updated 09:30 am EST, Tue November 13, 2007
New Zune Ships
Keeping to its schedule, Microsoft today released its new Zune player line to stores and updated its software for both players and PCs. The Zune 4GB and 8GB represent the company's first-ever flash players and maintain the same video playback, FM radio, and Wi-Fi support as hard disk models without dropping resolution or the feature set. They also introduce the concept of the Zune pad, a hybrid controller that lets users either click or swipe the surface to navigate menus, and the ability to sync content wirelessly when the device is charging in a dock away from its home PC. The Zune 80GB also takes on the new control method and expands the screen size of the original to 3.2 inches while shrinking its dimensions and adding the new Zune pad and Wi-Fi sync features.
The Zune 4GB and 8GB ship in black, green, pink, and red and should be available in most American stores today for $150 and $200 respectively. The 80GB player is is available in a single black color for $250. Users hoping to customize the Zune with the just-introduced Zune Originals artwork service can order a 4GB or 8GB player today with the new artwork added for free; the Zune 80GB will be available for the same treatment sometime in December. The Zune 30GB remains at $200 and receives a free firmware update that adds all the software features of newer devices, including podcasting and Wi-Fi sync.
The update also sees the release of Zune Software 2.1, a completely overhauled version of the jukebox software used to manage and download tracks for the player. In addition to a new interface designed to ease navigation and provide a visual means of browsing albums by 2D covers, the software tightly links the the Zune Marketplace to the new Zune Social, which lets users create profiles and share their musical tastes, including with blog-like comments. The software remains limited to Windows XP and Vista.