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All posts tagged "hardware"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Zune HD 15% Off At Dell

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 06:52 AM

"Chances are if you're wanting a Zune HD on launch day, gaming capabilities in tow, you've already gotten one pre-ordered, but if you're not already financially committed elsewhere, this deal from Dell's website might sway your opinion. Entering the right coupon code will net you a 15 percent discount..."

On the big launch day, Engadget is reporting that Dell gives you a great deal if you haven't preordered the Zune HD already! 15% off any expensive electronics is never something to sneeze at and when that 15% discount comes on the day of launch, well, that's a great opportunity! Of course if you're buying through that deal that means you didn't get on the cutting edge so you could have a Zune HD in your hands by today but with between $33 to $43 in savings I'm willing to bet you're ok with that.

The deals are actually over on LogicBUY so you'll want to follow the appropriate links for the correct deals:

Zune HD 32 GB

Zune HD 16 GB

The only question is, what accessory will you be spending that savings on!

Zune HD Hardware Deep Dive (Part 1)

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 12:13 AM


This is a "deep dive" video where I take a closer look at the device. For some unknown reason YouTube refuses to allow the video to be embedded on this site, unlike all the other videos. Just click on the image above and watch it over on YouTube. The model I'm looking at here is the 16 GB model, in black, and it sells for $219 USD as of September 2009. This is a follow-up video to my Zune HD unboxing and first impressions video, so be sure to check that out first.

Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. He wonders if the Zune is ever going to exist outside the USA.

Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the Thoughts Media Review Team! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? Then click here for more information.

Friday, September 11, 2009

DVICE: Zune HD First Look

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 03:16 PM

“A 32GB Microsoft Zune HD media player arrived at our doorstep today, and we had just enough time to take it out of its packaging and snap some first shots. Unfortunately, Microsoft didn't provide the Zune 4.0 software necessary to sync it up and actually use the unit, but we still were in awe of its spectacular 3.3-inch 16:9 OLED touchscreen. It's responsive, bright, sharp, and contrasty. Beautiful.”

DVICE has a quick first look at the Zune HD. They seem to like it even they weren’t really able to use it since they don’t have the software for it yet. Never-the-less, they are still impressed by the styling of the Zune HD and its size and performance! Microsoft really seems to have a hit on its hands here since all of the commentary on the HD really has been positive.

There’s nothing else new here since DVICE couldn’t actually use the Zune HD yet but if you want to check out a nice gallery of some Zune HD shots, check out their first look and admire what you can soon buy (or just pre-order now). Release day is almost here!

Zune HD #1 At Amazon!

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 01:50 PM


This is great news for Microsoft. The Zune HD of course only has two models but clearly this shows there is some excitement for the Zune right now. How long will it last is the big question. Can Microsoft build off of what looks to be a little momentum for the first time in a couple years? Microsoft really needs to do just a few things to really have a strong presense in the market.

They simply have to have a larger capacity Zune HD. There is no excuse for the lack of a 64 GB device. That the 32 GB device is selling so well shows people are willing to spend more for a bigger device.

They need a small standard player. I know people who just want a little DAP to take to the gym. I have a coworker who won’t consider anything bigger than a Nano. And get this thing out in multiple markets already! Whatever it takes just do it. Sell your soul for it. I don’t know if this would all translate to success but I can’t imagine Microsoft really considers what’s happened up until now a success.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Kicker ZK500: Thumping, Great-Quality Sound

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Accessories" @ 07:00 AM

Product Category: Speaker dock
Manufacturer: Kicker
Where to Buy: Zune.net Store or Amazon.com [Affiliate]
Price: $114.99 USD (Zune.net sale price) or $176.99 (Amazon)
System Requirements: Compatible with Zune 30, Zune 4/8/16, Zune 80/120, and technically the Zune HD.
Specifications: Kicker has them all.


  • Excellent sound - crisp highs, solid bass response;
  • Has auxiliary audio input so can act as computer speakers;
  • Works with all Zune models, including the Zune HD (the remote doesn't work with it however).


  • Remote control is a bit strange, and there's no place to store it;
  • No battery-powered option, which is important for some people;
  • Darth Vader-inspired design may not be for everyone.

