Hey Zune owners, head up—the Zune 4.5 update has just gone live, and it’s ready for you to suck down from Microsoft. As a refresher, here’s what you have to look forward to:
- Smart DJ integration on Zune HD
- Picks on Zune HD (personalized recommendations based on your listening habits)
- Browse the Zune Marketplace on TV when you dock your connected Zune
- Expanded video codec support, reducing need for transcoding
Of course, there are likely a bunch of bug fixes and all that to make things feel mo’ better. In addition to all that, the new 64GB Zune HD will be available in a week!
No, this isn’t the most exciting story about mobile devices this weekend, but we’ve gotta hand it to Microsoft for listening to the masses on the whole Windows Phone 7 Series branding. It was too long, there was no simplicity, and frankly, it made no sense. Rather than stubbornly sticking with it, they’ve heard our cries, and Windows Phone 7 Series is now simply known as Windows Phone 7 from here on out. This doesn’t change the hardware or software in any way, mind you, it’s strictly a branding change. A smart branding change.
Sure, it’s only about six months too late, but Microsoft is finally ready to let a 64GB Zune HD loose, and it arrives on April 12. You’ll be able to purchase one from the Zune Originals site, as well as Amazon, Best Buy, and all the regulars for $350. Ordering from Microsoft directly lets you choose from platinum, black, blue, red, green, purple, and magenta colors.
The 16 and 32GB Zune HD models will each see an immediate $20 price drop as well.
Heads up, all you Xbox 360 owners that are constantly feeling the pinch when it comes to hard drive space - Microsoft has finally released the 250GB Xbox 360 hard drive as a standalone device! Previously, you were only able to get the drive with the purchase of one of the many special edition consoles, like Modern Warfare 2 or Final Fantasy XIII. The 250GB hard drive can be purchased now, and costs $129.99.
Read More | Xbox 360 250GB Hard Drive
For those of you out there who have spent the greater part of the last few years since the release of the Xbox 360 in a dark hole yelling ‘PWN’D!!!’ at 11 year-olds via the interwebz there is nothing more face-punchingly painful than the 3 Rings of death. For the uninitiated, the 3 Rings of Death (or RROD( on an Xsox 360 mean that the machine has eaten itself and you are now left with a very expensive bookend. For the you, avid gamer, this is a truly traumatic experience. You are forced—for a couple of weeks at least—to shuffle your way outside, blinking 12-inch-wide gollum-eyes at the sun all the while, and to begin socially interacting with people. An event this traumatic deserves to be memorialized, forever etched in the asocial fabric of the basement of your parent’s house where you live, yes? Well look no further, fearless devourer of the Hot Pocket, your savior has arrived in the form of an artistically morbid coffin for your Xbox. Created by Australian designer Alexis Vanamois, this sleek little number can serve to either a) memorialize your crawling out of the dungeon of social leprosy and beginning a new life, or b) as a badge of honor mounted on your wall and waiting for more XBoxes to be memorialized along side it as you travel down the road to becoming the comic-book guy from The Simpsons; the choice is yours.
So, after upgrading my PC from Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit version to Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit edition, I quickly determined that using Remote Desktop Connection for Mac 2.0 to connect to the PC resulted in no sound coming through the audio redirection feature. It took a bit of Googling to figure out exactly what was going on, but as it turns out, the x64 editions of Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 simply don’t include the audio redirection feature for the Remote Desktop Mac client. You’d think Microsoft would fix this themselves with a patch, but instead, they offer a Hotfix download. If you are unfamiliar with Microsoft Hotfixes, it’s pretty much an annoying process. You head to the kb article to find out about the problem, then request that a link to the hotfix download be emailed to you (because they couldn’t just put a download link on the help page?,) then you download the fix and attempt to open it. You then realize that the email with the download link also includes a password that you need in order to even run the fix.
C’mon, Microsoft, can we improve this asinine process?
At the very least, at the end of the day, the Hotfix worked, and I am again able to remote in to my PC from my Mac to listen to Zune. Good times.
