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All posts tagged "zune"

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Zune Unboxed

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 09:03 PM


If you can't wait until November 14 and simply want to take the Zune out of its box now - even if you aren't there to play with it - then head over to CBS News, where you'll learn some colourful (excuse the pun) and questionable "facts" such as "brown is the new black is the new white". Most of Chris Stephenson's walkthrough focuses on the Zune's customisable UI, with attention on music and video playback, and setting pictures as wallpaper.

Tags: zune, microsoft, ui, box, unbox

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Zune vs. iPod - In Pictures!

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 11:16 PM


"I got face time with a Zune this weekend and decided to look at how the form factor compares to the 80GB iPod I picked up a few days ago. The Zune weighs considerably less than the iPod, although I didn't have a scale on hand to get exact comparison. It felt like the Zune was more comparable to my Cingular 2125 phone, while the iPod weighs quite a bit more."

Side-by-side with the iPod, the Zune does look larger in height and thickness. However, according to Jake Ludington, the Zune feels lighter, which is a real bonus. Jake's final pictures show the black Zune and the blue trim in all its glory (I'm really digging this colour scheme), with large album art and a neat UI (something I'm also digging). Check it out!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Accessories In the Box... And Out of the Box

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Accessories" @ 09:25 PM


Earlier in the week, we learned that the Zune would ship with three accessories in the box: a soft suede pouch (featured below; thanks to Zune Insider for the picture), headphones, and a USB sync-and-charge cable. Unfortunately, much like the current generation iPods, a wall charger is not included (featured above), so you will have to rely on the USB cable for juice. Of course, your options aren't limited. Amazon is proudly displaying the first batch of official Zune accessories with pictures and price tags for all to see. The costs do seem a little unbalanced - some fetching more than its true value. Hopefully, future third-party options won't be as damaging to the wallet.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pre-Loaded Content: What's Coming?

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Media" @ 09:14 AM


Included in today's press release are details on the Zune's swag of pre-loaded content. We have nine audio tracks, twelve music videos, three short films, and a variety of images. Obviously, tastes differ among us, but what do you think of the collection? Also, do you think its inclusion will help drive Zune sales?

Audio Tracks
• Band of Horses, “Wicked Gil” (Sub Pop Records)
• Bitter:Sweet, “The Mating Game” (Quango Music Group)
• CSS, “Alala (Microsoft edit)” (Sub Pop Records)
• Darkel, “At The End of The Sky (edit)” (Astralwerks)
• Every Move a Picture, “Signs of Life” (V2)
• Small Sins, “Stay” (Astralwerks)
• The Adored, “Tell Me Tell Me” (V2)
• The Rakes, “Open Book” (V2)
• The Thermals, “A Pillar of Salt” (Sub Pop Records)

Music Video
• 30 Seconds to Mars, “The Kill” (Virgin Records)
• BT, “1.618” (DTS Entertainment)
• Chad VanGaalen, “Red Hot Drops” (Sub Pop Records)
• Coldcut featuring Roots Manuva, “True Skool” (Ninja Tune)
• CSS, “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above” (Sub Pop Records)
• Fruit Bats, “Live: The Wind That Blew My Heart Away” (Sub Pop Records)
• Grandaddy, “Elevate Myself” (V2)
• Hot Chip, “Over and Over” (Astralwerks Records)
• Kraak & Smaak featuring Dez., “Keep Me Home” (Quango Music Group)
• Kinski, “Live: The Snowy Parts of Scandinavia” (Sub Pop Records)
• Paul Oakenfold, “Faster Kill Pussycat (Featuring Brittany Murphy)” (Maverick Records)
• Serena-Maneesh, “Drain Cosmetics” (Playlouderecordings)

Film Shorts
• 5 Boro: “A New York Skateboarding Minute” (Skateboarding)
• Radical Films: “Kranked — Progression” (Mountain Biking)
• TGRTV The North Face (Skiing/Snowboarding)

• A variety of images to personalize a Zune device, including 12 classic rock posters from “Art of Modern Rock”

Z Day: November 14, $249.99

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 08:54 AM


"Microsoft Corp. is putting the social into digital music, starting this holiday. Today the company announced that the Zune™ digital media player and online service will be available to consumers in the U.S. on Nov. 14, 2006, just in time for the holidays. The Zune device will retail for $249.99 U.S. (ERP) and will create new ways for entertainment fans to connect and share media experiences device-to-device through the use of wireless technology and new software scenarios."

