Zune Gets Bigger, Gets Smaller, Gets Social


Microsoft's original Zune digital music players came in a variety of colors, but only one size: 30GB, making them too expensive for some users, while not providing enough capacity for other users. The one-size-fits-all days of Zune are over: on Tuesday , Microsoft announced three new models:

  • 4GB (flash memory) for $149.99
  • 8GB (flash memory) for $199.99
  • 80GB (hard disk) for $249.99

The slim 4GB/8GB models share a common chassis that features a 1.8 inch screen, while the top of the line 80GB version includes a 3.2 inch screen, up from 3 inches in the original Zune.

New Navigation, New Features

Members of the "Zune 2.0" family all include the new Zune Pad touch-sensitive navigation button, wireless sync via Wi-Fi home networks, and improved wireless Zune to Zune sharing. You no longer need to worry about the old 3-day time limit for playing back songs you receive from other Zune owners - it's history. And, you can pass along songs you've received to others (but the 'play three times and out' restriction still applies).

Brown is the New Gone

Brown, the most derided color choice in the original Zune lineup, didn't make the cut. New 4GB and 8GB Zunes will be available in pink, red, black or green, while the 80GB model will be available in black.

Windows Zune + Windows Media Center for Vista = TV to Go

The new zunes can sync with Windows Media Center for Vista's TV recordings, crunching them down to a suitable size for playback wherever you go.

Getting Social

With the new Zune Social social networking site, Microsoft brings the "it's all about me, my friends, and my tastes" attitude to digital media. Zune Social users can create Zune Cards, which will reflect their creators's tastes in music, post messages to each other, and get recommendations from other users. Think MySpace meets MyMusic.

New Digital Media Goodies Coming to the Zune Marketplace

The Zune Marketplace is also being redesigned: it will feature over 3 million songs, over 1 million MP3 songs (no more nasssty DRM, precious!), music videos for sale, along with free video and audio podcasts - all in a new interface.

Kicking Planned Obsolescence to the Curb

If a 30GB Zune (either one you own now or one you'll grab on sale) is big enough for you, or if brown's your favorite color, don't feel left out. Wireless sync, better Zune to Zune sharing, and TV to go features are coming to your Zune via firmware upgrades. And, to sweeten the deal still further, existing Zune accessories as well as eight new ones from Microsoft fit both old and new Zunes:

  • Zune Home AV Pack. Home Dock with three faceplates to accommodate each Zune device, wireless remote, AC adaptor and composite AV output cable (ERP $99.99)
  • Zune Dock Pack. Home Dock with three faceplates to accommodate each Zune device and AC adapter (ERP $49.99)
  • Zune Car Pack. Redesigned FM transmitter/charger and dashboard grip pad (ERP $79.99)
  • Zune Cable Pack. Sync cable, composite AV output cable and audio cable (ERP $39.99)
  • Zune Premium Headphones (ERP $39.99)
  • Zune Leather Case (ERP $49.99)
  • Zune Sync Cable (ERP $19.99)
  • Zune AC Adapter (ERP $29.99)

See the new accessories here .

If you're tired of replacing accessories whenever you upgrade your digital media player, Microsoft's "let old and new share the new and the old" attitude is refreshing.

Thanksgiving Turkey with a Side of Zune

The new Zune models, websites and accessories will be available in November, but Amazon.com and CircuitCity.com are ready to take your preorders - now.

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