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All posts tagged "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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Zune HD Stays True To Its Seattle Roots

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 08:30 AM


"The upcoming version of the Zune not only maintains the cute "Hello from Seattle" message, it gives it more prominence, moving the phrase from the back of the case to the side."

Ever since the first generation Zune, Microsoft has included a three word salute on the back of their music players, "Hello from Seattle." Perhaps as a dig at Apple's "Designed by Apple in California," and also likely a reference to Seattle's famed underground music scene, the sentence pays tribute to Microsoft's Washington state roots. What does it mean that the words have moved from the back of the device to the side in the latest hardware update? Probably nothing, but it does make the text slightly more noticeable on its own.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Win a Zune HD in One of Three Ways

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Announcements" @ 09:30 PM


Lusting after a Zune HD but don't want to drop down the $210 or $290 needed to purchase one for yourself? Luckily Microsoft is giving away one Zune HD a week for four weeks for your freeloading pleasure. And it won't even take a lot of effort on your part! Just reply to the question "what are you most excited about in the Zune HD" on Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace and you'll be entered to win. Full rules are available at the read link (US residents over 18.) What are you waiting for? Enter already!

Also: For you Twitterphiles out there, you can now "Zuneify" your pic!

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).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

CNET Gets Hands-On Time With the Zune HD

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Articles & Resources" @ 02:45 PM


"I'll admit right off the bat that I've been a pretty big fan of the Zune ever since I bought my first one back in 2007. I've also had some disappointments, which I haven't been shy about sharing--and last year's half-hearted Zune hardware refresh had me losing faith that Microsoft would be able to steer this one out of the ditch. Well, having just geeked-out with a pair of Zune HDs for about an hour, I am tentatively reaffirming my faith in Microsoft. This thing was worth the wait, folks."

Donald Bell was fortunate enough to get his hands on the Zune HD - one of an increasing number of people able to do so - and he was generally pleased with what he saw. Check out his article for the details, but the highlights are that the Zune HD is using the same Wolfson DSP so the sound quality should be just as good, and the EQ has been brought back. What surprised me, in a pleasant way, was the fact that he was impressed with the Web browser. I was expecting it to be the most suck-tastic part of the Zune HD because IE Mobile on Windows Mobile is such a dog, but Bell says it's as impressive as the browser on the iPhone. There's also a gallery of photos worth checking out.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Zune HD Rumours: Possible Price Points and Insanely Awesome Battery Life?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 12:44 PM

Another week, another couple of rumours about the forthcoming Zune HD. First up, price points: the 16 GB and 32 GB capacities seem all but confirmed at this point, and now Electronista has some information about the price point of the 16 GB Zune HD being between $249 and $279 USD. The price point make it a little less expensive than the 16 GB iPod Touch, which is a good move for Microsoft. No word on the pricing of the 32 GB Zune HD, but I'd guess we'll see it in the $349 to $379 realm. There's also a rumour about a 64 GB Zune coming "down the road", which isn't shocking - this is all about the price point of Flash, nothing more. Microsoft could release a 128 GB Zune HD, but it would probably cost $899. So for all of you who have full Zune 120s, this is not the device for you.

Moving along to the issue of battery life, we have (supposedly) a Microsoft employee who likes to blab to a fellow named Ryan Rea (Volvoshine), and the result is a claim of 5x battery life over the current iPod Touch. The iPod Touch 2nd gen unit is rated for 36 hours of audio or six hours of video. If the 5x factor proves to be true, on paper at least we'd be looking at 180 hours of audio or 30 hours of video. That seems virtually impossible - I'm expecting to see some battery life gains by moving to the OLED screen and the Tegra chip, but 5x? I'm calling hoax on this one. I hope I'm wrong, because that kind of battery life is game-changing, but when something seems too good to be true, it usually is...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Zune HD's AMOLED Screen Is A Bright Idea

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 07:40 PM

“Aside from the differentiating core technologies and software that the Zune HD and the Samsung Omnia PRO, the real differentiator--at least at first glance--will be the devices' gorgeous AMOLED displays. The displays will have the ability to render truer and darker blacks, vivid colors, and be more useable even under direct sunlight.”

