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Microsoft unveils Zune digital media player (images)

post #1 of 206
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Attempting to lure the spotlight from Apple Computer and its new line of digital media products, Microsoft Corp. on Thursday officially unveiled its upcoming Zune digital media player to the media.

Calling it the "next big milestone" for connected entertainment, the world's largest software maker said Zune will feature 30GB of hard disk storage and come in three colors: white, black, -- and we kid you not -- brown.

The device will also include wireless technology, a built-in FM tuner and a 3-inch screen when it goes on sale later this holiday season. Zune users will be able to share content wirelessly with other Zune users and purchase new content from the "Zune Marketplace."

"The digital music entertainment revolution is just beginning," said J Allard, vice president, design and development, at Microsoft, who is leading the charge for building the family of Zune products. "With Zune, we are not simply delivering a portable device, we are introducing a new platform that helps bring artists closer to their audiences and helps people find new music and develop new social connections."

Microsoft said each Zune will come preloaded with content from record labels such as DTS, EMI Music's Astralwerks Records and Virgin Records, Ninja Tune, Playlouderecordings, Quango Music Group, Sub Pop Records, and V2/Artemis Records.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company will also make available three accessory packs to "help Zune users enjoy their music where they want to, at home or on the road." A Zune "Car Pack" will include a car charger, while a "Home A/V Pack" will combine an AV output cable, dock, sync cable, AC adapter and wireless dock remote. The third kit, dubbed "Zune Travel Pack" will offer "premium" earphones, a dual connect remote, a gear bag, sync cable and AC adapter.



Microsoft also said it is working with leading accessory manufacturers -- including Altec Lansing, Belkin, DLO, Dual Electronics, Griffin Technology, Harman Kardon and JBL -- to provide consumers with additional options "to customize and personalize their Zune experience."

"In addition to the features available at launch, built-in wireless technology and powerful software provide a strong foundation to continue to build new shared experiences around music and video," the company said. "As Zune evolves, the device can be easily updated. The Zune software on your PC will let you know when these updates are available for download."

Microsoft, which faces an uphill battle in catching up with Apple's iPod, has yet to provide a firm launch date for the device. So far, analysts on Wall Street have downplayed Zune, calling it a "repackaged Toshiba Gigabeat player" that stands to offer more bark than bite.
post #2 of 206
Isn't it kinda stupid to only offer a bigger HD player when the hottest sellers are flash based models like the nano and shuffle?

And no pricing announced?
post #3 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder

Isn't it kinda stupid to only offer a bigger HD player when the hottest sellers are flash based models like the nano and shuffle?

And no pricing announced?


Everything I've seen so far said that the target price was $299
post #4 of 206
Wow. I was a tad underwhelmed by Apple's showtime event.

But this thing makes Apple look so much better right now.

PS I think that shade of brown is known as "babyshit"...
post #5 of 206
To be fair I think it's pretty cool, apart from the dimensions maybe. 3 inch speaker, and the ability to wirelessly and easily transfer files? Apple can't provide that..
post #6 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider

The device will also include wireless technology, a built-in FM tuner and a 3-inch screen when it goes on sale later this holiday season. Zune users will be able to share content wirelessly with other Zune users and purchase new content from the "Zune Marketplace."


hmmm....if people are able to share music with other Zune users, that will pretty much defy copyright laws. Obviously, it's pretty indescript as to what you'll be able to share. This would probably anger the record companies too, in fear that somebody will (and probably easily) hack the Zune to be able to share DRM'd material.
post #7 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by DCQ

PS I think that shade of brown is known as "babyshit"...

brilliant...
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post #8 of 206
"Brown is the new black".

Seriously, as someone mentioned. I too was underwhelmed with this past Tuesday's announcements (will except for iTunes 7).

Love that some labels (Astralwerks Records, Virgin Records, V2) will pre-load music on their player (I wonder if sub-pop would load some vintage tracks from the 90's?--That would be awesome!!). Otherwise, I hope this pushes Apple to keep innovating their digital portable players ("I'm looking at you 5th generation iPod!!").
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post #9 of 206
It looks very chocolately. 8)
post #10 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by akerman

To be fair I think it's pretty cool, apart from the dimensions maybe. 3 inch speaker, and the ability to wirelessly and easily transfer files? Apple can't provide that..

Wireless? Yeah, but I'm sure with limits. Easily? That remains to be seen.

What will battery life be like when using wireless? How well will they implement the "sideways" implementation of controls? Will the screen look consistently good from two viewing angles? Will they drop the price to $249 or lower now that their rumored price is higher than Apple's 30?
post #11 of 206
I probably woulnd't mind the player. It's applying security patches every week to plug the holes in the Zune's Media Store (whatever it's called).