Summary: I've had a Kicker ZK-500 for quite a while now, but never quite got around to reviewing it - it's a character flaw of mine that I'll sometimes start working on a review but not finish it - but seeing as Microsoft is selling the Kicker ZK-500 from their online store right now for a mere $114.99 USD, I knew that I had to share my thoughts quickly before the sale ends. This is one great-sounding speaker dock! Read more...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Zune HD Comes In More Capcacities / Colors Than We Thought

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 07:30 AM


One bit of good news from yesterday's otherwise disheartening announcement is that the Zune HD won't be limited to one color per storage capacity. Until this point, the official position had been that the 16 GB version of the player would be available only in black, and the 32 GB version only in platinum, with three different colors available through the Zune Originals series at launch. Not so, says Paul Thurrott. Thurrott now confirms that the one-capacity, one-color restriction was for pre-orders of the device only. Come September 15, you'll be able to order a black 32 GB device and a platinum 16 GB device from the store. But if you're going to wait to pick up the device, you might as well order it from the Zune Originals website, and get a nice etching to go along with it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Zune to Retire Every Player But Zune HD?

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


"Microsoft guru Paul Thurrott of SuperSite for Windows fame has read the writing on the wall. According to the reps he spoke with, production has ceased on all Zune models before the upcoming Zune HD. In other words, when supplies run out, Zune 4, 8, 16, 80, and 120 are as good as dead, with only this year's model left standing."

Alas, fair Zunes 4, 8, 16, 80, 120, we hardly knew thee. Jason mentioned a couple weeks ago that the flash models were on the outs, but I had no idea they'd be axing the larger capacity Zune 120 as well. This seems like an incredibly short-sighted move, as it leaves only the high-end luxury model as a compatible device with the Zune software. Apple has known for quite some time, and proven for even longer, that when users buy into a device / software ecosystem, it helps to have a variety of different players to choose from. I hope the Zune team delivers a pleasant surprise in the near future, but for now I'm not holding my breath.

50% Off Select Zune Accessories

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 11:14 AM

Its time for another Zune accessory sale! There some good deals to be had. Nothing really special in this sale but your options are:

Anyone not planning to jump on the Zune HD wagon quite yet might want to grab one of these deals!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Video and Pictures from Best Buy Zune HD Event

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Events" @ 11:30 AM


One thing I wish I brought with me on my journey to Best Buy on Saturday was a video or picture camera to document the device in action, and to show off the contents of the Zune HD box. Luckily, John Aarington from ZuneSpring.com remembered his, and helpfully uploaded several pictures and two videos of his experience. He must be Boston-based, because the presenter is the same as the one I saw. Check out the read link for bonus shots of the Zune HD box, a fold-out poster, and two videos of the device and TV functions.

Tags: hardware, , zune hd

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Impressions from Best Buy Zune HD Hands-On

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 11:22 AM

I just got back from my "local" (half hour away...ugh) Best Buy to take a look at the forthcoming Zune HD. I was pretty impressed with what I saw, and I'm definitely looking forward to picking mine up when it comes out. Here are a few things I noticed and thoughts I have about the device, and I'm mostly trying to avoid repeating anything that has been said before. Forgive the short-hand, but I'll try to clean it up later.

  • Press and hold the screen while in a song to bring up the option to "pin" a track, which shows up along with Now Playing and History to the left of the main menu
  • Now Playing screen folows the Zune Software more closely, with artist pictures and track info scrolling by slowly. Looks amazing on HDTV
  • Now Playing playlists can be saved to the device for later use, and even sent via the Social to yourself or other people to look at later. A keyboard pops up so you can name the playlist.
  • Now Playing list didn't seem to have many advanced features, only a Clear All and send button. The presenter tried to do a clockwise-circular gesture to re-arrange tracks, but apparently this was removed since an earlier version
  • He wasn't allowed to show off Marketplace, Social, or Internet features, since they weren't finished yet.
  • These features don't show up when the Zune is docked to the TV. Says it has nothing to do with wifi, just that they haven't finalized a version of these for 10-foot viewing. May come out in a future update
  • I got to hold the device to feel its heft, and it's surprisingly light. Screen seems very responsive, and the buttons tactile. The "home" button below the screen is slightly beveled, which felt good to press.
  • Notifications pop up at the bottom of the screen, a bit like the "curtain" on the Palm Pre. When you do an action like pin a song or clear a list, it will show up in this area, and not show up as an overlay the way it does currently on the 3.0 firmware.
  • There are no sliders in the Now Playing screen. To seek within a track or change the volume, you must hold one of the buttons on the screen
  • Changing tracks can also be accomplished via a swipe gesture, similar to the one currently used with the Zune Pad.
  • The "twist" interface has been retained (as you've likely seen in screenshots), but anywhere in the main area of the screen can be swiped right or left to accomplish the gesture.
  • Artist bios, pictures, and related artists all look incredibly well implemented, and it seems a great evolutionary step
  • The packaging appears similar to the second-generation product, and comes with regular (non-"premium") headphones and a sync cable that doesn't look to have changed much since version 2
  • The HD dock will not accept the original Zune 30, since it "simply will not fit." Apparently has more to do with size than anything else.