Okay, folks. It's no longer a guessing game. The Zune will launch in the United States on November 14 for $249.99 (trivially discarding previous discussion about Microsoft not being undercut by Apple, since the Zune is priced at 99 cents more than the 30GB iPod). Accessories will range from $19.99 to $99.99, and can be bought individually or as packs (additional details after the break).


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Microsoft: "We Won't Be Undercut By Apple"

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 05:30 AM

Well, those of you hoping for Zune to be cheaper than the 30GB iPod have a reason to stay positive. Matt Jubelirer, a product manager for Zune, recently stated the magic words: "we won't be undercut by Apple". And David Caulton, who runs the Zunester blog seems to jibe with it all. While not exactly a word-for-word "it's $249 or less", this is one of the strongest hints yet that the iPod won't be beating the Zune on price this Christmas. Oh, and all that buzz surrounding Wal-Mart and its leak? Like I said in that post, take it with a grain. ;-)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Your Favourite Zune Colour?

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 06:16 PM

Simple post. Which of the three Zune colours do you prefer? Note the existence of the colour trim around the edge of the device (green with brown, blue with black, and black with white). Personally, I still haven't decided between black and white. As for the brown, well, that's a little out of my league. ;-)

Brown Zune with green colour trim [click here for a high-resolution version].

Black Zune with blue colour trim [click here for a high-resolution version].

White Zune with black colour trim [click here for a high-resolution version].

Microsoft Answers Your Zune Questions

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 05:51 AM

Cesar at the Zune Insider blog and David at the Zunester blog took time out to answer some of the more popular Zune-related questions out there. Here's a summary:

Podcast Support
In a nutshell, podcasts are supported. By having the WMA or MP3 file in your Zune library, you can simply transfer it and play it on the Zune. Extended support (for example, subscriptions, automatic downloading, etc.), as currently visible in iTunes and the iTunes Store, is still a while away, though should be present in future Zune releases.

Additional Codecs
David had this to say: "First, a lot of folks wanted to know why Zune isn't supporting some additional codecs - notably Ogg and FLAC. This is a good question, and we did spent a lot of time in the early days going through lists of codecs. In the end, we opted to focus on the most mainstream codecs first (and really getting them right - each codec is its own implementation challenge). We’re certainly actively considering codecs in the future, but for now we think the list we’ve got answers the most users’ needs."

Tagging and Indexing
David went on to mention that the Zune indexes all supported media (music, pictures, videos), and its operation is fast. If you have missing tag data, a background web service automatically fills in any holes (I'm just hoping this is miles ahead of what Windows Media Player currently offers).

Monday, September 18, 2006

Wal-Mart Says $284

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 08:10 PM

"Thanks to some vigilant Wal-Mart watching by a friendly tipster, we've got a good idea as to the Zune pricetag, though we're still no closer to a specific launch date. By the time we got to the Zune's product page, the pricing info had been removed, but it can still be spotted in the MP3 player category listing at a lean $284 flat."

Earlier today, Engadget reported that Wal-Mart leaked the not-too-shabby price of $284. Microsoft still hasn't released any official pricing details, so the advice here is that until Microsoft spills the beans, take whatever figure you see with a grain of salt. ;-)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Stereogum and MOKB Examine the Zune

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 07:50 PM

"That's where Microsoft's challenge lies. Zune provides a few improvements over iPod but, as much as Microsoft acknowledges the inevitability of a device-based dialogue, its aspirations lay far beyond the unit itself; with Zune, the company wants to redefine the market for purchased music, going from the "closed" system of Apple to an open community -- an "army of promoters" –- changing the way music is discovered (via wireless-device sharing of songs and playlists) and purchased (via Zune's subscription service)."

