In twelve days, Microsoft launches their Zune portable media player and music service. Seems like as good a time as any to launch the official website for the platform as well, which is exactly what the company has done over at zune.net.
As a refresher, the Zune features 30 GB of storage space and will hit retail at $249 USD. If there is any device out there that can attempt to give the iPod somewhat of a run for it’s money, it’s the Zune. Do we think it will happen? No - we don’t. However, with the marketing budget that Microsoft is going to throw at this thing, who knows what will happen this holiday season?
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Attempting to give the Zune a run for its money, the Archos 604 WiFi offers a viable alternative to web surfing or exchanging data over the Internet. With its 4.5-inch 450 x 272 touchscreen, Windows file sharing, and a version of the Opera browser, the Archos can record up to 30 GB from any home entertainment source and holds up to 130 hours of TV, 85 movies, 15,000 tunes, or 300,000 photos. It also sports a removable battery and kickstand for tabletop viewing.
Go for the optional DVR Station accessory and you can record TV in MPEG-4 with Archo’s StationBright 4.3-inch TFT LCD or transfer photos from your digital cameras. You can also turn the Archos into a camcorder with zoom, video effects, and music. The 604 is available online now for $349.99.
Read More | Archos
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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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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
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.
Alright guys, we know how much you are looking forward to getting your hands on the Microsoft Zune. We get it. In fact, in an effort to satiate those of you who email us constantly asking for “behind-the-scenes” Zune information, you are in luck. The Gear Live crew was able to spend some time with a fully operational Zune, and we have the video footage to prove it. We walk you through the menu system and interface of the device, showing off a bunch of it’s features for you. Enjoy the video. Oh, and if you have any questions, feel free to let us know in the forums.
EDIT: Alright, we got a bit more information from Zune PR, and wanted to lay it on you, in case you were confused by anything stated in the video (or couldn’t hear it over the horrible trip hop beats). Just so we’re clear, here is the official status of Zune’s relationship to PlaysForSure: The PlaysForSure experience is designed to provide consumers with a consistent and guaranteed entertainment experience across the devices and services that are a part of the PFS ecosystem. Since Zune is a separate offering that is not part of the PlaysForSure ecosystem, Zune content is not supported on PlaysForSure devices. By the same token, Zune will work with Zune-specific content as well as non-DRM files.
Rumors have been floating around the internet for months now about Microsoft’s mysterious “iPod Killer,” the Zune portable media player, but until now, little has been confirmed. Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the Toshiba 1089 player, which apparently will be marketed by Microsoft as the Zune player. Getting Toshiba to manufacture the player is hardly surprising on Microsoft’s part, especially given their long history together, including their support for the HD DVD platform. Utilizing Toshiba’s manufacturing resources also eliminates the need for Microsoft to construct their own factories.
Fortunately, the Zune does not appear to be just a re-skinned Toshiba Gigabeat. In terms of specifications, the Zune player appears to be hard-drive based, using a 1.8” 30GB hard drive. It also comes with a reasonable 3-inch TFT display as well as an integrated FM tuner and USB 2.0 connectivity. The most fascinating aspect of the Zune, however, comes from its built-in wireless capabilities. It seems the rumors about Microsoft’s Zune network for downloading and sharing music and other media may be true after all.
Read More | FCC