All in all, a number of welcome improvements (like saving Now Playing lists, HD radio, and of course the beautiful transitions), and a number of things I hope they'll fix in coming updates. No matter what, this definitely appears to be something the Zune team can be proud of. Great stuff.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Windows Media Center Support Still Limited

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 10:53 AM


"Zune HD, and the forthcoming Zune 4.0 PC software, will support and transcode Windows Media Center recorded TV file formats from Windows Vista or Windows 7 that contain MPEG-2 video, in either the DVR-MS or WTV formats. Support is limited to unencrypted SD and HD recordings. HD Files with AC3 audio are not supported by Zune."

As Engadget points out (and I was entirely unaware of), this effectively makes HD recordings incompatible with the Zune as the broadcasts all use Dolby Digital AC-3 audio. This is really a shame because it shows that despite all of the promise of interoperability between Microsoft's many excellent platforms, it still hasn't really come close to happening yet. The Zune, XBox and WMC are all, in and of themselves, fine products.

What would really give them an edge over the competition is if they all worked together seamlessly and its still something that they really don't do except in the most rudimentary ways. I know the guys up in Redmond are all very good at what they do so I don't understand what is keeping them from really giving us a truly broad ecosystem for personal entertainment from top to bottom.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Lithium Batteries from Sony

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:30 PM


"Sony Corporation today announced that it has launched a new type of lithium ion secondary battery that combines high-power and long-life performance, using olivine-type lithium iron phosphate as the cathode material. Shipment commenced in June 2009. The Olivine-type lithium iron phosphate used in this new battery is extremely suited for use as a cathode material due to its robust crystal structure and stable performance, even at high temperatures. By combining this new cathode material with Sony's proprietary particle design technology that minimizes electrical resistance to deliver high power output, and also leveraging the cell structure design technology Sony accrued developing its current "Fortelion series" lithium ion secondary battery line-up, Sony has realized a high power density of 1800W/kg and extended life span of approximately 2,000 charge-discharge cycles."

From the full press release, it sounds like this technology will first be showing up in batteries for cordless power tools and other similar applications. But, expect to see it migrate to other mobile devices soon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Best Buy Zune HD Preview - August 22nd & 23rd

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 12:55 PM


"Zune® is partnering with Best Buy to showcase the new Zune HD portable digital media player that will be releasing this Fall. Zune Reps will be in select Best Buy stores on August 22 and 23 demoing Zune HD and answering customer questions. This event will be the first time the Zune HD will be demonstrated in store for public viewing, so come by and check it out!"

Circle the date on your calendars! August 22 & 23 will be your first opportunity to check out a Zune HD in the flesh. Or I guess in the metal and silicon. The Zune HD is a pretty huge step for the Zune line. After three years of only one significant change in form, we're really going to see a huge step forward with the HD. Aside from the slim form factor, the beautiful screen on the HD looks to be pretty incredible.

