got a re-worked Windows Media Player based on the Portable Media Center UI. If it had happened, it would have been the best media UI on a mobile phone - keep in mind this is a couple of years before the iPhone. Now here we are in 2008, and Microsoft is still thinking about how to make the Zune (which is really an evolved PMC) work with Windows Mobile. There are lots of interesting synergies between the products, but there should really be a Zune-type user interface on Windows Mobile for media. Windows Media Player 10 Mobile needs to swim with the fishes...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Microsoft Giving Away Zunes!

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 08:16 PM


Oh, Microsoft, you’re sneaky! But that’s ok because you’re giving out free swag. From today until March 31st, Microsoft is giving away a free Zune 8! There is a catch, however. You have to log in via your web enabled phone to Hotmail and send Microsoft an email from there. And that’s how they’re sneaky: pushing Hotmail and the Zune at you all at once. I hope I win! And, well, good luck to the rest of you. Maybe.

Good eye, Susan, at Got Zune for spotting this.

Tags: Zune, microsoft, free

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Valentines Treat

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune News" @ 03:00 PM


"Just in time for Valentine's, Zune is releasing a Red Zune 80gb, available via Zune Originals starting today. We'll also have 20 new designs available through Zune Originals until Feb 14. Zune Marketplace will also have a collection of love-themed playlists, including “Talk to Me, Barry,” love jams from Barry White, featuring spoken introductions."

Wow these things are nice. It's good to see a new color come out for the 80s, and what a fine color it is--it'd make an excellent gift for whatever sweetheart you may have. Okay, it's a little expensive, but it sure beats the alternative....

And I'm not going to lie: I'm excited for "Talk To Me, Barry." I might just not be able to wait that long...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Zune80 Survives the Scratch Test

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 08:00 PM


When I learned that Microsoft was abandoning the rugged "double shot" texturing of the first generation Zunes for a metal backing and glass screen, one of my biggest worries was that my "scratch trick" would stop working. A favorite activity of mine when proselytizing to iPodders was to pull out my Zune, ask rhetorically if they hated how easily their iPod got scratched, and proceed to dig my nail into the backside of my device. Mouths would drop, some cried out in horror, others fainted. I remained calm, rubbing my finger over the damage to reveal that no lasting effects were to be seen.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I heard that the backing on the 80 and 4/8 models would be metal. Thankfully, as Chris from Got Zune has proved, this is pretty much a non-issue. He accidentally left his Zune in the same pocket as his keys, a big no-no for mp3 players, yet was pleasantly surprised to see that his Zune passed the "accidental scratch test."

Thankfully, I haven't yet faced such a scary situation. I pretty much baby my Zune (putting it in cute outfits notwithstanding), but it's good to know it can stand up to the challenge when needed.

One thing though: I've noticed recently that if I apply a slight pressure to the back upper-right quadrant (up-left from the front), I'll often see a "ripple" on the screen. I assume this is due to the space-saving measures Microsoft used when designing the new player, but I'm wondering if this is a bad sign. Anyone else notice something similar?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Man uses Zune to Propose to his Girlfriend

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 07:30 PM


"Gizmodo reader Ben Podbielski proposed to his girlfriend on Wednesday, using a pink Zune Original. Uploaded onto the player was a video set to a romantic ballad. As the '80s music faded out there was an instruction to turn the Zune over: "Will you marry me?" was inscribed on the back."

What an awesome story! I always love it when people think of original ways to pop the question or read their wedding vows, and what could be more original than an Original? Props to the future Mr. and Mrs. Podbielski; for not only the amazing slideshow but also for the possibility of adding a new Pod' to the Social.

Check the Gizmodo story for the full slideshow video, made all the more amazing by the use of "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You" as background muzak. Any guesses as to what their first dance is going to be?

Friday, October 19, 2007

First Genre-Specific Zune To Be Released: A Glorified Reggaeton CD

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 PM


"Wisin & Yandel, the reggaeton duo with an uncanny knack for delivering hit singles, will become the first act to get its own customized Zune player, Billboard has learned.

The limited-edition Wisin & Yandel Zune device will hit Wal-Mart stores nationwide October 29, before the release of the duo's new album, 'Los Extraterrestres,' November 6.

