With Easter a little less than a week away, it looks like Microsoft is prepping a new Zune HD player just in time for the holiday, even if you weren't supposed to know about it.
On the Zune's homepage, Microsoft's web monkeys have added a listing for a Zune HD 64. Click on the link, however, and you won't get very far - it brings up a "page not found" error rather than a new product page for a Zune HD sporting twice the amount of storage as the current flagship model.
If we had to guess, we'd say the link will go live fairly soon, though don't expect any hardware changes beyond the bump in capacity. That's not a bad thing, as the Zune HD comes comprised of an Nvidia Tegra chipset, 3.3-inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, and a pretty slick UI.
Since there hasn't been an official announcement yet, there's obviously no word on pricing. As a point of reference, however, the 32GB Zune HD runs $240.
Remember Packard Bell? Believe it or not, the company is still around, though in quite a different fashion than those beige rigs you probably remember fixing over a decade ago. Packard Bell, now a subsidiary of Acer, maintains a presence in Europe where it recently announced its Studio ST home entertainment media player.
"If you are looking for an external drive to carry your personal music, videos, and photos and play them back on a TV set, the new multimedia storage Packard Bell Studio ST is the perfect partner," Packard Bell said in a press release. "With its distinctive angular shape, its black glossy finish, its compact and stylish design, it perfectly fits any home interior."
Aesthetics aside, the Studio ST supports playback of 1080p video over HDMI with Dolby Digital and comes with 500GB to 2TB of disk space. Playing the part of the artful dodger, Packard Bell doesn't list out specific codec support, saying only that the Studio ST "plays all version of the most common videos, pictures, and audio files."
The Studio ST comes with a USB port, and in a move we wish other manufacturers would follow, Packard Bell includes all the cables you'll need, including composite A/V, YPbPr, HDMI, and USB.
Muziic developer David Nelson still isn't a household name. But this 16-year-old may be pitchforked into the limelight, in case the music industry chooses to confront him over his creation, Muziic, an app that streams YouTube music directly to the user's desktop. He and his dad, Mark Nelson, had launched the media player on February 25, 2009. The Muziic player, to its credit, not only spares users an otherwise mandatory visit to YouTube's website but also lets them search YouTube's vast music library, create playlists, and browse them with ample ease.
While Google gave the nod for Muziic to continue after the latter agreed to expand the size of its video player, the music industry has hitherto chosen to turn its sight away from the father-son duo and Muziic. All that changed on Monday, though, when Muziic expanded its service to include content from label-backed video service Vevo, and that too without any annoying ads. Vevo is operated by YouTube for the companies that own the service: Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, EMI and Abu Dhabi Media Company. As if blocking ads usually displayed along with Vevo content wasn't enough, Muziic circumvents the site's North America-only limitation to add insult to injury.
Push has come to shove for the music industry and the consortium behind Vevo is in the mood for some action. Vevo CEO Rio Caraeff has asked David Nelson to pull the plug on Muziic's use of Vevo's content. "I kindly advise you to immediately cease the use of the Vevo Logo, trademark and any other references to our corporate name," Caraeff wrote in an e-mail meant for the Muziic founder. "With regards to the use of Vevo licensed videos...they are also being used directly without our consent...You can be assured that changes are being deployed to the API in question immediately, however I am still going to ask you directly to cease the use of Vevo videos from within your service." Nelson remains adamant that he has done nothing wrong. He insists that he hasn't taken “any actions to circumvent the delivery of 'pre-roll' advertisements.” He further contends that it is the Youtube API, which currently does not deliver any ads to Vevo content, that is at fault.
How jacked up is your keyboard? Do you have one of those super-fancy, 800+ button, LCD-screen, lit-up, wheeled contraptions that's less an input device, more a control panel at a nuclear power plant? If so, you're probably the kind of person who doesn't need the apps I'm about to list out in this week's freeware roundup. Unless, that is, you're also one of those people (including yours truly) who have a ton of buttons and options to play with, yet no resolve to actually go about mapping this to that.
And if you're just rocking a plain ol' keyboard, I hope you're sitting down because you're in for a world of difference. The applications I'm profiling today are all keyboard-focused, and they all seek to add some kind of additional, awesome functionality to (or based on) your default button layouts. Launch programs! Use your keyboard media buttons to control all of your media players! Look up every Adobe-related shortcut within the span of seconds!
Suffice it to say, I have the keyboard krazies today. Join me after the jump to get your hands on some of the cooler keyboard-related freeware and open-source apps on the Internet!
