The $249 Zune 80 is Microsoft’s latest attempt to kick the iPod in the nuts, praying to crack Jobs’ titanium-diamond alloy cup through Wi-Fi features and a touch of divine intervention. CNET, Wired, Dean Takahashi, PCWorld and YahooTech struck first with reviews on the new device. Their verdicts? The cup has not yet been breeched, but Microsoft is making very solid improvements on the brand.
PCMag We’ll just come out and say it: The 80GB Zune trumps the iPod Classic…For the same $250 price as the 80GB iPod classic, the new Zune 80GB offers a much larger screen, FM radio, wireless player-to-player sharing, Wi-Fi syncing with your PC, and a rear panel that can be customized with some cool artwork–for free. Simply put, Apple is no longer the leader in the realm of hard drive-based players. While the Zune 80GB and the iPod classic are both outstanding devices, the Zune has more features–and it’s more fun.
CNET The 80GB Zune cuts a much slimmer figure than its bricklike older brother. Measuring 4.3 inches high by 2.4 inches wide by 0.5 inch deep, Microsoft shaved some considerable bulk off the Zune’s thickness, while nearly tripling its capacity…we believe the latest crop of Zunes should finally take hold as a true iPod alternative. (83/100)
PCWorld All of the new Zunes are built around a rounded touch-sensitive control that also doubles as a clickable d-pad-style controler, much like the Click Wheel on Apple’s iPods. Flick your thumb up or down the pad repeatedly, and you begin to build up momentum while scrolling through long lists. At any time, you can tap to stop the scrolling, though it will eventually come to stop naturally. In my experience, it’s a very fun way to navigate through a music collection, even in a long view of artists on the 80GB player…All in all, the 80GB Zune is a decent choice as an 80GB MP3 player. (no score at this time)
Wired Video performance is very good, with the screen size really helping…Battery life didn’t meet the published specs of 20 hours for music and 4 hours for video with the Wi-Fi turned off. My rundown test on music was 18 hours, and video was 3.5 hours, which is, you know, fine…. Would I recommend the Zune? Yeah, I think I would. If you’re not invested in the iPod/iTunes ecosystem, it’s the most polished competitor I’ve used to date. Especially if you’re looking for a subscription service, the integration of player and service just crushes everyone else. (6/10)
YahooTech …the most innovative new feature on the Zune: wireless syncing. Setup was a piece of cake: you just connect the Zune to your PC via USB, fire up the Zune software, and enable wireless syncing under the Settings menu. If your system is already connected to a wireless network, those settings are transferred to the Zune automatically—no need to key in the access point name or password…automatic syncing only works when the Zune is plugged into its charging dock. Overall, I thought wireless syncing worked pretty seamlessly, and I loved being able to sync new songs and playlists over the air (why can’t the iPhone or the iPod Touch do this?)
Dean Takahashi The Zune Marketplace website looks better than iTunes because it feels less like a spreadsheet. It still uses the MTV Urge back-end but is completely redesigned…. All of these things represent improvements that allow Microsoft to claim that it is going its own way. Clearly, they aren’t copying Apple…At this rate of improvement, Microsoft will be a contender. But it has a long way to go before it keeps Steve Jobs up at night. – Zune fans should be happy with the improvements, but even more, that the big new features are software based and free for everyone.
“Moments ago I finished reading John Markoff’s New York Time’s piece entitled, “As Apple Gains PC Market Share, Jobs Talks of a Decade of Upgrades” and it added to my belief that the introduction of Leopard this Friday is going to mark the tipping point of Apple’s acceleration in the PC marketplace (disclaimer: I own a fair number of shares in Apple).
Much analysis and opinion has swirled around this coming OS upgrade — most positive and pleased with features — but I’m going to point out what I see as a deeper meaning behind some of the top features and why a tipping point will occur:
1) Time Machine: We all have the best intentions to backup but most of us just don’t. Now that many of us have both a desktop, a laptop, an iPod and many an iPhone too, keeping everything in sync is a friggin’ nightmare. As more new form factors arrive (like the rumored Mac tablet/multi-touch device/ultralight portable), keeping our data synchronized is going to be even more challenging. From what I’ve seen and played with in the developer version, this is going to be a laughingly simple backup and sync that normal non-techies will adore.
2) iChat: I just cannot emphasize enough what a game-changer this could be. Every single day I connect with someone that wants to show me something or have me show them. Videos, presentations, web sites and more are shared but it just isn’t easy. I have an atypical ability to communicate with all the available tools at my fingertips, but almost everyone I connect with gets frustrated because they can’t return the favor.