OLEDs are a technology that we’ve been hearing about for quite some time now. It’s taken a while (far too long by my estimation!) but they are finally beginning to show up in more and more consumer devices. Of course, the one we care most about here is the forthcoming Zune HD. The one feature I’ve asked for time and again is a better display than what the current Zunes have had. The AMOLED will certainly deliver on that mark.

A side benefit that you may notice as you read about this technology is how it affects power consumption. Because the screen is not backlit, only the pixels that are active will draw power. While this could mean that if you decide to have an all black background you’ll use less power, the more practical consideration is that much of the time there are large parts of the display that are displaying nothing. Since the backlight is such a drain on the battery, this alone should significantly benefit the battery life.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Zune HD to Come in 16 GB and 32 GB Capacities?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 02:00 PM


"The Zune HD also comes with Internet Explorer (with tap-to-zoom technology), which means you'll not only have access to you favorite websites, but you'll also have access to other Wi-Fi features like song sharing, channel streaming, and the Zune Marketplace). Beyond that, the Zune HD has everything you'd expect a PMP to have and the standard Zune stuff, such as podcasts, Zune Pass, games, and a photo viewer. Zune HD is available with either 16GB or 32GB."

We know that the Zune HD is going to be Flash-based, but Microsoft has remained tight-lipped on the exact storage capacities that the Zune HD will be offered with. An Canadian American publication named CRAVE has published an article in which, as you can see by the quote above, the storage capacities are listed in a matter-of-fact way at 16 GB and 32 GB. I emailed the editors at CRAVE last week to ask for a confirmation of this information, because it wasn't presented as a rumour or a "maybe this is what it will have", but the editors didn't reply to my email. So will the Zune come in 16 GB and 32 GB capacities? It seems like a reasonable guess - 8 GB would be too small to be of much use with HD content, and 64 GB would likely drive the price of the device through the roof. So what we're left with is either 16 GB, 32 GB, or both. Will those be the two storage capacities we'll see this fall? We'll see...

UPDATE: The Managing Editor at Crave got back to me, and the author got the 16/32 GB capacity information from this PC World article where they also are quite matter-of-fact about the storage capacities.

Zune HD Will Have Unicode Support

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 09:29 AM


This is news that will make some people happy: the Zune HD will have unicode support, meaning that it will display non Latin-based characters. This means that if you have a song/video/photo that has a file name, or metadata, in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. it wil display the filename on those characters rather than showing you the "unknown block" characters. Not having any files like that myself, I'm unsure of exactly what languages are supported, or how the implementation will work. What would make people really happy of course would be if unicode support was rolled back to older Zune devices - because no one wants to buy a new device to get unicode support. Microsoft has thus far remained quiet about what sorts of software support they'll continue to provide for the older Zune devices. Let's face it, they've extended the feature-life of the Zune 30 further than anyone else has ever done with an MP3 player - so if they were to stop releasing firmware updates for it, it wouldn't be very surprising. I'd really like to see unicode suppot trickle down to the Zune 120/80/16/8/4 devices though - it would be a shame to see the devleopment stop on devices that are still being sold today.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Zune HD Listed on Amazon.com

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 01:16 PM

http://www.amazon.com/Zune-TBA-HD/dp/B001FA1O2C/ref=amb_link_84505111_2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=top-1&pf_rd_r=0EC57BEES5R6V4FV47VG&pf_rd_t=301&pf_rd_p=479310151&pf_rd_i=zune hd

"Zune HD is the first portable media player that combines a built-in HD Radio receiver, high-definition (HD) video output capabilities, organic light-emitting diode (OLED) touch screen, Wi-Fi and an Internet browser. Zune HD brings a new level of listening and viewing experiences to the portable media player category."

The Zune HD has shown up on Amazon.com, but strangely, there's not much in the way of new information - there's no price, no capacity information, no information about supported file formats, battery life, battery capacity, etc. Some of the other sites that have posted this news are talking up the Xbox Live integration angle, specifically the Xbox Live Arcade games, but without an explicit mention of this feature in the text, I'm highly dubious this is something we'll come fall of this year.

Here's one thing I'm hoping for: the text mentions the dock as being required for HD output, but I wonder if Microsoft will also release a cable that will allow the HD output to function? I can see myself loading up the Zune HD with some content and wanting to plug it into a hotel room TV - assuming that TV has HDMI - and doing so with a cable would be easy for traveling. A dock? Kind of a clunky solution for someone who travels.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Zune HD Rumoured to Ship September 5th

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 10:12 AM


"I can't recall if I had stated this date explicitly before, but I have been told that Zune HD will ship on September 5, 2009."

