Microsoft unveils new Zunes

Welcome back to the social, Zune fans. We all knew they were coming, most of us knew what they were going to look like and a few of us were even wise to the feature set. Still, there’s nothing quite like getting official and that’s exactly what the new family of Zunes did today. The full rundown:

  • Zune 80: New hard drive-based Zune featuring 80GB of storage, WiFi, “Zune Pad” (touch sensitive directional pad) and 3.2 inch QVGA screen. Available in black, $250.
  • Zune 8: Smaller, flash-based Zune featuring 8GB of storage, WiFi, Zune Pad and 1.8 inch screen. Available in pink, green, black, and red, $200.
  • Zune 4: Same as the Zune 8 but with–you guessed it–4GB of flash storage. $150.

In addition to these specs, all Zunes (including the original Zunes, after a firmware update) will boast a redesigned interface, WiFi sharing (the three days restriction has been lifted, it’s now just three plays, anytime) and last but not least, automatic WiFi syncing when in range of the host computer. Additionally, Microsoft has completely redesigned its Zune software and music store and is adding podcasts, music videos, social networking features and over one million DRM-free tracks. All of this new gear should be rolling out sometime next month–according to, November 13th is the date to watch.

And now for a few thoughts. It’s pretty obvious how Microsoft is looking to position the various Zunes, with the 80GB/8GB/4GB models matching the corresponding iPods on price down to the cent. Still, there are a few features you get with the Zunes that you don’t find in the iPod line: namely WiFi (which is only found in Apple’s more expensive iPod Touch) and the wireless syncing and sharing that comes with it. On the other hand, the iPod line has a few advantages as well, like longer battery life across the board, a larger screen on the Nano and access to a better music store. So what’ll it be: iPod or Zune? In the end it’s probably more a function of whether you’re an Apple fanboy or a Microsoft fanboy than anything else.

For more on the new Zunes:
– check out this video demonstration (via Engadget)
– see this New York Times article
– and check out this handy iPod/Zune comparison chart

More stories about User Interface (UI)   WiFi   Microsoft Zune   Microsoft   iPod   iTunes  


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