Featuring the new album, videos, exclusive pictures and customized packaging, the MP3 player is but one aspect of a multiplatform Microsoft promotion that targets a new Latin consumer at the same time it promotes a hip Latin act."

It seems Microsoft is serious about expanding into the Latino demographic, and Winsin and Yandel (known for their club hits and addition to Paris Hilton's "Stars Are Blind" remix) are a great place to start. They're just "indie" enough to boost Microsoft's cred, yet popular and well-known enough to help them sell some players.

I read an article on ZDNet a while ago about using iPods as pretty much CDs--preloaded with content that you already like, and you can modify it from there. Ignoring the Apple Corps vs Apple Computer ruling which states that Apple can't sell any hardware device with music*, this would seem like a bad idea on many levels. But Microsoft seems to have pulled it off to some degree with the preloaded content on Zune1. The content served several purposes, but mainly to bolster the Zune's indie cred while also serving as a demo for how content is handled (giving users the experience of how it would work when they added their own media.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Zune Top 10 Ugliest Tech Products of the Year

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 09:42 PM


Oh come on... it isn't nearly that bad, is it? It may not yet have the sexy factor of its competitors, but placing it in the same category, let alone the same sentence as the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, Furby, or Virtual Boy is just uncalled for. The PC World article mentions the "hide-a-pod" website as proof of a massive outcry against the Zune's "ugly" design. Really, I see nothing wrong with the Zune design (of course, I do have a slight bias; owning a brown one, and writing for a website specializing in Zune news doesn't help any claim of neutrality) other than it being a bit beefy at times. The new designs seem to have mostly fixed this, but again, it's truly in the eye of the beholder.

I compare the Zune's polarizing design, and especially the color choices of brown and green (for Zune2) to Toyota's Scion xB. While I personally am not a fan of the car's boxy design and what I see as a clunky look, I know several happy xB owners who wouldn't have it any other way. I love my Zune, and if I could, I'd nominate PC World for an "ugliest site ever" award.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Zune Firmware 2.1 Coming Soon (And New Software!)

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 04:45 PM


"Here it is, direct from a trusted source close to the situation -- a Zune 1 running firmware 2.1, which will bring all the Zune 2 software goodies and UI tweaks with it when those bad boys are announced on Wednesday. That's right, we also have confirmation that Microsoft will be making the Zune 2 announcement on Wednesday, which should give the Zune tattoo guy plenty of time to get some new ink before the holidays."

Not content with merely updating the hardware, Microsoft has seen it fit to give us early adopters a break, granting us the same features that are rolling out with Zune2, Engadget reports. Not only that, but we're also getting a complete software and Marketplace overhaul. Folks, this is truly an exciting time to be a Zune owner.

(and I love the "Clever...is so last week" tagline. I truly hope they keep it in there.)

EDIT: Clarified when. (Thanks julioangelortiz)

Tags: Zune, 2, Zune2, Firmware, 2.1, Update

Friday, September 21, 2007

Zune 2 Rumors

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 02:30 PM

Phew. In just a couple days, the alleged "confirmation" of the Zune 2.0 has shot to the top of all the major tech blogs, and even a few of the bigger guys too.

This is both great news and terrible news. The great news is that it shows people are actually caring enough about Zune that it's moved beyond the mostly mocking and hyper-critical coverage it was getting at its inception. It also means that Microsoft has a great deal to live up to. Apple has proven itself in the hype arena, meeting and often greatly exceeding expectations. Now it's Microsoft's chance to step up. Many parallels have been drawn between the Zune and Microsoft's other big entertainment project, the Xbox. Many would agree that the original Xbox, while quite capable, was bested by the PS2 in nearly everywhere that counts. Now its successor, the Xbox 360, has set the standard for video game consoles in both device experience and entertainment value while the PS3 slowly rots.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Zune Epidermis

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Zune Accessories" @ 06:00 PM


"Decalgirl has over 97 skins for the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 (and a billion other products)."

Not digging plain White or Black, even with the cool highlight stripe? Decagirl has a great number of self-adhesive skins to apply to your Zune to give it that personal flair. Best of all, they're actually cool and attractive designs. I can see at least a dozen skins I wouldn't mind showing off. Too bad you've only got one Zune!

Tags: Zune, skin, skins, decagirl

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