I can just imagine that piece of software is going to be typical MS: Full of holes and compromised within 60 minutes of getting on-line.
post #12 of 206
mmmm...new zune looks fantastic on paper..but wait till they start shipping.

Within days purchasers will be getting the blue screen of death....or even better the zune player will erase/corrupt tracks willy nilly.

Plus you will have to partner it with a PC and when you change your pc or have virus meltdown and reinstall xp, zune will need resetting and all tracks will be lost!!

Ok i'm just pulling a few legs, but thank god i'm with apple.
post #13 of 206
"come in three colors: white, black, -- and we kid you not -- brown."

PRICELESS!
post #14 of 206
Gosh, I hope it gives me a little pop-up in the lower right corner of the screen telling me about updates EVERY TIME I TURN IT ON!
post #15 of 206
......
post #16 of 206
Does it have a real Apple type scroll wheel? I thought Apple had that pretty much locked that up with patents.

If it's a fake scroll wheel like Sandisk Sansa e series, then that's crap.

edit: Who want's to bet that within a few weeks the DRM will be cracked and you can transfer your whole library to a friend? This wifi deal sounds like a music Pirate's wet dream!
post #17 of 206
the brown one kind of looks like a piece of meatloaf. just my 2cents.
post #18 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by kresh

Does it have a real Apple type scroll wheel? I thought Apple had that pretty much locked that up with patents.

With it being raised up, I'm guessing they are just click buttons that have a circular shape.

I honestly don't understand how there can't be someone inside Microsoft's design department who just says that it looks awful. I know they're consistent with their bad design but this is ridiculous.

One thing they got right was a widescreen display. That's what I was hoping Apple would do with their ipod video.
post #19 of 206
Brown MP3 player. Those genuises! They've taken all the new iPod nano colors and mixed them into one super color. Can't decide which color of iPod Nano to buy? Get all the colors in one, with the Microsoft Zune. How can this fail?
post #20 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin

With it being raised up, I'm guessing they are just click buttons that have a circular shape.

I honestly don't understand how there can't be someone inside Microsoft's design department who just says that it looks awful. I know they're consistent with their bad design but this is ridiculous.

One thing they got right was a widescreen display. That's what I was hoping Apple would do with their ipod video.


I think Apple and MS are playing tag at the moment. After viewing the Keynote, I had the impression that Steve was leaving something out, like something was substituted at the last moment. Almost like they were waiting on MS to announce Zune, then pop out the Apple vPod

MS waited until after Apple's keynote to announce Zune, but unexpectedly they did not give a release date. The ball is back in Apple's court.

Who's going to be the first to announce Apple or Microsoft?
post #21 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin

One thing they got right was a widescreen display. That's what I was hoping Apple would do with their ipod video.

But you have to turn it sideways for some content? Seems like kind of a kludge to me.
post #22 of 206
I like the screen size vs. the overall device, and the change of orientation. It also looks like it's able to either place the menus at the bottom, with content still playing at the top, or to overlap the menus transparently on video content. I was certain that Apple would release a "widescreen" ipod with these kinds of features along with the movie store, but it seems they've committed themselves to the square-ish 640X480 for both TV and movie downloads. Maybe 6G.
post #23 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin

One thing they got right was a widescreen display. That's what I was hoping Apple would do with their ipod video.

It's not. It's 640 x 480 (4:3).
post #24 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottiB

It's not. It's 640 x 480 (4:3).

Huh, really? It must just be oriented as 480X640, with the 640 vertical rather than horizontal. The ipod is 320X240, with the 320 horizontal, right?

Still that's 4 times the resolution of the ipod. And of course it would play iTunes videos at native resolution rather than scaled down.
post #25 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimUSCA

"come in three colors: white, black, -- and we kid you not -- brown."

PRICELESS!

That's not just any brown... That's BILLY GATES BROWN!!!!

I'll agree with the general consensus of disappointment that Apple didn't release the 6G iPod on Tuesday - it would have been the ultimate embarrassment for MS to release the Zune two days afterward. I only hope that Apple responds soon, because some people will likely be enticed by the bigger screen.
post #26 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamezog

That's not just any brown... That's BILLY GATES BROWN!!!!

I'll agree with the general consensus of disappointment that Apple didn't release the 6G iPod on Tuesday - it would have been the ultimate embarrassment for MS to release the Zune two days afterward. I only hope that Apple responds soon, because some people will likely be enticed by the bigger screen.