A few bloggers (Stereogum and MOKB, among others) managed to score some personal time with the Zune last week. They cover quite a few aspects of the device and service - appearance, weight, dimensions, the colours (and the trim), the joys of integrated Wi-Fi, the ability to personalise the UI, and the all-you-can-eat Zune Pass. Check out what they have to say! All in all, the Zune has potential. With aggressive marketing and solid product maturation from now until the holiday season and beyond, Microsoft just might be able to steal some of the limelight from Apple.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Zune Video Overview: Chris Stephenson and Tony Kiewel

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 06:51 PM

We've put together another video from some of the stock video footage provided by Microsoft. Both Chris Stephenson, General Manager of Global Marketing, and Tony Kiewel, Head of A&R Sub Pop Records have a bit to say on what Zune is and what it has to offer. A YouTube version can be found below (quality isn't great, but it's easy to access).

Also, if you missed the selection of Q&As with Chris Stephenson from earlier in the day, check out our "Diving Deep on the Zune" article.

Diving Deep on the Zune: Q&A with Microsoft

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 08:19 AM

Continuing on from yesterday's "Diving Deep on the Zune" article, we have a selection of Q&As from the conference call with Microsoft. People in attendance were Microsoft's Cesar Menendes, General Manager of Marketing Chris Stephensen, Harvey from Zunerama, and Jason Dunn from our very own Zune Thoughts. The text below was transcribed from the latter 15 minutes of the conference call. Read on for more!

Harvey: There is some speculation that with the DJ-ing feature transmitting to nearby Zunes - will each owner be able to assign a nickname to their Zune, so that it's identifiable who you're DJ-ing to?

Chris: Absolutely, yeah. You'll have a name, every Zune will have a name, every person in the community will have a name. You know, we call them gamertags in the Xbox Live community. So you'll have your own Zunetag in this community as well. When you buy a device and join the community, you'll sign up and you'll give your device a name and you'll give yourself a name, so you'll know exactly who you're sharing to in your local area. You can have your friends list of all the people that you have selected, like you do in instant messaging, for example. You've got all your buddies. You can actually just select the guys that you want to share with, and join into that community. We haven't gone specific about an announcement on that DJ-ing feature, but you're probably referring to the Toshiba article on that, and the nice thing about having a wireless device here is that there's many scenarios that we can enable in the future. We call it future-proofing, so we got a roll-out of really interesting scenarios for 2007 that will bring the whole wireless idea to the next level. So, very much part of the rollout plan is being able to establish and create new features as we go along. That's definitely something to look out for in 2007.

Harvey: Chris, one thing that I haven't seen out there in the material releases today are the dimensions and weight of the player.

Chris: The player is exactly the same weight as an iPod Video. In fact, we're 5.6 ounces. They're 5.5, if you want to be really technical. It's pretty much the same size as an iPod Video. We are 4.4" x 2.4". They're 4.1" x 2.4". It's a little less than a quarter of an inch taller. It's basically a little taller, the same weight, and the same width.

Jason: And the thickness?

Chris: They are 0.47", and we are 0.58". So, we're a little thicker.

Harvey: Okay, and that's comparing it with an 80GB iPod?

Chris: That's comparing it with an 80GB, and the 30GB is exactly the same. In fact, the 80GB and the 30GB for the iPod are the same. The 30GB is 4.8 ounces. The difference is actually screen size. The screen size [of the Zune] is quite a bit bigger - it's 3". It's got the wireless built-in as well, so that little bit of additional thickness is really down to the additional features that are inside, and there is also a radio receiver in there.

Jason: Can we talk about the battery life for a little bit? Are you committing to any numbers in terms of Wi-Fi on or off, or video playback... that kind of stuff?

Chris: There is so much sort of development work, and as you guys know, in the technology process, you're working on maximizing the firmware on that stuff right up to release. What I can say right now is we're not releasing those specific details. As soon as we do, we'll let you guys know. I will give you a couple of quick hints at it, though. I actually have the numbers right in front of me. We are quicker to full charge. Over a period of two hours, there's significantly more charge than an iPod. In terms of the overall battery life, in terms of music, pictures, video - it's very comparable. We haven't got specific numbers. It's very comparable to all iPod Video scenarios. Sometime, probably in the middle of October, we'll get closer on some of those specs.

