Microsoft introduces new Zune lineup | iLounge News


Microsoft introduces new Zune lineup


Microsoft has unveiled its latest revisions to the Zune digital media player, including a revamped hard drive-based model as well as a new flash-based Zune, which will compete with the iPod nano. The new hard drive-based Zune will offer 80GB of storage, Wi-Fi wireless sync, and a 3.2-inch screen; it will sell for $250, matching the price of the 80GB iPod classic. The new flash-based Zune will be offered in 4GB and 8GB capacities, will feature a 1.8-inch screen, the same Wi-Fi functionality as the larger model, and will sell for $150 and $200 respectively, matching the price points of the 4GB and 8GB iPod nano (with video). The new players also sport touch-sensitive navigation via the new “Zune Pad”, a rounded rectangle-shaped control apparatus that takes the place of the original Zune’s round navigation pad. No battery life statistics have yet been disclosed by Microsoft. All three new Zune models are slated for a November release.

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It’s a nice-looking device, but it’s not doing anything earth-shattering.

MSFT needs to understand that the only way to even moderately disrupt AAPL’s stranglehold on the market is to sell lots of storage and features for less. Pitting 80 GB @ $250 against 80 GB @ $250 is worthless. Why not be aggressive and take a chance if you really intend to capture a chunk of the market? Build a 120 GB player and sell it for $200 or thereabouts. Offer GPS functionality or downloadable software suites. Hell, I don’t know—do something to make waves, because this sure doesn’t do it.

I realize it’s futile to challenge iPod’s dominance at this point anyway. Microsoft surely does as well. But if you’re gonna make a run at ‘em, at least make an earnest effort.

Posted by Flippy Hambone on October 3, 2007 at 10:46 AM (CDT)


This may be a solid 2nd effort.  One thing that really caught my eye is that they’re planning on supporting all the new functionality in the v1 players via firmware updates.  And maintain compatibility with all accessories between v1 and v2.  So they’re not abandoning the early adopters.  With all the griping lately over people’s perceptions over Apple’s practices and the latest batch of iPods, they just might well win over a few converts this time around.

Posted by dodo on October 3, 2007 at 10:53 AM (CDT)


Is it just me, or is the Zune really a few years behind Apple, Creative, and Cowon?

Posted by Chahk on October 3, 2007 at 11:06 AM (CDT)


“With all the griping lately over people’s perceptions over Apple’s practices and the latest batch of iPods, they just might well win over a few converts this time around.”

I’ll be downloading the “revamped” Zune software as soon as it’s released. If Microsoft can get their act together and at least come very close for smartlists with the Zune for music management, I would strongly consider ditching Apple at this point. Treating the Zune like a platform and not a disposable device like Apple has is *major* from my point of view.

I loved my mini, my 5G iPod, and my 2G nano, but Apple has done nothing to earn my future business with this latest release.

Posted by Code Monkey on October 3, 2007 at 11:07 AM (CDT)


Adding wireless syncing to the first-gen Zune is the only “feature”  that can possibly be considered an upgrade.

Adding things like a clock, podcast support, and videos in the Zune Marketplace are no “features.” They are things that should have been there all along.

Apple added podcast support to their early iPods too. I have a 2nd gen that has podcast support.

Still, these Zune 2’s are a definite improvement over the first models, and the flash models definitely attack a bigger market than the hard-drives.

I have yet to see a single Zune out in the “wild,” so maybe Zune 2 can change that.

Posted by BJ Nemeth on October 3, 2007 at 11:31 AM (CDT)


I forgot to add that when I purchased my 2nd gen iPod (Jan, 2003), podcasting didn’t exist in anything at all like it’s current form. (It was *possible* to create RSS enclosures with audio feeds, but nobody did.)

Yet Apple still went back and it made it easier for me to listen to podcasts on that model, separating them into a “Podcast” directory and bookmarking them like audiobooks for convenient listening.

In terms of larger, more “important” features, I would compare the wireless of the Zune models to the wireless of the iPhone and the iPod Touch. The iPhone has already gained features (WiFi iTunes Store, and others) since it’s release just a few months ago, and I foresee the same thing for the iPod.

There was no conceivable, reasonable way to add games or video playback to my 2nd gen iPod, or video support to my 2nd-gen iPod Nano. Aside from WiFi syncing from Zune-to-computer, anybody excited about added features to the Zune are excited about things that clearly should have been there all along in a device that debuted in late *2006.*

Posted by BJ Nemeth on October 3, 2007 at 11:40 AM (CDT)


I think that the “backwards-compatible” UI update is something that should be adopted by Apple, to a limited extent, soon. Is there any reason why I can’t have cover flow on my 5.5gen iPod? Of course you can’t do the same thing for the iPod nano.

