Zune Thoughts - Daily News, Views, Rants and Raves

Be sure to register in our forums! Share your opinions, help others, and enter our contests.

Laptop Thoughts

Loading feed...

Windows Phone Thoughts

Loading feed...

Digital Home Thoughts

Loading feed...

All posts tagged "zune"

Friday, November 3, 2006

Belkin Goes Crazy Over Zune

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Accessories" @ 01:30 PM


A great case and car kit: those are two accessories I'm on the lookout for, and the ones that Belkin is preparing for Zune launch day seem like a good fit. A couple are featured below, but if you want to see them all, check out the Gizmodo news post.

TuneBase FM ($79): a car kit with an FM transmitter, programmable memory, and LCD display that plugs into a vehicle's cigarette lighter port (and judging by that green light, we're assuming it makes juice). Also included is a line-out port, if your stereo happens to feature a line-in port.

Folio Kickstand Case ($29): Soft, leathery goodness with a kickstand to enhance that portable video experience.

Other accessories: TunePower ($59), Acrylic Case ($29), Holster Case ($29), Neoprene Sports Armband Case ($29), Sports Jacket Case with Armband ($19), and Zune Screen Protector ($14). If Belkin's Pocket PC screen protectors are any indication, we suggest you stay right away from its Zune screen protector (unless you like a bit of goo).

MSN Music Hangs Up the Boots

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 08:53 AM


"Beginning November 14th, 2006, MSN Music will no longer offer music downloads through the MSN Music store. The "Buy" buttons that you are used to seeing on the MSN Music album and artist pages will change to links that connect you to Zune and Real Rhapsody."

If you were one of the many who said that some of Microsoft's existing music stores would die in favour of the Zune Marketplace, you get a brownie point. Starting November 14, customers of MSN Music (a giant in the United States, Australia, and parts of Europe) will be referred to the Zune Marketplace and Real Rhapsody for online music purchases. What will this mean for songs you've already purchased? Not much. They'll still play in accordance with the existing DRM rules (five authorised computers, support for CD burning, and transfer to compatible PlaysForSure devices), and will still receive support from Microsoft even after the store closes its doors. Furthermore, any existing credit will be refundable on or after November 14, though whether this will be able to be channeled into Microsoft Points is still uncertain.

On to the bigger picture, the death of MSN Music probably won't affect the US all that much. After all, with URGE, Rhapsody, and (soon) the Zune Marketplace up and running, customers will have plenty of choice as far as PlaysForSure and Zune devices are concerned. What's not yet known is whether MSN Music stores outside of the US will also hang up the boots on November 14. If so, this will be an extremely damaging move. In Australia, for example, nineMSN Music is the largest Microsoft-based online music store (the iTunes Store takes the cake for being the largest overall). Its death would force consumers to look at lesser offerings, at least while the Zune remains a US-only release. As you can see, there are many questions that remain unanswered. Hopefully, this will become clearer in the coming days.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Download the Zune Desktop Theme Today

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Software" @ 08:15 PM


Click above for a larger version (1680 x 1050, 336KB).

Deep within the innards of the Zune Software page is a free Zune Desktop Theme for Windows XP. Download and install it and you'll see a new UI sporting Zune-like colours (dark grey and bright orange) and Zune wallpaper for standard and widescreen displays. Go get it, especially if you grow weary of the common Luna blue.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Zune Pays to Share?

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 09:35 PM


"Damn it. Quit yanking my chain. Now it turns out that Microsoft just may reward you for sharing tunes with the Zune media player after all, if a recently leaked whitepaper is to be believed. The document outlines "off-line economies for digital media", describing how you can "sell" content to another Zune owner while still sending the profits to the copyright holder. In exchange, maybe you get some brownie points or something. The paper goes on to talk about immediate purchases on-the-go, Bluetooth sharing, anti-piracy practices, and so forth."

Courtesy of Artghost.com

Well, that's the buzz going around, but I'm not convinced. The whitepaper (PDF) talks about an isolated, tamper-resistant economic ecosystem composed of media players, eager sellers and buyers, and a whole lot of care factor. It has merit, but seems difficult to execute with current-generation Zune devices. Maybe it'll have a place in a few years time, when Microsoft has its digital partners sorted, enhanced hardware, and a more widespread market base. After all, it's a Microsoft Research paper centred highly on theoretical material. Such material often takes a few years to come into effect, if at all. Although, now that I think about it, if it really did come into effect, would I really want every Zune user on the street bugging me to buy their tunes? Probably not. I'll go to a store for that.

