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New Microsoft Zunes

The updated line of Microsoft Zune portable media players is due to ship next week, with a disk-based player with more capacity, the first flash-based players, an updated software interface, relaxed restrictions on Wi-Fi sharing, and a new online community Web site.

I haven't had a chance to try them out, but you can check them online, and see my Portable Media Players Gallery for details and comparisons.

A new black Zune 80 GB hard-drive model ($249) joins the original 30 GB model ($149) -- with a slightly larger screen (3.2" vs. 3") at the same 320 x 240 resolution, and weighing less (4.5 vs. 5.6 oz.).

Plus, the line adds two models with flash memory, the Zune 4 and 8 GB ($149 and $199), available in pink, green, black, and glossy red. The screens are 1.8", but still 320 x 240, and they weigh 1.7 oz.

The added models have a new Zune Pad touch-sensitive navigation button, and a redesigned PC and device software with new menus and look and feel. Existing Zunes also can be updated with the new software.


All the Zunes continue to have a built-in FM radio, and Wi-Fi wireless networking (802.11g,b, 54/11 Gbps), with range up to 30 feet. While the Zune is positioned as a “connected entertainment" device, the original Wi-Fi networking was usable only for Zune-to-Zune sharing, and shared music was heavily restricted -- even unprotected files. The slightly relaxed restrictions now allow you to listen to shared songs up to three times, but with no time restrictions (they used to expire in three days), and songs that were shared to you can now be passed on to others. The Wi-Fi connection now also can be used for wireless sync with your PC media collection.

Finally, Microsoft has developed the Zune Social beta online community Web site to share your music tastes, knowledge and experiences with others. You even can create a Zune Card and personal profile at Zune.net to reflect your musical identity, and have the Zune software automatically post updates to reflect your music listening on the Zune or your computer, including most recently played tracks.

    Find the Microsoft Zune 80 GB and Zune 8 GB on Amazon.com

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This entry posted on November 9, 2007.

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