That's what Paul Thurrott says about the Zune ship date. That seems to be in sync with what Microsoft has said about the Zune HD shipping in the fall. That's a little over three months away Zune fans...not so long of a wait! As a side note, I have to wonder why anyone from Microsoft talks to Paul Thurrott - he seems to specialize in getting information from Microsoft then telling it to the world.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Engadget Gets Hands-On Time with the Zune HD

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 09:43 PM


"We managed to track down the beast and toy with it a bit, and we must say... the thing kind of rocks. In your hand the Zune HD has a nice, solid feel, with good heft to it and a surprisingly thin profile. The OLED screen looks absolutely stunning -- even at severe viewing angles, colors were super bright, edges were crisp, and text looked beautiful."

The lads at Engadget didn't get a video, but they did get a bunch of photos from all sorts of angles - and the Zune HD looks just as drop-dead sexy as I thought it would. It looks very slim and sleek, and more attractive than the rendered photos we posted the other day. Definitely worth checking out the gallery!

Gizmodo Gets Hands-On With the Zune HD

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 09:35 PM


"Having just played with a prototype for a few minutes, I'm really impressed with the Zune HD. I've got a video, too, showing off how well the animations work. The device is tighter and more physically beautiful than the iPod Touch and it's got a better UI, the main menu's scrolling so natural through the swipe gestures."

The boys at Gizmodo got a chance to check out the Zune HD in person, and managed to not only snap a bunch of geek-lust-incuding photos, they also managed to get it on video - and their camera person understood the whole "focus" thing a bit better. Video after the break. Read more...

C|NET Gets Hands-On Time with the Zune HD

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 09:27 PM


"As D: All Things Digital wrapped up Thursday, I got a quick chance to play around with the Zune HD that Microsoft plans to ship this fall. The software maker announced plans for the product on Tuesday and released a photo, but this is a product I was curious to see firsthand. The most striking feature from my brief look was the device's striking organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display."

This is one of several first looks at the Zune HD that have happened today - check out the video and I'll post the others shortly. All I can say is: WOW! That UI looks fluid. Oh, and the cameraman doesn't know how focus works.

Steve Ballmer Shows Off the Zune HD

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 11:44 AM


Johnny-On-The-Spot, Joshua Topolsky, managed to get a bit of a demo of the new Zune HD from none other than Steve Ballmer himself. Other than saying that the OLED screen is "gorgeous", Topolsky doesn't have much to say about the Zune HD. There's a gallery with some photos that tell a bit more of a story - there looks to be some sort of button at the top, and on Ballmer's Zune HD there's a Zune logo on the lower left - I suspect it's just a sticker indicating that this is a pre-production unit. Take a peek at the photos and tell me if you notice anything else of note...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Zune HD: The Morning After

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Articles & Resources" @ 09:00 PM


"Have we all come down from our Zune HD highs yet? No. Well I thought I'd ask. Actually the reason for this little post was because now that we know some things about Zune's next entry on the hardware front, there were a couple of things that went through my mind considering what we know about both the device (so far) and the software+services front (so far)."

Marques over at Inside The Circle has posted a nice summary of some of the bits of news that have been discovered throughout today. Worth a read!

Tags: updates, zune hd

Ars Technica Interview with Zune's Brian Seitz

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Articles & Resources" @ 06:48 PM


"Microsoft last night announced (officially) the Zune HD, even though the device won't be available for several months. While the product itself looks nice, it's the "platform" behind it that is finally coming to fruition and may be Microsoft's best chance at capturing a bigger slice of those home entertainment dollars. We spoke with Brian Seitz, the group marketing manager for Zune, about the new product and Microsoft's larger strategic ambitions. Here's everything you need to know..."

Brian Seitz fills in a few of the blanks that we've been wondering about. First, the connector on the Zune HD is the same as other Zunes, so that means all those Zune accessories out there right now will work. Excellent news! That's what I was hoping Microsoft would do, but you never know sometimes with these big corporations. The Web browser is based on IE6, but unlike the browser in Windows Mobile 6.5 (which it has to be related to), it probably won't have Flash support - but Seitz says it's possible. They're still working on the software it seems - which isn't surprising given the Fall release date. Read more...

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