Microsoft Gives the Xbox 360 Some Zune Love

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Software" @ 12:07 AM


"Part of the change to the streaming story is the addition of Windows Media Player 11 and Zune™ as supported PC streaming software. If you install WMP 11 or Zune, it takes over for Windows Media Connect, and you manage connections from within the player itself (look for Media Sharing in WMP 11 or the Zune software). You can, of course, continue to use Windows Media Connect if you don't install WMP 11 or Zune."

Yesterday's Fall Dashboard update for the Xbox 360 added many new features - among them, support for Zune. With the update in place, the Zune software (or Windows Media Player 11 or Windows Media Connect) allows you to stream content from your Windows XP-based or Windows Vista-based PC to any Xbox 360. The upside here is that you no longer need a Media Center PC, which was originally a requirement when the Xbox 360 launched late last year. In addition, the Dashboard update allows you to stream music, pictures, and video (we're assuming wirelessly) directly from your Zune to an Xbox 360. The moment Zune launches (and the moment we can get our hands on one), we'll show you how the Xbox 360 and Zune add up.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Customized Zunes For Auction

Posted by Darius Wey in "Thoughts Media Off Topic" @ 12:00 PM


Say hello to customized Zunes. Unlike the U2 and Product Red versions of its rival, there aren't that many of these going around (just two of each [Union, Stussy, Undftd], making six in total). They come complete with logo art and staff-picked playlists, with Shure E5c headphones, JBL On Tour portable speakers, and a ZeroHalliburton 5" black aluminum attache. No, don't bother hitting Amazon. These are up for auction only with bids to be placed via e-mail until November 13. Check out the digital flipbook for more information. Any of you interested? ;-)

No UK Zune Until 2008?

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 10:15 AM


"Although the device is on track for release in the US on November 17th, it will miss the lucrative Christmas market in the UK and Europe this year and possibly next, according to a report in New Media Age. One reason for the delay is reported to be that Microsoft has had no one to head up a UK and European launch – however the recently appointed head of Zune International will be building relationships in those areas."

There's word on the streets that Microsoft hasn't found a suitable Zune Marketplace provider in the UK, which sets the UK release date well into the future. One can only hope that by then, they will be marketing next-generation Zune devices. Having the first-generation Zune on store shelves in 2008 is a no-go zone as far as market penetration is concerned.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Steve Kaneko Tackles the Brown Question

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 07:40 PM


"Why brown? Because love it or hate it, people feel something. Artists and musicians take chances everyday, and so will we. What few people haven’t seen yet is that we didn’t stop with just brown, we encased it in an “anti-freeze green” double-shot. There’s nothing like it out there that resembles the warmth and grittiness of certain styles of music. It is both formal and informal. And it appeals to men and women. It’s a color that’s both everyday and high fashion at the same time"

I guess that's a fair response to Microsoft's choice of brown as the trademark colour of the Zune. I'll admit that it's grown on me. The brown Zune doesn't seem as bad now as it did weeks ago when it was first revealed, though I'm still a sucker for the black Zune with its cool blue trim. Back to the interview, Steve goes on to discuss other aspects of the Zune design. Most of it is focused on the current. I'm actually interested in the future. What does Microsoft have in store for the second-generation Zune and beyond, and even nano-sized Zune devices (assuming they're in the making)?

Zune Offers New Opportunity for iPod Accessory Makers

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Accessories" @ 09:19 AM


"iPod killers have come and gone, but even Apple acknowledges that its popular multimedia player is going to face some stiff competition from Microsoft’s Zune this holiday season. And when the $249 device debuts next month, it figures to draw attention not just from consumers, but from companies that have enjoyed a booming business making accessories and add-ons for the iPod."

Accessories have always played a huge part in the digital media industry - even more so over the past few years following the success of the iPod. A number of accessory makers have leveraged the power and portability of the iPod and extended the music listening experience to the gym, cars, and even shoes. With the Zune set to be released next month, there's a new window of opportunity for said makers to expand even further. And we're already seeing that. A good handful of them have already partnered with Microsoft and promised to deliver third-party accessories, so the industry is about to get a whole lot more bigger.

Monday, October 23, 2006

2Old2Play's Hands-On Time with the Zune

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 03:29 AM


"The top of the Zune had a clear glass layer while the exterior had a tactile feel to it, nothing like the hard metal and plastic of the iPod devices. The ‘skin’ of the Zune was a ‘rubberized’ material that had a smooth seductive feel to it. I found myself unable to stop stroking the device, so much that the demo assistant asked me to put it down."