Jason: Now is that the new iPod that has the enhanced battery life, or are you guys comparing yourself to the older units?

Chris: This is all the brand new stuff that has been recently released. Yes.

Jason: Perfect.

Harvey: There's a lot of speculation out there about the effects of Wi-Fi on the battery. Can you tell us how you're testing it?

Chris: To get a detailed response on that, I'm not the right guy to talk to. That would be more like a Greg Gibson question. He's our head of engineering. The basic principle is that the way the software and the firmware is being created is to maximize the... basically, you're only utilizing Wi-Fi when you're utilizing Wi-Fi. That's the very simple way of looking at it. When you're sending, it's only Wi-Fi. It's not like Wi-Fi is on permanently - sort of burning down the battery. When we launch, that's what you're going to have. You're going to have a system that's Wi-Fi when you want it to be Wi-Fi, and otherwise it's not. Effectively, the headline on that is Wi-Fi is not a significant limiter of battery life, based on the way we've written the engineering specifications.

Harvey: Related to the battery, I think the biggest complaint we get about the iPod is that the battery is not replaceable. When it dies, you have to replace the iPod. Is the Zune - is that a non-replaceable battery?

Chris: It is, yeah. It is actually a similar product in that respect.

Harvey: How about release dates? Can you confirm any of those?

Chris: Um, release... Sorry, did you say Apple release dates?

Harvey: Sorry, release dates for the first Zune player and the service?

Chris: We haven't released the specific date right now. It is Holiday '06. So we'll be coming to market on Holiday '06. We're working around a few different dates. There's a huge amount of stuff going on around the holiday period, so I don't think it'll be a surprise to anyone to say it's November. But we haven't announced that, and we're waiting to get the right day, and just see everything else that's going on in the market at the moment.

Jason: Getting back to the battery for just a second here, I think in the FCC documents, they specified that it was 700mA. Can you confirm that that's going to be the final shipping battery size?

Chris: I could not, quite frankly. There's a certain amount of things that you guys might need to know about that we need to follow up on. A lot of the detailed tech specs - I'm not really the right person to speak to.

Harvey: Can you tell us about the pricing? $299 has been a well publicized rumor. Might that change with the Apple announcement this week?

Chris: Well, you know. We've always said that we'll be a parity with the market. We'll be at the right place for the market. We haven't announced price right now, and you're right, $299 has been banded around. I've seen $199, $249, $299, and even $329. We haven't announced the price right now. Watch this space is the way to answer that.

Harvey: It's interesting that Apple split the differences with their two updated iPods...

Chris: Yeah, it's interesting that they decided to reduce the price of the 30GB. It's come down $50. That's obviously a huge financial hitch. I'm not sure what they think we're doing. It's certainly an interesting thing to do - to reduce the price of a good-selling product like that - that was selling well at $299. We'll take it as it is. It's an interesting move on their part, and it's an interesting opportunity in the market place.

Harvey: Just about the Marketplace, and I apologize if this is in the specs. Is there pricing release for the subscription services?

Chris: No, we actually haven't released pricing on any of the products or Marketplace products at the moment.

Integration of Services: Marketplace and Points

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

Earlier in the year, back when Zune was hardly a blip on the radar, I wrote an article that discussed the potential of Zune. It consisted of facts and rumours, but also some burning thoughts on my mind that I just had to get out in the open. With the Xbox 360 riding high, there were many things Microsoft could do with the Zune to make it a truly integrated experience. And based on all that was revealed yesterday, Microsoft is heading in the right direction.