Read More | Hotfix: Audio Redirection in 64-bit Windows for Remote Desktop
Alt-rockers Audio Fiction have become one of the first bands to use the Harmonix games and MTV’s newly-launched Rock Band Network Music Store for the Xbox 360 to author their own Rock Band song. The band used Harmonix tools to author their track ‘Race the Hourglass’ as their first addition to the Rock Band Network catalogue. Audio Fiction’s bassist, Darren Korb, then put it into a game-compatible file format, had it peer tested and approved in the debut launch of Rock Band Network that opened Thursday. What does this mean for you and me? Brace yourselves, Rock Band players, for an onslaught of titles from my newly-minted Finnish black-metal/industrial punk/ska/battle-rap band, ‘Obsequious Death Turtle, Version 2.0 the 3rd’. We’re huge in McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
The trailer for the beta version of the newest addition to the Halo family, Halo: Reach, drops today. From the footage it looks completely insane and has some pretty cool additions to make the multi-player aspects of the game that much more intense. For example, now when you headhunt people they collapse slowly to the floor shooting dozens of flaming skulls out of the tops of their heads. What, that isn’t normal? I know when I creep around Seattle in my ninja costume from 5th grade this happens all of the time when I come upon some hapless fool who has wandered into my territory. Well, maybe not quite; replace ‘shooting flaming skulls out of the tops of their heads’ with ‘stare at some idiot dressed in his pajamas from Christmas 1988 who just threw a plastic ninja-star at them’. Yep, that about sums it up. I am so alone.
If there is one thing that I hate, it is when technology inconveniences me more than it helps. We’ve all been there: it’s late, there’s a movie quote or an actor that you can’t get out of your head—you want, nay, NEED to solve this riddle before your body will allow you some restful shut-eye. What do you do? You roll over in your bed/futon/inflatable mattress and flip open your ever-present and never shutdown laptop and open a link to your favorite search engine. As you mindlessly begin to type your parameters, in my case the phrase ‘that hairy guy that dated Carla on Cheers’ (Nick, played by Dan Hedeya incidentally) is my search of choice tonight. No sooner have you gotten the letters ‘T-H-A..’ into the searchbox then a menu opens up listing more unrelated ‘tha’ phrases than a Wu-Tang song. After briefly looking at a list of ‘Thai Restaurants’ and ‘Thankless Jobs’ (*ahem*) you quickly close the menu and type out your search terms in their entirety. Annoying, isn’t it?
Well, Bing has taken that first step to making your oh-so-difficult web-searching easier by integrating your query history into their auto-suggest feature. Now when you begin to type your search in Bing your previous search queries will be taken into account when serving up auto-suggest keywords. Not only that, but they will appear in the same color (purple) that your web-browser uses to display already-visited links thus helping to differentiate them from non query-based auto-suggestions. In my case this means that when I type in ‘T-H-A’ like I previously mentioned about 30 purple-hued links to ‘That so-and-so from such-and-such-movie’ will appear since I am forever referencing pop culture but am blessed with the memory recall of a 2 month-old. At least now I’ll be able to save myself a few keystrokes before Bing directs me to IMDB. Bing has also allowed this feature to be turned off completely or to be managed with their ‘Manage History’ option if you are paranoid that your boss is going to search your work computer’s internet history and wonder why you keep searching ‘jobs that don’t suck like the one that i have now’. Either way, it’s progress.
Long-tenured UK TV host Jonathan Ross was able to give the upcoming Xbox 360 motion gaming add-on, Project Natal, a try. Aside from the hint of jealousy he left us all with, he also tweeted out an interesting tidbit of information on his Twitter account, which in a nutshell says that he feels that Natal has potential, and that Microsoft has until October to get it right. So the obvious question is, does that imply that Natal gets an October launch (which does fit in with the holiday 2010 launch period)? Or does it mean it has to all be done so they can start packing and shipping devices for launch in early November? I’m sure everything will be made clear in a couple of months at E3.
Hit the break for a video of Jonathan giving Project Natal a try.