2Old2Play is the latest site to join those that were lucky enough to score some hands-on time with the Zune. Their article covers a couple of new points on Zunetags and the software component of the Zune product. Head over there and give it a read.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Speck Preparing Tough Case

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Accessories" @ 07:51 PM


Zuneguy's Bill Wittress has posted an image of an upcoming Zune "Tough Case" from Speck, a company well-known for its iPod accessories. Alas, it's nothing more than a teaser at this stage. No details on price, size, or toughness have been revealed. Although, as far as the latter is concerned, we expect a "Tough Case" to live up to its name and withstand the force of a monster truck, Strong Guy's fist, and even Godzilla. We'll fill you in on details as they come in.

Zune Battery Life Figures Revealed

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 07:30 PM


Microsoft has just revealed battery life figures for the Zune. First, the good news: wireless doesn't suck much juice, and the hours you can get out of a single charge are very similar to the 30GB iPod. With music playback, the Zune will give you 13 hours with wireless on and 14 hours with wireless off (the 30GB iPod offers up to 14 hours). With video playback and picture slideshows, you'll get up to 4 hours (the 30GB iPod offers up to 4 hours and 3.5 hours respectively). So, what's the bad news? Truth be told, I would have preferred something more. It's great that the Zune doesn't lose out to the iPod, but a little disappointing that it doesn't do any better. Microsoft could have easily packed a better battery into the device to get 50% more hours, without adding any extra bulk. Well, I guess we'll wait and see what the second generation delivers.

Slyck Talks Zune and Creative Commons

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 07:49 AM


"Take a pre-existing license adopted hundreds of thousands of times. Mix creators and activists with DRM (Digital Rights Management.) Throw in a little Microsoft Zune technology and pour it all into a mixing bowl. Stir well and serve to several hundred thousand captive audience members in cups of controversy. It certainly appears that a firestorm has emerged out of Zune's "viral DRM" and the DRM clause in the Creative Commons license. Is this a blatant attack on Creative Commons creators or is all of this nothing more then a cloud of smoke?"

Drew Wilson at Slyck has posted an interesting article that discusses the possibility of Zune violating Creative Commons licenses. While many valid points are raised, most seem unlikely to put Microsoft and users of the Zune product in a spot of trouble. There's a fine line between offering users the freedom to share and protecting one's assets, and Microsoft has hit that line by implementing its 3 days / 3 plays feature. Microsoft can't detect any copyrights attached to media being shared, so a universal DRM wrapper is put in place. Copyrighted content stays protected, while everything else suffers, simply because it's better to stay safe than to feel sorry later.

Zune Drops an F-Bomb?

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 03:58 AM


"Microsoft’s forthcoming digital music player, dubbed Zune, may make some Hebrew speakers gasp. The name for the device -- which will take on the Apple iPod when released later this year -- sounds like a vulgarity, specifically the "f" word, in Hebrew... Hebrew linguists are divided over Zune. Tsila Ratner, the head of Hebrew courses in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London, says Zune is an unsuitable name for a product. However, Haggit Inbar-Littas, a 30-year veteran Hebrew teacher with the London Jewish Cultural Center, says while the name is "ridiculous" and close to the bad word, it’s unlikely to be mistaken."

I guess it's never easy coming up with a product name. As hard as a company may try to catch any unwanted interpretations, something always slips through the cracks.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Jobs on Zune's Sharing: Too Slow

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 06:52 AM


"I've seen the demonstrations on the Internet about how you can find another person using a Zune and give them a song they can play three times. It takes forever. By the time you've gone through all that, the girl's got up and left! You're much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear. Then you're connected with about two feet of headphone cable."

That's a quote from Newsweek's interview with Apple's head honcho, Steve Jobs. While the Zune's wireless sharing feature is a little crippled in its current form, I do think it has potential, yet Apple appears to not even embrace the concept. Could this say something about future iPods? Will they never incorporate any sort of sharing capabilities?