3) Parental Controls: If you don’t have kids (and especially a teenage boy like I do!) this isn’t a big deal perhaps, but the ease of setting this up, controlling access and some level of filtering is fantastic. I’ve actually delayed a purchase of a 3rd party application that does much of this in order to use Leopard’s…it’s that good.
4) Boot Camp: Though I run Parallels on my Mac with Windows XP installed, I’ve discovered that I almost NEVER USE WINDOWS for anything. There was a period of time where I absolutely required it, but as I write this I’m struggling to figure out what’s out there that I can’t do on my Mac. Still, I’ve loaded even old PC games in Parallels and it’s just too slow. My son and his pals are pumped for Leopard (two of them are PC users whose parents will buy a Mac but wouldn’t use a beta Boot Camp pre-Leopard) since they’ll be using the reboot-into-Windows capability to load the machine with games. This will be a game-changer (pun intended) since all PC games will run in a PC environment and a Mac can now be two machines for the price of one!
5) Dashcode: For power users and web developers, I believe this is going to be THE biggest and most important feature in Leopard. Why? Imagine libraries of thousands of widgets as well as every creator of application functionality has widgets as part of what they deliver. Most people don’t know what widgets are and don’t care. But for those that do, this extremely simple method of creating them is going to change delivery of applications and information on the Web.”
“The first generation 30GB Zune—which 1.2 million of you already purchased—is getting all the new Zune’s features. All. Sure, the new Zune is more of a half step forward than a completely new design. But Microsoft’s done something fantastic here by rewarding first gen buyers with cool new stuff that also happens to be free by software upgrade. And talk about spin— Microsoft just took a middling jump in hardware and turned it into a genuinely good move for loyalists (as well as a PR miracle). Are you paying attention Apple?”Original story
The next-generation Zune has just been announced, coming at you with a price tag of $249 for the 80GB hard drive model and $149/$199 for the 4GB and 8GB flash-based models respectively.
Zune Scene has a leaked image that’s supposedly three display units at a “large retailer” for the upcoming Zunes. If these are on target, there’s going to be at least a pink and brown flash-based Zune that’s smaller than the current one, and a black hard drive Zune that’s about the same size as the old one.
“Vgchartz.com, the most comprehensive Videogame charts in the world has announced that lifetime sales of Nintendo’s Wii have passed Microsoft’s Xbox 360 on a worldwide basis as of August 23rd. (*)
Two years ago, very few analysts would have predicted the Nintendo Wii would be market leader this generation against the established Playstation and Xbox brands. But analysts can be in error: Vgchartz.com data, which is based on sample data from retailers all over the world indicates that the week ending August 23rd Nintendo’s Wii (which was released one year after the Xbox 360 in November 2006), currently standing at 10.57 million consoles sold, passed Xbox 360 lifetime sales of 10.51 million units, making Nintendo the new market leader in both the home and handheld videogame console businesses.
As weekly data from vgchartz.com shows(**), the console outsold Microsoft’s Xbox 360 by a margin of 2.3 : 1 worldwide on average each week since its release, selling at an even faster rate than the most successful console ever created, Sony’s Playstation 2, despite still being sold out in most major markets.
This is the first time that a company has been market leader in the home console and the handheld market since 1994 when Nintendo’s Super NES and Gameboy dominated worldwide.
Vgchartz.com is proud to be first to announce this major sales cross over as an independent tracker of sales and expect this to be a milestone for the current generation. In just two years, home console sales for the three major manufacturers have effectively reversed. This will have a large impact on third party publishers and will undoubtedly influence the decisions they make in the future.
One factor that has no doubt helped Nintendo’s Wii to gain so quickly is the console’s broad appeal across all age groups, demographics and countries. Current sales are pretty evenly split between the three major markets – 3.46 million have been sold in Japan, the American market (including Canada and South America) accounts for 4.24million and Other markets (including Europe and Australia and a few niche markets) for 2.87 million units sold, respectively.”
“Yes sir, Europe too is getting an Xbox price reduction announcement this morning. Starting Friday, our cultured brethren with better hair cuts will see the 20GB Premium model drops €50 to €349.99 while the disk-less Core version falls €20 to €279.99. The 24th also marks the European introduction of 120GB Elite model for €449.99. Welcome to the brave new world kids.”
“Yeah, we too are a bit miffed at why you’d want your Xbox 360 to look more like, well, itself, but a modder over at Xbox-Scene apparently felt that Microsoft simply stopped short of the goal. The customized machine sports an Xbox 360-themed grill insert, a host of internal green LEDs, an Xbox 360 controller emblem, and an internalized WiFi adapter. Click on for a few more snapshots, and don’t be surprised if this guy hears from Redmond about a future in console design.”