Let's take a look at the Xbox 360. With internet connectivity, it connects directly to Xbox Live and the accompanying Xbox Live Marketplace, which is home to a plethora of free and paid content. Purchasing content is simple. You always have the option of using a credit card, or Microsoft's online currency system known as Microsoft Points, which can be acquired online or over the counter. But hang on, why a second option? Why complicate matters? Credit cards work remarkably well, don't they? Well, sure, but what if you don't have a credit card? Of course, if you're in that boat, you're stuck. Whatever the reason - age, employment status, bad credit rating, or even plain old fear of using credit cards online - Microsoft Points offers an alternative method of payment. In addition, they can be used for micro-transactions, effectively bypassing the minimum transaction amounts that some banks impose on their customers. They can also reduce the number of credit transactions, and thus, the number of credit transaction fees. Oh, and on a completely unrelated note, Points cards make great gifts too.

Now, when I wrote that article back in July, I hinted that Microsoft Points would work great in the Zune's online store, which of course, we now know as the Zune Marketplace. And guess what? It's going to happen. If you have an Xbox Live membership, you can transfer Points from the Xbox Live Marketplace to the Zune Marketplace, and vice versa (using the same Windows Live ID). If you're buying Points fresh off the shelf, you can use it in both Marketplaces. Whether it's the Halo 3 picture pack or the award-winning album from John Legend, Microsoft Points serves as a single currency system allowing people from all walks of life to sample some Marketplace action. In the future, we may see a rewards-based system centred on Points, and even access to hardware purchases. It's all part of Microsoft's vision to centralising and integrating their digital entertainment products and services.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Accessorizing the Zune

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Accessories" @ 10:51 AM

So, a fresh new player means no accessories, right? Wrong. Microsoft cracked the whip and burned the midnight oil to give us three accessory packs to enhance our Zune experience.

Zune Car Pack
"Designed exclusively for use with Zune, the Car Pack includes everything you need to hit the road with your Zune device. With AutoSeek, setup is easy, and you can enjoy your music on the go and charge your device at the same time. When you buy the Zune Car Pack, you’ll get the FM tuner with Autoseek and the Car Charger. All items in the full line of Zune accessories are also available individually."

• Zune FM tuner with AutoSeek
• Zune Car Charger

Zune Home A/V Pack
"Designed exclusively for use with Zune, the Home A/V Pack includes everything you need to amplify your Zune experience. This set of five products integrates Zune with your big-screen TV and the best speakers in your house. And the wireless remote puts you in control from virtually anywhere in the room. When you buy the Zune Home AV Pack, you’ll get the AC Adapter, AV Output Cable, Dock, Sync Cable and Wireless Remote. All items in the full line of Zune accessories are also available individually."

• Zune AC Adapter
• Zune A/V Output Cable
• Zune Dock
• Zune Sync Cable
• Zune Wireless Remote with Lithium Battery (CR2032)

Zune Travel Pack
"Designed exclusively for use with Zune, the Travel Pack includes everything you need to travel with your Zune device in style. This set of five products is designed to keep you and your friends and family entertained while you travel. When you buy the Zune Travel Pack, you’ll get the Dual Connect Remote, Premium Earphones, Gear Bag, Sync Cable and AC Adapter. All items in the full line of Zune accessories are also available individually."

• Zune Gear Bag
• Zune Premium Earphones with storage case
• Zune Dual Connect Remote
• Zune Sync Cable
• Zune AC Adapter

But Wait, There's More!
Yes, Microsoft is playing this one smart. They've signed deals with many leading accessory manufacturers, so there will be plenty of third-party options for the budget-conscious to the geeks wanting more. On the list, Altec Lansing, Belkin Corp., Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO), Dual Electronics, Griffin Technology, Harman Kardon and JBL, Integrated Mobile Electronics, Jamo International, Klipsch Audio Technologies, Logitech, Monster Cable Products Inc., Speck, Targus Group International Inc. and VAF Research.

Folks, It's Z Day!

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 09:42 AM

That's right. Today's Z Day - when all things Zune come out of the Microsoft offices and into the hands of the public. We've got official press information, pictures of the device (none of that blurry FCC stuff), and words straight from the mouths of folks on the Zune team.