Friday, October 13, 2006

BostonPocketPC.com's Q&A with Bill Wittress

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 09:18 AM


"Zune, on the other hand, is highly tuned to a specific hardware set and it is designed to execute a specific set of features. As for the UI, it shares some visual similarities with PMC. However, the menu system is more refined (some might say Spartan) than PMC. We've been able to take some of the learnings from other UIs we've developed and incorporated those elements into the Zune player to continue to hone the experience. For example, we've paid attention to things such as focus and made changes to make it very intuitive and dare I say fun to use. I can go on and on about the similarities and differences between PMC and Zune. In the end, both are good device-side operating systems. I have a personal fondness for both and I think both are well suited for their purposes."

BostonPocketPC.com got together with Bill Wittress and fielded ten questions primarily covering DRM issues, the Portable Media Center (PMC) platform, filling stations, and integration with core Microsoft services. Give it a read, if you want to learn more about Zune.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ballmer: The Zune Isn't Losing Money

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 08:51 AM


"...our ability to embrace and benefit from or compete with new business models - and I would say ad-funded and open source, more than this hardware thing - is more the way to categorize the key competitive dynamic for us. [Does Zune fit into the hardware piece of this?] Sure it does. Because the value of Zune, if we're successful, is all in the software. It's in community [the ability to share music and pictures with other Zune users]. I want to squirt you a picture of my kids. You want to squirt me back a video of your vacation. That's a software experience. The truth is, though, if it makes money, it will be built into the gross margin on the hardware. We'll figure out how to make money on the community perhaps later though advertising or other means."

Steve Ballmer took time out recently to talk to BusinessWeek about the Zune, Xbox, and Windows Vista - where they're at now, and where they're heading. One of the major points to come out of the interview was the claim that the Zune, unlike the Xbox 360, would not be losing money through the sale of hardware alone. That's good news for Microsoft's accountants, but comes across as an awful lot less risk-taking by the company, though that's not necessarily a bad thing either. There's a time and place for gambling, and you certainly have to pick the right moment before taking the plunge and relying on the sale of accessories and media to cover any monetary losses in the sale of hardware - especially at this current stage, when the Zune brand is a mere blip on the radar, and demand is well short of that of the iPod.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Zunelicious Interviews Bill Wittress

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 09:31 AM


"I love working on Zune. It is incredibly entrepreneurial. You literally have 10 different things going on at any given time. On any given day you may meet with senior management, have an interview with an analyst, crunch numbers for finance and meet with a partner for dinner. The next day it will be completely different."

Zunelicious recently scored an interview with Zune's lord of accessories, Bill Wittress. He talks about some interesting things that we can expect next month - the magnitude of the launch, the quantity of accessories available, and integration with the Xbox 360. The latter is something I'm deeply interested in. Sure, MediaTags and device playback support are great, but there is so much potential still waiting to be unearthed. Here's hoping Microsoft makes up for the shortcomings with a firmware update.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Penny Arcade Talks Zune

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 07:55 PM


"Initially we regarded the device with suspicion, then anticipation, and then white-hot desire based on what a machine with those specifications could accomplish - the wireless fi, the wider screen, a sharp UI, and the indubitable Xbox 360 integration. I've got an unobtrusive Samsung player, yeah, but it's just a little solid state munchkin with 256 embarrassing megs - it's not exactly hitting giant crabs for massive damage. You can plug some headphones into it and it will play music. It's never going to play anything but music, or be a Live Anywhere client, or whatever. The screen on that Samsung is just large enough to see myself scowling in it. I mean, I do "get it." They're creating a new platform. And the 1.0 version of this platform isn't of interest to the discerning technophile, though we desperately wanted it to be. And I have every faith that some upgrade with an innocuous filename will, in the future, reshape the very soul of the device. But I don't need to have the device in hand while they prepare this apotheosis. Nor do I let food scraps and animal carcasses pile up in the living room because they might one day become petroleum."

Ah, the Penny Arcade guys have done it again. They've channeled their creative juices into a killer comic that talks about the nerfed Wi-Fi. And if you're interested in a more verbose opinion, check out their blog post too. Enjoy. ;-)

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Sharing Songs and Pictures with the Zune

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 09:52 PM


Figure 1: Discovering neighbouring Zunes (and what the user is listening to). Privacy alert! ;-)

And the videos just keep flowing. Duncan Mackenzie from on10.net, and his buddy, Brian Johnson, got their hands on two pre-production Zunes and decided to put Microsoft's 3 plays / 3 days sharing to the test. Everything seems quite fluid, though don't expect it to work all that great outside of the US, where come November 14, the Zune will be almost non-existent. Duncan's video is five-and-a-half minutes long. If you don't have time to watch it, check out some of our screen grabs after the break.


Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Sponsored links