Microsoft has unveiled the new Zunes, and the initial reports are good! Engadget says that the Zune’s “definitely have a lot going for them” while jkOnThe Run says that the Zune has taken “2 steps in the right direction.” It’s not so much the hardware that’s going to wow consumers, it’s the software. Of course Microsoft is a software company, so it comes as no surprise that the new line-up has some awesome software-based features. And to boot, Microsoft is taking care of their “early adopters.” The original Zune users will get all of the same software features in an update that the new Zune users will experience. Nice, huh?
As we reported earlier, there are three new versions of the Zune. There’s the hard drive Zune offered in black with 80GB of storage priced at $250, and then two different Flash versions which are much smaller in size. The 8GB Flash Zune will sell for $200 while the 4GB Flash Zune will sell for $150. Both of the Flash Zune’s will be offered in pink, green, black, and red (yes, Microsoft ditched the brown). New to the Zune this time around is a new hardware feature called the “Zune Pad.” It’s a touch sensitive pad with up, down, left, and right buttons.
Now on to the features! There are three main features that have been added:
- Wireless Sync - The Zune will automatically sync over an owners home wireless network. The syncing process will start when the device is set in the dock, plugged in to charge, or a user can manually start the syncing process.
- Take your TV shows with you – If you have Media Center for Vista, you can import your recorded TV content from your media center to your Zune to watch on the bus, on your breaks at work, etc.
- Extended Wireless Sharing – full length songs, albums, playlists, pictures, and podcasts can be shared from one Zune to another. Songs that are shared can be listened to for up to three times with no restrictions
Want to see the new Zunes in action? The video below will give a decent idea of what to expect:
Along with the announcement from Microsoft about the new line-up, they also mentioned that the Zune was going social with “Zune Social” – an online community (in beta) that is “built around and powered by people’s passion for music.” While it sounds nice, I can’t see people going there to share their music tastes with others, and creating a friends list. There are too many social networks that people are a part of already, so I’m going to speculate and say that Zune Social could potentially be a flop.
The only thing that the Zune is really lacking is the capability to access the Zune Marketplace wirelessly, otherwise as Engadget said, they definitely have a lot going for them. And the fact that they’re taking care of the early adopters of the original Zune will help them gain user loyalty. People will be willing to purchase another Zune knowing that Microsoft will take care of them in the future. While Microsoft hasn’t given a specific release date, you can expect the new line-up of Zune’s to be released sometime in November.