First, what is the Zune project all about? Today, we start to realise that Microsoft's vision of "community" could not be any clearer. It struck gold with Xbox Live by connecting gamers worldwide. It plans to do the same with the Zune by connecting music fans worldwide, from the average music lover to the audiophile. All in all, these visions form this global picture of "connected entertainment". Quoting the words of Cesar over at the Zune Insider blog, "Take MySpace, YouTube, Xbox Live, and every cool record store on the planet. Then add 1000 of your closest friends, and make it all accessible though a little device in your pocket. That’s what we’re doing with Zune."

Moving on, what's in the Zune? Yes, it's confirmed. The Zune, available in three colours (white, black, and brown), is a 30GB media player with a bright 3" LCD - that's enough storage for up to 7,500 songs, 25,000 pictures, or 100 hours of video. You can create playlists and you can create slideshows, but more importantly, package all of your different media into different recommendations and experiences that you can share with your friends. Directly related, the Zune features wireless connectivity, so you can share your media (yes, for the doubters among us - that's media in its entirety from start to finish) and play it back with limitations (up to three times in three days). Like what you see/hear? Flag it. Find it later. Buy it later. Sounds simple! And keeping with tradition, we all know of Xbox Live's download central as the Xbox Live Marketplace. The Zune's service will be called the Zune Marketplace, and it supports individual track or album downloads, and all-you-can-eat Zune Pass subscriptions (take that, Apple). The fun doesn't stop there. An integrated FM tuner is included, and it supports RDS, so not only can you pull audio from stations, you can view track information too.

Enough rambling, though. Jason has posted the press information in the previous post. There's oodles at Zune Insider to absorb. Head over to Coming Zune and check out the updated clip (be prepared for a raging bird). And of course, we'll be keeping you updated throughout the day, so keep your eyes and ears (it's all about the audio, right?) locked on Zune Thoughts.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Preloaded Zune Tunes

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Media" @ 01:39 AM

Those of you with an Xbox 360 will know that Microsoft isn't new to the preloaded content game. Earlier in the month, our friends at Zune Insider and Madison and Pine revealed that the Zune would ship with some audio and video from a number of artists. While the final list is still under revision, we do have confirmed reports on four artists, and you can expect many more to be announced shortly. Bookmark this thread if you wish to stay updated!

Cansei de Ser Sexy (CSS) - a Brazilian fusion of pop, rock, and electronica.
Hot Chip - an electro-pop band well-known to the UK.
30 Seconds to Mars - an alternative rock band that recently received an MTV nomination for the song, "The Kill".
Serena-Maneesh - a Norwegian indie group that has reached out to all corners of the globe.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Zune: Pleasure or Displeasure to the Senses?

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 10:38 PM

You've probably already checked out the Zune in all its FCC glory. Now it's time for you to voice your thoughts. Perhaps you're worried about the size. You may like or dislike the button arrangement. Not a fan of the colours? Whatever the case, let us know what you think about the aesthetics of the Zune.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Zune Eye-Candy

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Hardware" @ 09:37 PM

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well, we have 28,000 of them for you, courtesy of the FCC.

The FCC report is legitimate, so there are no question marks here. On the front, you can see a circular control pad, flanked by a "Back" button and a "Play/Pause" button.

The bottom of the Zune features a sync-and-charge connector. The top houses a headphone jack. The rear has an all-too-familiar Zune logo printed on it.

Above, you'll find a series of shots of the Zune's system board from all angles.

Attached to it is Toshiba's 30GB 1.8" HDD.

Yeah, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, baby!

The Zune includes a reasonably-sized 3.0" low-temperature TFT-LCD, great for viewing album art, browsing your media library, and watching videos (for those who doubted it, an FCC document indicates that the latter is supported).

Proof, once again, that the Zune contains a spinning platter.

Housed within the Zune is a 3.7V Li-Ion battery. It looks to be non-user-replaceable, but we'll learn more about this in the coming weeks.

The FCC's product testing environments are never visually appealing, but thanks to their provision of Zune-related images, we forgive 'em.

Black is back.

And apparently, so is chocolate brown.

