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So, while hanging out at a Zune “launch” party here in Seattle last week, in addition to the video we caught we also grabbed a bunch of images showing off all sides of the device. Unfortunately, we only had access to the horrible brown Zune, but that’s better than nothing, right? Jump on over to the Gear Live Gallery to take a look at eleven hands-on photos of the Zune. Don’t fret, friends, you’ll be able to pick up your very own Zune in just over a month.

Read More | Hands-on Zune Gallery

iPod and Zune

Co-host of Gear Live’s video show, The Bleeding Edge, Jake Ludington recently took our Zune video coverage a step further by taking a few images of the device side-by-side next to one of the new 80 GB 5.5G iPods. You will see that the device is quite a bit bigger and thicker (it does house both an FM and WiFi antenna), and that the screen is nice and vibrant. Jake makes mention of the fact that the 30GB Zune is lighter than the 80GB iPod, but we aren’t thinking that is as important as how comfortable these things feel in your hand. From our impressions, it wasn’t too good.

Read More | Jake Ludington

Zune Launch

For all of you that have been holding your breath for the Microsoft Zune, the company has finally released details on pricing and launch date. As it turns out, the Zune will drop on November 14, 2006 and will retail for $249.99 USD - the same price as the 30 GB iPod. While the Zune will also feature wireless Zune-to-Zune transfers of music, photos, and personal recorded video, as well as an integrated FM tuner (but won’t allow for time-shifting of radio,) one really has to wonder if Microsoft priced this thing correctly. Our personal opinion is that the Zune should have undercut the price of the iPod by at least $20. To soften the blow, Microsoft is including quite a bit of free content on the Zune at purchase, all of which is listed after the break.

The company has also made known how the payment system on the Zune Marketplace will work, as consumers will use Microsoft Points (yup, the same ones you use on your Xbox 360) as the method of payment on the Marketplace - or they can just pick up a monthly Zune Pass for $14.99 USD to get access to the complete Zune music library.

Click to continue reading Zune Launch Date and Pricing Details Revealed


Xbox360logoSome info from the Tokyo Game Show 2006 has stated that the XBOX 360 will receive 1080p support (1920x1080) through a dashboard update coming this year. Current games and even DVD’s will be up-converted to this extended resolution, but no native 1080p content has been announced yet.  I would imagine that the update is namely due to the upcoming release of the HD-DVD add-on which supports 1080p media. It is also a good tactic to take away some of the hype from the PS3 being released in November, which will support 1080p. Now if they would only add an HDMI port to the thing, it’d be a true HD machine!

Read More | Playfeed

MSN soapboxWatch out, iTube. MSN has announced the beta release of Soapbox, their user-uploaded video service. Available on MSN Video, it joins their growing family of Windows Live Spaces and Live Messenger. With Soapbox, you can upload and share videos, seach through 15 video categories, subscribe to RSS feeds, and even rate and comment on videos.

Soapbox is available in the U.S. by invitation only, but plans on expanding in the future so that you can also invite a few friends to your Internet party. Users must have MSN IE 6 or later with Windows XP, or Firefox 1.0.5 or later running on Windows XP or Macintosh OS X.

Read More | MSN Press Release

mszune

Microsoft finally unveiled the long-awaited Zune today. Basics include a 3 inch screen, WiFi, 30GB hard drive, and a built-in FM tuner. Music, pictures, and video playback are all standard fare here. With Zune-to-Zune sharing, you can wirelessly share a full-length track with a compadre, who gets 3 viewings/listenings before purchase at the Zune Marketplace (unless they already subscribe to the unlimited “Zune Pass”.) You can also share your pictures and playlists with your amigos, along with homemade recordings.

Zune will be available in brown, white, and basic black, but no news yet on pricing or availability. Stay tuned to Gear Live for more details, or subscribe to The Zune Newsletter for updates.

Read More | Zune Release

Classroom at MS-HSThe city of Philadelphia fronted $63 million to have Microsoft design a school in a west-philly working district back in 2003. Well, after 3 years, Microsoft’s “School of the Future” opened it’s doors for the first time to 170 teens from the area.  The students were chosen from a lottery, and now enjoy learning with laptops and school wide wireless internet.  Each student has a “smart card” which they use to access their lockers, track attendance and even monitor their caloric intake. The students aren’t the only one’s with new gadgets either.  The teachers have new “Smart Boards” allowing the teachers to write, zoom in and out, and even link to the internet.

But the school isn’t just gadgets and gizmos for the students and faculty, it also incorporates a whole new learning process.  This new process is derived directly from Microsoft’s management techniques.  Students are called “learners” and teacher’s “educators.”  There’s no longer a library, but an “interactive learning center.”  There are all sorts of ideas employed here that both remove stress from the “educators” while still looking out for the “learner’s” best interests. Using software to track students’ progress and automatically assigning them help if necessary as well as incorporating current events and real-world data automatically into lessons are just a few of the ways MS new program can help.  It truly does help to bring to life the philosophy or the school’s principal Grover that “Learning is not just going to school.”

Read More | CNN

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