WiFi syncing is cool (wonder why Apple didn’t include it in iPhone and iPod touch) but not enough to sway me to the Zune.

Posted by Tommy on October 3, 2007 at 11:50 AM (CDT)


Flippy makes a great point…

Given that the majority of MP3 players are iPods, Microsoft really need to provide something that is going to convince us owners to change platforms.

The pain of change will I guess prevent most of us thinking about it… even if we are getting a bit annoyed at Apple.

I am no stranger to multiple devices, (We have 6 iPods of different Generations and types…) But there is nothing here that is tempting me to want to jump platforms.

BTW I never thought I would hear iLounge readers hoping that Apple learns some tricks from MS.  If I was Jobs, I would be concerned right now.

Posted by boca on October 3, 2007 at 12:06 PM (CDT)


OMG that is the ugliest player ever looks like blow doll of the MP3, see ya zune M$

Posted by osmac on October 3, 2007 at 12:30 PM (CDT)


I haven’t heard anyone complain about not being able to run Third-Party Apps on the Zune yet; nor about being restricted to using Zune Marketplace.
The Zune may have WiFi for Syncing and Sharing of DRMed content, but as Steve said when he introduced the iPod touch, “What’s the point of WiFi when you don’t have a web browser.
I know it’s not the scope of the Zune to be comparable to the iPod touch, but it’s not in the scope of the iPod touch be comparable to a fully fledged PDA.

Posted by Daniel Woods on October 3, 2007 at 3:44 PM (CDT)


I don’t get it? why is MS even making these? They are basically making their near equivalents to the iPod and charging the same too. Don’t they realize that to gain support and give Apple a run for their money is to charge less like how Sandisk has the 16 GB flash mp3 player for $200, and make sure to offer everything the iPod/iTunes offers and then after that add extra features to go above and beyond. Apple has been getting lazy recently it seems, I know a year ago I was told my Nano would only last a year or so which seems short for the lifespan of a product. Perhaps M$ will get things right next time, if there is one, though it doesn’t seem like it.

Posted by ben7337 on October 3, 2007 at 3:55 PM (CDT)


To Flippy Hambone:

I have admired your commentary for quite a while. It’s always a pleasure to read your thoughtful feedback!

Posted by GigiMars on October 3, 2007 at 5:45 PM (CDT)


Does anybody here actually know anyone who owns one of these things?

Posted by Tom Coe on October 3, 2007 at 6:10 PM (CDT)


Microsoft has stated that they are losing money on the current zune player. So does this mean that they will continue lose money on the new zune2’s?

Posted by sleepy on October 3, 2007 at 7:02 PM (CDT)


I can’t see wireless syncing of an 80Gb, although for updates it might be tolerable. You have to charge the thing as well, so you might as well attach it to the computer with a 480mbps pipe with power supply.

Posted by Japester on October 3, 2007 at 7:31 PM (CDT)


@Tommy: Apple sells bucket loads of iPods. They have no incentive to provide later features to earlier iPods. This is a good feature for the Zune.

Besides, as iLounge has pointed out, the 5th-Gen may not have the hardware capability to support Cover Flow. The new interface is far more graphics intensive than the 5th-Gen’s.

Posted by Japester on October 3, 2007 at 7:34 PM (CDT)


@Japester- ok maybe GUI (cover flow) is something that couldn’t be backwards compatible with earlier iPod models due to hardware constraints.  But what about stuff like gapless playback that was added with the 5.5G release?  Is there a technical reason why they couldn’t have updated my 4G iPod to support gapless playback?  Or my 1G nano?  May seem like a small thing but some albums (e.g. Pink Floyd) were just made to be listened to as one seamless piece.  Kudos to MS for providing new features to their v1 hardware even though they’re really pushing their v2 hardware.

Posted by dodo on October 3, 2007 at 8:08 PM (CDT)


good feedback guys.  I’m glad to read no outright apple loyalists.

Like yourself i’d be willing to jump ship once the better product reaches us.

Frankly i’m tired of all the apple hype and i am ready to move on.

soon we all are. 

Microsoft needs to listen to the people as far as making the BEST music player.

Posted by gabe on October 3, 2007 at 8:38 PM (CDT)


The new zune makes me a lot more likely to switch the next time it’s time for me to get a new player.  I was a basher when they first came out but microsoft is starting to win me over.

Posted by Pugetsound on October 4, 2007 at 12:33 AM (CDT)


I have to say I am impressed with the thought out, intelligent responses to this news article.  Typically, it would have been MS bashing but folks who have commented have kept it to a bare minimum.

I think MS is getting closer to what is expected with a DAP with the Zune 2.  Now, just add Gapless and maybe some other Codec support and this could truly be the “iPod Killer” everyone talks about.

Posted by WildmanCAL on October 4, 2007 at 12:40 AM (CDT)

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