While not as exciting when the Apple Store online goes down, you should still be aware that Microsoft has taken all Zune services down in preparation for the launch of the Zune 4.0 software, and the release of the Zune HD tomorrow. We are guessing things will be functional again around midnight tonight. In fact, you may wanna stop by Gear Live around that time as well. Just sayin’.
One things we’ve been wondering today, admidst all of the Apple It’s Only Rock and Roll event news, is how Microsoft was feeling, especially as it pertains to their Zune business, which is set for a major overhaul in six days. We got in contact with a Microsoft spokesperson, and asked them about what they thought of the new iPod and iTunes announcements. Here’s what they had to say:
Since our debut, Zune has offered a different kind of end-to-end digital entertainment experience that includes wireless MP3 players, a robust online store, music community and innovative software features that help users easily find the music and videos they love.
The entertainment experience for consumers hasn’t changed that much after Apple’s announcement today. Our point of view has always been that people want to be entertained, and they want a better way to watch and listen to the digital entertainment they love. We’re interested in getting you your content where you want it in rich, exciting ways. We look forward to sharing more on September 15th.
Okay, so Zune is all about music and videos - not games, video recording, and all that other stuff. We get it, and we like the focus. What we don’t like, though, is how Microsoft allowed Apple to steal their thunder by announcing the new line-up way after Microsoft announced the Zune HD, followed up by Apple launching the new iPods a week before the Zune HD hits stores.
In the meantime, if you’re a music fan looking for a new music player, we say wait until the fifteenth. What you see come out of the Zune camp may surprise you. All of you. I’ve already said too much.
Microsoft is jumping on that whole thin-is-in bandwagon with the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000. As the name implies, this is a Bluetooth-only device, powered by AAA batteries. The keyboard slopes downward, making the front event thinner. There’s also a curved keyboard layout, which Microsoft refers to as Comfort Curve. The keyboard is $89.95, and the numeric keypad is an extra $44.95. You’ll see these on store shelves in October.
Read More | Microsoft
Okay, hang on, we just posted about the Xbox 360 Elite price cut news, and now we are getting word that there may be a 250GB version of the Xbox 360 that will be dropping soon? According to Amazon Germany, there will soon be an Xbox 360 bundle that includes a 250GB head drive (over twice the size of the currently available 120GB drive,) 2 controllers, and Forza Motorsport 3. It’s priced at about $397, and we want it to be really. Very, very much.
It’s been rumored for weeks now that Microsoft would be slashing the price of the Xbox 360, and it’s finally been confirmed. Starting tomorrow, the Xbox 360 Elite drops $100, down to $299. The Xbox 360 Pro drops $50, down to $250, but that is while supplies last. Once they are gone, they are gone. The Xbox 360 Arcade will remain at $199. Going into the holiday season, that gives consumers two choices for the Xbox 360 - the $299 black Elite console, and the $199 white Arcade. This brings the Xbox 360 Elite in line with the $299 PS3 Slim at first glance, but of course, the Xbox 360 doesn’t have Wi-Fi built-in (that’ll cost you an extra $100,) nor does it play high definition physical media out of the box. Still though, it’s $100 less tomorrow than it is today, and that’s always a plus. You can pick one up over on Amazon.
I realize that many shoot their own version of EdTV or The Truman Show with their webcams every day, what with this whole YouTube thing we keep hearing about. If that is you, then you may be interested in Microsoft’s LifeCam Cinema, which records in 720p HD at 30 frames per second. The LifeCam Cinema also touts autofocus, 4x digital zoom, noise-canceling microphone, and ClearFrame for “smoother video” (whatever that is.) It will support Windows 7, and will be available for $80 on September 9th.
Read More | Pocket-Lint
We were able to spend some quality time with the Zune HD a couple of days ago, and we put together this video walkthrough of the interface on the device. Unfortunately, we weren’t connected to Wi-Fi, so we weren;t able to show web browsing, downloading from the Marketplace, or Social, but this gives you a really good idea of what to expect when you get pick up your Zune HD (available for pre-order now) come September 15th.