This should be some good publicity having an in-store demo at Best Buy. I know from talking to people that there is still a very negative perception of the Zune that the first design caused. Its a shame since the current models are very nice themselves. I know I love my Zune 80! So remember, if you want to see the Zune HD before it launches, get out to Best Buy next weekend.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Official Zune HD Specifications

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 07:00 AM

Price: $219.99 ERP[1] for 16 GB Zune HD; $289.99 ERP[1] for 32 GB Zune HD

Capacity: 16 gigabytes (GB) Up to 5 hours of high definition video from Zune Marketplace, or 48 hours of video optimized for device, or 4,000 songs, or 25,000 pictures[2]

Colors: Onyx Black (16 GB), Platinum Silver (32 GB)

Size and Weight: 52.7 mm x 102.1 mm x 8.9 mm (w x h x d) Weight: 2.6 ounces (74 grams)

Battery Life: Music: up to 33 hours (wireless off); video: up to 8.5 hours[3] Charge Time: Approximately 3 hours when connected to your PC, approximately 2 hours with AC adapter

Screen Size: 3.3-inch OLED color display, 16:9 aspect ratio Type: Scratch-resistant glass with Touch input capability Orientation: Vertical (music) and horizontal (pictures and videos) Resolution: 480 pixels x 272 pixels

Wireless Connectivity: 802.11b/g compatible

Wireless Sync: Yes

Connectivity: 802.11b/g compatible Authentication modes: Open, WEP, WPA, and WPA2 Encryption modes: WEP 64- and 128-bit, TKIP, and AES

Audio Support: Windows Media® Audio Standard[4] (WMA) (.wma): Up to 384 Kbps; constant bit rate (CBR) and variable bit rate (VBR) up to 48-kHz sample rate. WMA Pro 2-channel up to 768 Kbps; CBR and VBR up to 48-kHz. WMA Lossless: 2 channel up to 768 kbps and 48 kHz. Advanced Audio Coding (AAC-LC) (.mp4, .m4a, .m4b ) - .m4a and .m4b files without FairPlay DRM up to 320 Kbps; CBR and VBR up to 48-kHz. MP3 (.mp3) - Up to 320 Kbps; CBR and VBR up to 48-kHz

Picture Support: JPEG - (.jpg)

Video Support WMV: Windows Media Video (WMV) (.wmv) - Main and Simple Profile, CBR or VBR, up to 10.0 Mbps peak video bit rate; 720 pixels x 480 pixels up to 30 frames per second (or 720 pixels x 576 pixels up to 25 frames per second). Advanced Profile up to L2, 1280x720 up to 30 frames per second, CBR or VBR, up to 14.0 Mbps peak video bitrate. Zune software will transcode HD WMV files above stated capabilities at device sync.

Video Support MPEG-4: MPEG-4 (MP4/M4V) (.mp4) Part 2 video[4] - Simple Profile up to 2.5 Mbps peak video bit rate; 720 pixels x 480 pixels up to 30 frames per second (or 720 pixels x 576 pixels up to 25 frames per second). Zune software will transcode HD MPEG-4 files at device sync

Video Support H.264: Baseline Profile + bframes, up to 10 Mbps peak video bit rate; 720 pixels x 480 pixels up to 30 frames per second (or 720 pixels x 576 pixels up to 25 frames per second). 1280x720 up to 30 frames per second, up to Level 3.1 and 14.0 Mbps peak video bitrate. Zune software will transcode HD H.264 files above stated capabilities at device sync.

Video Support DVR-MS: DVR-MS[5] - Zune software will transcode at time of sync

Audio Output: Analog Audio Out, Optical Digital Audio Out (requires additional dock, sold separately)

Video Ouput: HDMI or Composite (requires additional dock, sold separately)

Radio: Built-in FM/HD RadioTM[5]

Included Accessories: Headphones, Zune Sync Cable, Three pairs of foam earpiece covers

Ports: Connector port, 3.5mm Headphone jack

Languages: English, French, Spanish


[1] U.S. estimated retail price; actual retail prices may vary

[2] Music estimates based on 128 Kbps WMA files with length of 4 minutes each. Pictures transferred to Zune will be optimized for Zune screen size; video estimates based on 500 Kbps WMV files with 128 Kbps WMA audio tracks.

[3] Battery life was tested by Zune in August 2009 using preproduction hardware and device software. Battery tests are conducted with specific Zune units. Actual results may vary. Audio content used was WMA 128 Kbps. Video content used was 320x240 WMV9 500 Kbps total bit rate. Batteries have a limited number of charge cycles and may eventually hold less charge. Battery life and the number of charge cycles vary by use and settings. See www.zune.net/batteries for more information.

[4] In MP4/M4V container format, QuickTime (.mov) files will transcode at time of sync.