Seeing images like this prompts an important question. Will the Zune only connect and talk to Windows-based PCs, or will it befriend Macs as well? iTunes' compatibility with both Windows and Mac OS has helped the iPod transform into a raging success worldwide. Microsoft owes it to itself to follow suit.

FCC Reveals Zune: Guts and Glory

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 08:41 AM

"Well, here's a bit of a surprise: a wireless PMP just showed up on the FCC, featuring a 30GB HDD, FM tuner and a strangely familiar 3-inch screen. And it ain't being manufactured by Microsoft. Instead it looks like Microsoft got their good pal Toshiba to produce the Zune, which not only saves Microsoft the job of gearing up some production lines for the thing, but seems to keep them from stepping on at least one PlayForSure licensee's toes. Things get more interesting from there, since the documentation refers to those other heavily bandied code names: "Pyxis" and "Argo." From the looks of things, Pyxis seems to be the name for the network which Zune devices will use to share content, since in the "DJing Content" section it states that "Pyxis allows you to stream music to up to 4 other Pyxis devices." A bit more confusing, however, is that "You can invite other Argo members that you meet to be your friends wirelessly." Of course, it's always likely that they hadn't gotten all the codenames smoothed out by the time they wrote that up, but it's clear that the Zune player as we know it is only a small part of the overall "Zune" plan."

engadget has posted a great story about the Zune: FCC documents have been discovered that tell us more about the Zune than ever. The reason why the Zune was submitted to the FCC is due to the integrated WiFi: anything that sends a wireless signal must be approved by the FCC. And since the FCC started putting documents up on the Web, almost every new phone and wireless gadget has been "exposed" this way. We'll unravel the FCC Zune documents in a series of posts today...but it looks like our logo design was on target.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What is the Zune?

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 10:51 AM

One of our readers kindly informed us that in the excitement of the launch of Zune Thoughts, we failed to mention what the Zune was, and so he had to perform a quick web search to find out more. Not too surprising, really. There hasn't been much Zune-related publicity in print and visual media, and most of the buzz surrounding the product has been generated from blogs, internet news sites, and teaser pages. Over the days, weeks, and months, we'll be revealing the Zune slowly and steadily, similar to the peeling of the layers of an onion (without the pungent smell, of course). To kick things off, this post will give a quick "5W" analysis of the Zune. For those of you who have been tracking past and present Zune-related news, you won't find anything new here. This post scrapes the surface of the Zune, and serves to provide a basic overview of what the Zune is and what it has to offer.

What: Zune is a collective term describing the hardware, software, and services behind a new Microsoft-driven portable digital entertainment experience. All three components will be heavily tied together, much like the successful Xbox and Xbox Live model. Unlike other digital audio players driven by Microsoft technologies, the Zune will be unique in that everything will be born and bred within Microsoft, without the interference of OEM partners.

Who: As you've probably worked out, Microsoft is the company behind the Zune. Digging deeper, some of the folk behind the Xbox 360 are the brains behind it all.

When: The Zune isn't a Microsoft project lasting several months. While the first-generation Zune device is expected in the fourth quarter of 2006, the project will continue for many years as successive models are released with new features enhancing the overall integrated experience.

Where: The Zune will initially launch in the United States. By the end of 2007, the product line will expand and be made available in multiple countries.

Why: Microsoft's plan to rejuvenate its presence in the portable digital entertainment market isn't simply about replicating the functions of other digital audio players. The company plans to go the extra mile by tapping into this core theme of "community and discovery", which it knows a lot about, thanks to the successful Xbox model. Visiting an online media store won't just be about purchasing the media, but rather, an additional opportunity to share media (both purchased and user-created), share experiences, and so on. And then in the bigger picture, extending and integrating that Zune experience with other Microsoft products such as Media Center, Windows Mobile, Windows Live, Xbox 360, Xbox Live, and the list continues. Many have argued that the Zune is simply an iPod clone, but based on the hints that Microsoft has dropped over the past couple of months, it's a lot more than just a clone, and as we approach Christmas, we'll start to see the Zune take shape and its features become clearer.

Want to see Microsoft's official teaser page? Visit Coming Zune.

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