Our favorite feature? I’ll probably be using the pinned items on the side quite a bit, especially for the recently synched stuff. Quick access to things like that have been much needed on touch devices. A runner up would have to be the quick scroll in the music browser. Again, it saves you on just quickly swiping a bunch of times, hoping to get to the right spot.
All in all, we’re impressed. Of course, we will have a full Zune HD review when we get our own device. For now, be sure to read up on everything we know about the Zune HD.
If you couldn’t tell, we are just a little excited about the impending launch of the Zune HD, especially now that we’ve learned of its attractive price point. It’s never too early to start thinking about the accessories you might want to purchase alongside a device, so we wanted to fill you in on a few Zune HD accessories that are available for pre-order. The Zune HD AV Power Pack at $50, and the Zune HD AV Dock for $90. Here is a little information about each of them:
Zune HD AV Dock (Left in photo)
This all-in-one package enables your Zune HD player to charge sync and play supported 720p HD videos on your HDTV. Send music and HD Radio reception to your home audio system and control it all via a wireless remote.
Includes dock, three inserts (one for each Zune model), wireless remote, AC adapter, HDMI cable, and AV output cable. Zune HD player sold separately.
Compatible with: Zune HD (32 & 16), Zune 120, Zune 80, Zune 16, Zune 8, and Zune 4.
Zune HD Power Pack (Right in photo)
Connect your AV cable to your docked Zune HD to play music, HD Radio, and audio podcasts through your home audio system. The HDMI cable connects your docked Zune HD to HDTVs to view movies and videos. (Zune HD player required for HD video and HD Radio reception; sold separately. Zune HD AV Dock sold separately.)
Includes AC adapter, HDMI cable, and AV output cable.
Compatible with: Zune HD (32 & 16), Zune 120, Zune 80, Zune 16, Zune 8, Zune 4.
There’s also the Zune HD Premium Car Pack, for those of you who want to listen while on the go. Hey, the HD Radio alone might be reason enough to go that route.
That’s right, Microsoft has finally let the cat out of the bag on all the Zune HD info we’ve been craving, and we’ve got the full scoop for you right here. First and foremost, the Zune HD goes on sale on September 15, and will be available in 16GB and 32GB size capacities. The two units are identical in every way, other than storage capacity, so let’s run down some of those specs.
- Built-in HD Radio receiver
- 720p HD video output through a premium dock (costs extra)
- OLED touchscreen: 3-3-inches, 16:9, scratch-resistant glass
- Built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi
- Web browser
- NVIDIA Tegra low-power HD processor
The Onyx Black 16GB Zune HD will sell for $219.99, while the Platinum Silver 32GB model will sell for $290 - compare that to the $299 and $399 prices for the 16GB and 32GB iPod touch, respectively. If you aren’t down with black or platinum, wait until September 15, and you’ll be able to pick from five other colors through the Zune Originals program. We’ve got even more specs for you after the cut, but if you’ve heard all you needed to hear and want to pre-order the device immediately, head on over to Amazon where you can find the 32GB Silver Zune HD, as well as the 16GB Black model.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard rumblings that Netflix streaming would be coming to both the PS3 and Wii, but apparently, all that is now out the window, because Microsoft has been able to score an exclusive console partnership with Netflix. Read on:
This exclusive partnership offers you the ability to instantly stream movies and TV episodes from Netflix to the television via Xbox 360. Xbox 360 will be the only game console to offer this movie-watching experience, available to Xbox LIVE Gold members who are also Netflix unlimited plan subscribers**, at no additional cost.
From the Netflix Web site, simply add movies and TV episodes to your instant Queue, which will appear automatically on the TV screen via Xbox 360. Once selected, movies will begin playing in as little as 30 seconds. In addition to instantly streaming Netflix movies to the TV, Xbox LIVE Gold members can browse and rate movies, fast-forward, pause and rewind, all using either their Xbox 360 Controller or Universal remote.
Now, of course, we assume this just means that the Xbox 360 gets an exclusive on full console integration. But hey, you can just go download PlayOn if you really want to access Netflix from your Playstation 3 or Wii. Problem solved.
Read More | Xbox