[5] Standard definition TV recordings from Windows Media Center. HDTV and protected recordings not supported. Must be running Zune Software 4.0 on Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate. Must be running Zune Software 4.0 on Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate, or Windows 7.

[6] HD Radio and the HD Radio logo are proprietary trademarks of iBiquity Digital Corp.

Pre-Order Your Zune HD Today from Amazon.com

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 06:27 AM

Finally, we have a 100% official confirmation from Microsoft and their partners on the price and availability of the Zune HD. You can pre-order the 32 GB Zune HD in platinum for $289.99 USD, or the 16 GB version in black for $219.99 USD from Amazon.com. It should ship on September 15th, the official release date of the Zune HD. Other accessories available from Amazon.com include the Zune HD Sync Dock ($49.99), the Zune HD AV Dock ($89.99), the Zune HD Sync Cable ($19.99), the Zune HD Premium Car Pack ($79.99 USD), the Zune HD Charge Pack ($29.99), and the Zune HD Power Pack ($49.99). All of the links in this post are affiliate links - your purchases help support the work we do here at Zune Thoughts. Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Amazingly Fluid Speed of the Zune HD

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 04:09 PM

One word: wow! This video really shows off how fast and fluid the user interface on the Zune is. This is really impressive stuff. There are other videos here (check out the amazing off-axis viewing angle and brightness) and here (showing the HD video out, though unfortunately the camera never quite gets into focus).

Flash Zunes Gone From Zune Store: What Gives?

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 12:15 PM


"Looks like the rising tide of Zune HD news has taken some casualties along the way: Microsoft's official Zune store no longer lists any flash players at all, leaving just the Zune 80 and Zune 120 to hold things down while we wait for the next generation."

What's up with this? Amazon, Best Buy, et. al still appear to have them in stock, but the Zune Store (and consequently Zune Originals) show no love for the flash versions of the player. Could a refresh on the lower end Zune be in the cards? I certainly hope so. The Zune Store page is certainly looking lonely.

UPDATE: And... they're back? Apparently these little guys have some life in them yet. At least until September 15.

Tags: hardware, , flash zune

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

20+ ZuneHD Shots Leak Out

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 11:44 AM


"We've seen our fair share of Microsoft's upcoming Zune HD, but the company just threw together a delightful little photoshoot for its new PMP, with the black and silver versions of the device on display along with a large quantity of attractiveness in both flavors. Most of the shots are variation on a pretty basic theme (and a little small, since these haven't made their way through quite "official" channels just yet), but they do give a good idea of what the UI will look like if you're into the Black Eyed Peas."

Some press shots of the upcoming ZuneHD have leaked out showing the device in its various media modes. Displayed are the home screen, radio tuner, and Now Playing screen and something called "Pins" and "History." I'm sure we'll be seeing a whole lot more of the player as its September 8 release date approaches.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Great New Egg Deal For Zune 4GB

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 03:39 PM


There's a great deal over at New Egg right now on the Zune 4GB and it runs for the next week. Currently they are selling the 4GB models for 47.99 which is a steal if you are looking for a low priced Zune since they normally sell it for $99.99! Not only that, New Egg is offering an additional $19.99 off if you take a combo with the Altec Lansing im414 speaker dock. There is another combo offered with the Zune premium headphones that is $20 off for that combo. I don't particularly like the im414 so I'd suggest going with the premium headphones. Either way you're getting a great deal. I will probably pick up one for when I'm out running or at the gym myself!

(Thanks to jdmichal for spotting this!)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July Zune Accessory Sale

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 06:31 AM


"Throughout the month of July, the Zune Originals store, an offshoot of Zune.net, is offering many of its Zune accessories at 50% off, and quite a few more at smaller discounts. If you own a Zune, there is no better time to pick up those accessories you’ve been wanting."

This is a pretty good time to buy! The challenge is figuring out what is on sale. If you go to the Zune Originals store then you'll find that the prices have been adjusted on their info page. The only way to know for sure is to compare the prices to those at Zune.net since those have not been adjusted. A quick check revealed that the sync cable and the premium headphones mentioned in the article at htmlcenter are both on sale. Unfortunately it appears that the speakers are not. I'd have loved an iHome for $50! (How about that, iHome? I'll send you a check for $50 and you send me a speaker? Let's make this happen.)

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