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!
For those of you who weren’t able to get into the Preview Program, you can now rest assured that the latest Xbox 360 features, including Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm, and Zune Marketplace with instant on 1080p streaming, will be arriving on all Xbox 360 consoles on November 17th. Yup, that’s just five days away, which isn’t that bad at all. To celebrate the launch of the new dashboard, all Xbox Live Gold features will be available to Xbox Live Silver members from November 20-23, allowing Silver members to sample Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm, and online multiplayer. Oh, what’s that? You didn’t know that only Xbox Live Gold members were able to use the new social networking aspects of the dashboard? Yeah, major fail, we agree.
We previewed the dashboard in a recent episode of Bleeding Edge TV, which you can check out at the top.
One of the main gripes we’ve had with Microsoft as it pertains to the Zune platform is that they have stubbornly decided to keep it to a PC-only experience, leaving those of us who live in OS X out in the cold. Well, starting today, that changes. Kind of.
You see, the Zune Marketplace is now a part of Zune.net. Aside from having the largest audio and video podcast streaming directory, Zune now allows you to log in and listen to music from the Marketplace in any browser that supports Silverlight 3. Technically, Microsoft says that this experience is officially supported in Internet Explorer and Firefox, but we will have to give it a shot in Safari. Anyhow, the caveat here is that you can log in as a Zune Pass subscriber and stream music. This doesn’t solve the problem that those on a Mac have where they can’t sync their Zune hardware or download music. Still, though, it’s a step in the right direction, and a nice bonus for Zune Pass subscribers to be able to access and stream music, including Smart DJ playlists, on the fly. This basically turns any computer running IE or Firefox into a terminal for you to log in and crank those Zune tunes, and we like it.
For those wondering, any activities you do with Zune.net stream will also be reflected in your Zune account and Zune Card. How cool is that?
The wait for the big Zune refresh that a lot of us have been clamoring for is finally over. Today, the Zune HD launches, available from the Microsoft online store, Amazon, Best Buy, and others. Alongside that launch comes a much-improved Zune software and services package. That’s right, Zune 4.0 is here, and there’s lots to cover. Let’s dive in and take a look at all the major new features in Zune 4.0, as well as some of the smaller pieces of fit and finish that make this release shine, including the Zune Marketplace, Zune PC software, Zune on Xbox Live, and Zune.net.
From everything we’ve seen as it pertains to the Zune 4.0 software, this update is all about making music more enjoyable to listen to, easier to discover, and easier to manage. In addition, you get movies in the Zune Marketplace now (both rental and purchase,) Xbox Live integration, and a bunch of other features that make Zune 4.0 one of the best pieces of media management software that we’ve used to date.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Zune 4.0 is the Quickplay screen. Similar to the Quickplay area on the new Zune HD, the Zune desktop software gets similar treatment. Here you’ll be able to pin specific content to the area, get a look at new content you’ve recently added to your library, pull up recently played content, and also get direct access to your Smart DJ mixes. Smart DJ, you say? Yes, read on.
Yeah, in case you forgot, today is the day that the masses (including you) get access to all the fancy new features in the latest Xbox 360 Dashboard Update! I’m talking about things like Netflix Movie Parties, Games on Demand, the Avatar Marketplace, etc. You can get the full scoop on all the updates, both major and minor, at the link below. What we wanna know now, though, is how you are liking it. Let us know in the comments.
Oh, and remember, there is more to come in a couple of months, as we still have Twitter, Facebook, Last.fm, and Zune Marketplace with 1080p instant-on movie streaming to look forward to later this fall.
Read More | August 2009 Dashboard Update Details
This morning, Microsoft hooked us up with an early preview of the next Xbox 360 Dashboard Update. We were able to get a look at the new Netflix features (which no longer require a PC,) the Avatar Marketplace, Game Ratings, Games on Demand, and more. While more coveted features like Twitter, Facebook, Last.fm, and Zune Marketplace won’t be landing until the fall, the update is still a solid one. Here are our thoughts on the next update, which lands on your Xbox 360 on August 11 (or sooner if you apply for early access!)
As we all know Zune Marketplace is coming to the Xbox 360. Through the magic of Microsoft Silverlight, instant-on 1080p content will be available when the Marketplace comes to the Xbox 360; but did you know that you could check out the 1080p streaming now? All that you need are a compatible web browser with Microsoft Silverlight installed. As you’ll see in the demo, you can play around with the bit-rate to see exactly how the technology will work, and compensate for changes in your Internet speed. Check it out and let us know what you think, is this enough to replace Blu-Ray in your life?
Read More | Experience Smooth Streaming
Okay, we’ve been hitting you with snippets of Zune news all day, especially as it pertains to the hardware. Now it’s time to break down all the changes that the Zune 3.0 software is bringing, both from the hardware side of things, as well as the software client side of things. On the hardware side of things, we are seeing new features like support for games, the ability to buy songs tagged while using the FM radio, and the ability to browse and download from the Zune Marketplace directly from the device itself. Over on software, we see a bunch of improvements to the client that are all focused on music discovery and helping you experience your music library in a whole new way. A lot of the changes seem geared towards Zune Pass subscribers (which, by the way, we think is the best deal in music). Click on through for an in-depth look at all the important changes that Zune 3.0 brings.
Read More | The Bleeding Edge
Okay guys, we get it, you are interested in the Zune. It seems that since posting our last video where we got to play with the Zune outside of a club, people have been asking us for more. Well, here you go. A big thank you goes out to Doug Dobbins for hooking us up with this interview with a Zune beta tester at the Podcast Media Expo. This is about as complete a Zune video as you will find anywhere - nice shots of the interface and navigation scheme of the device are all included, along with a little magnetic headphone love.
The iPod-formatted h.264 file below is higher-resolution than the others, resulting in 640x480 video love.
On a related note, be sure to check out our Zune Hands-On gallery.
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