Microsoft's new Zune HD doesn't launch until tomorrow, but you can already knock 15 percent off the pre-order price by going through Dell. Using coupon code 6FWJ247J1P44CK brings the 32GB player down from $290 to a little under $246 with free 2-day shipping. The same coupon code also drops the 16GB Zune HD down from $220 to $187.
Both models sport a 3.3-inch OLED touchscreen and Nvidia's multi-core Tegra processor inside to push high definition video and Flash content through a slim form-factor. If the Zune HD lives up to the hype, it will be the most powerful music and media player in its class. And with the above coupon code, one of the most affordable as well.
Still on the fence? The coupon is good until October 31, 2009 and also works on other electronics and accessories, excluding "power, batteries, monitors, Dell docking stations, cameras, camcorders, Samsung TVs, and storage."
As another reminder that crime doesn't pay, 23-year-old Nicholas Woodhams, also known as the "iPod Mechanic," faces 13 months in prison after pleading guilty to mail fraud and money laundering charges. Woodhams was also ordered to pay $648,568 in restitution to Apple and $8,066.85 to the U.S. Postal Service, Arstechnica reports.
According to the lawsuit, Woodhams ran a scam of exploiting Apple's advance replacement system for the iPod shuffle and reselling them through his own website. He also allegedly exploited Apple's iPod Warranty Service Program to get Apple to repair out-of-warranty iPods.
Woodhams' scam proved rather lucrative, but it's all going back. In addition to the above jail time and fines, Woodhams must forfeit about $750,000 worth of criminally acquired assets, including his house in Michigan, an Audi S4, an Ariel Atom 2, a Honda motocyle, and over $500,000 in cash. Ouch.
Microsoft's upcoming Zune HD will get more than a little help from Nvidia in going toe-to-toe against Apple's iPod and every other handheld media player on the market. Providing extra processor oomph, the Zune HD will use Nvidia's multi-core Tegra processor.
"Nvidia brings power graphics to the portable media player. This is a unique capability," said Jeff Orr, senior analyst for mobile content at ABI Research.
What makes Nvidia's Tegra so special -- and the Zune HD so promising -- are eight independent processors, which will go a long ways in helping the Zune HD handle high definition video and Flash content on its OLED touch screen without necessitating a bulky formfactor.
"Apple probably builds a pretty good SoC [System-on-Chip], but in terms of what they have already enabled [on the iPod Touch], I don't believe it has nearly the graphics and power management that Tegra does," said Mike Rayfield, a general manager at Nvidia. "We've benchmarked against everyone out there, and we are the most advanced in terms of graphics and overall power management."
The Zune HD will be just one of many devices to make use of Nvidia's Tegra processor. According to Nvidia, there are about 50 other gadgets in design right now with Tegra.
Besides putting the finishing touches on Windows 7 and Office 2010, what else has Microsoft been up to lately? Perhaps gearing up to open an app store for its Zune HD media player, if trademark application 77775625 for the trademark "ONEAPP" is any indication. The application covers:
"Computer software for allowing mobile device users to send messages, make payments and access and play music, games and videos on mobile devices; computer software platforms for developing mobile applications; computer software, namely, software development tools for the creation of mobile applications; computer software for runing retail store site for purchase and download of mobile applications over wireless networks."
It's all speculation at this point, but in one part of the filing, Microsoft specifically mentions "media players," which points squarely at the Zune HD. But if that is what Microsoft's up to, the company has a lot of ground to make up with Apple announcing its App Store surpassing the 1.5 billion download mark just three months after it recorded 1 billion downloads.
In Windows 7, Windows Media Center is a more useful tool than ever before for working with audio and visual media. While at first glance, Windows 7's version of WMC doesn't look a whole lot different than its predecessor, it includes many improvements. In this article, we'll focus on improvements in WMC's TV setup process, support for digital broadcast TV, the program guide, Internet TV, WMC access from the desktop, RAW file support for photos, picture and music playback and sports.
Western Digital’s WD TV HD Media Player is missing two components commonly found in digital media players: a display and storage. What the device does have is two USB ports, HDMI and composite video outputs, digital and analog audio outputs, and the ability to play almost any digital media.
Since you provide the storage media, you can never fill up the WD TV. You plug the player into your TV and connect your USB drive or digital camera to the player; it then creates thumbnails for all the digital movies, photographs, and music it finds stored there. If you connect storage devices to both USB ports, the WD TV will index the contents of both drives as if they were one.
The device delivers much higher video resolution than most media players, all the way from 480i using the composite video port to 1080p using HDMI (576p, 720i, 720p, and 1080i are also supported via HDMI). The WD TV supports a host of video formats, codecs, and containers, including AVI, H.264, QuickTime, VOB, and Matroska. It does not, however, support DivX.