Apple doesn't need to respond until Zune is ready to ship. If Apple responds any sooner, they'll just hurt sales of their current units.
post #27 of 206
(duplicate post)
post #28 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell

Huh, really? It must just be oriented as 480X640, with the 640 vertical rather than horizontal. The ipod is 320X240, with the 320 horizontal, right?

Still that's 4 times the resolution of the ipod. And of course it would play iTunes videos at native resolution rather than scaled down.

From the pictures, it appears that to use it as a music device, you hold it upright; to watch movies, you turn it sideways. If it's turned sideways, how easy is it to use the scroll wheel to fast forward?

Also with the screen so large and the wheel so small and low, operating this one handed will be difficult.

The Zune seems neat, but Apple put a lot of ergonomic thought into the iPod (using it with one hand being almost paramount). The Zune will be nowhere near as elegant.
post #29 of 206
man, what a horrible marketing job.
post #30 of 206
While the target price was going to be $299 the $50 price cut on the similar iPod this week will have MS scrambling to recover - and to have their first price cut before shipping the first unit. Can we say $229 - $239?

As far as the colors go, I think the sh*t brown says it all.
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post #31 of 206
What are the player's dimensions? I wonder how much larger and heavier it is than the iPod? No doubt it will be a real clunker. Those pictures don't reveal its true girth.
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post #32 of 206
Apple is taking its time with the killer-app within the killer-app -- the "built-in" screen click wheel. What confuses me is the intended ratio for the rumored vPod. Will it be 4:3? Is it meant for widescreen? Is any of this stuff meant for widescreen?
post #33 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThinkExpensive

hmmm....if people are able to share music with other Zune users, that will pretty much defy copyright laws. Obviously, it's pretty indescript as to what you'll be able to share. This would probably anger the record companies too, in fear that somebody will (and probably easily) hack the Zune to be able to share DRM'd material.

This is from cnet.com:
Quote "Microsoft hopes the Zune will challenge Apple Computer's iPod and the software company has equipped its device with at least one feature not found in the iPod: Zune users can transmit full-length tracks of select songs, homemade recordings or photos to other Zune players.

The songs passed can be heard up to three times over three days. Should a user like a song a friend has shared, the song can be flagged and later can be purchased from the Zune Marketplace."


Something to chew over:
www.stereogum.com/archives/003387.html
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post #34 of 206
Well, me, with my lack of good taste, will admit that I like the brown one the best. Honestly, the pictures of the black and white ones, both look like they have some odd translucency to them that I just don't care for. The brown one has kind of a classic, retro look.

I agree with some others that the larger screen is sure to entice some people.
post #35 of 206
it's a brick!!!
post #36 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottiB

From the pictures, it appears that to use it as a music device, you hold it upright; to watch movies, you turn it sideways. If it's turned sideways, how easy is it to use the scroll wheel to fast forward?

Also with the screen so large and the wheel so small and low, operating this one handed will be difficult.

The Zune seems neat, but Apple put a lot of ergonomic thought into the iPod (using it with one hand being almost paramount). The Zune will be nowhere near as elegant.

Are you sure about the 640 size? This article says 320, which is consistent with the Toshiba Gigabeat upon which this Zune is based. And I couldn't find anything saying 640.
post #37 of 206
Available is ebony, ivory and turd!

Apple doesn't need to worry about Zune.
They need to worry about Zune 3.0
It'll take Microsoft a couple years and a couple hundred million monkeys on PCs to get it right.
But eventually they'll put those opposable thumbs to good use and make a decent player.
post #38 of 206
God what an ugly piece of crap that is, so bad Im using my once a month post to vent , but on a lighter note the screen does look nice, but I wouldnt want to spend $300 for it, Im saving up to by Final Cut Studio, since it only costs $550 or something like that with my college discount . The wireless sharing stuff is worthless to, 3x for 3 days at an expense of battery life for passing? Are the people at Microsoft on crack.??

Anyway, Im not worried about it at all as the ship date will probably be delayed several years like everything else they try to sell.
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post #39 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell

Are you sure about the 640 size? This article says 320, which is consistent with the Toshiba Gigabeat upon which this Zune is based. And I couldn't find anything saying 640.

I got that from a MacNN post--which could be wrong. If it's 320 x 240, then it's a larger display with than the iPod with the same resolution--just like the 14" iBook . I didn't have to turn it on its side to watch videos though.
post #40 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottiB

From the pictures, it appears that to use it as a music device, you hold it upright; to watch movies, you turn it sideways. If it's turned sideways, how easy is it to use the scroll wheel to fast forward?

It's not even a scroll wheel. It's four buttons like the ipod shuffle.
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