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Microsoft will be offering new 120GB and 8GB Zune models

Microsoft launched its Zune digital audio players (DAP) hoping to dethrone Apple and its dominating iPod from the top of the DAP heap. As it turns out, the Zune proved to be no match for the iPod. The iPod sits firmly at the top of the sales pecking order while Microsoft languishes much farther down the list of the most popular DAPs around.

Despite the sales figures, not being what Microsoft hoped for, it is still trudging along with new models and updates to the software to bring about the "Zune Social". In May of 2008, Microsoft launched the Zune 2.5 update and episodes of TV shows. Later in May of 2008, GameStop announced that demand for the Zune in its stores was so low it would no longer be carrying the products.

Engadget reports that information on new Zune models has surfaced from B&H Photo. A 120GB Zune in black will be available for $249.95. An 8GB Blue flash-based Zune will be available for $149.95. Zunerama reports that it has received a screen shot from someone at Wal-Mart that shows the black 80GB Zune and the 4GB Zune have been discontinued. The screen shot is so blurry as to be virtually unreadable.

If the screenshot is accurate, it would seem the 80GB hard drive based Zune is being replaced with the 120GB version. The 4GB flash based Zune is phased out in favor of the 8GB version.

The players would go head to head with Apple's classic iPod 80/160 GB players, priced at $249/$299, and its 8GB flash iPod Nano, generally available for around $179.99.  In the previous generation, the iPod featured better battery life, while the Zune sported a bigger screen and some extra features, though there's no telling how the next generation models of the two players will stack up.


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By SiliconAddict on 9/3/2008 1:15:47 PM , Rating: 2
Overall I like the Zune. I really do. However there are several nagging issues. The biggest being the pile of crap that is their rating system. Sorry but hearts and broken hearts is not enough. I do need at minimum a 4 star rating system.
Beyond that I would very much like a smart playlist option.

If MS can do that I would easily sell my 160GB iPod Classic. The UI is too slow. The UI feels like it was designed in 2001...because it was. The system is still glitchy when it comes to the scroll wheel. But beyond that its a good player as well. I just wish Apple would update the damn UI on the thing.




By tdawg on 9/3/2008 2:01:04 PM , Rating: 2
I'm with you, the rating system is basically useless.

They do have smart playlists that you can setup in the Zune software. The problem is that they don't dynamically change on the device itself, so if I change the rating on a song, it won't enter or exit my "smart" playlist until I resync the device.


By Ricardo Dawkins on 9/3/2008 10:42:09 PM , Rating: 2
The ratings are updated in a auto-playlist. Your Zune must have a link relationship to your computer and trhat is all.(ie no Guest mode)

Playcounts are updated, too.


By silversound on 9/3/2008 2:11:36 PM , Rating: 1
New iPod is coming next week, who cares about zune now?

iPod touch got GPS now, what does zune need to offer in order to compete?


By ImSpartacus on 9/3/2008 3:56:56 PM , Rating: 3
Can you honestly look me in the eye (errr...) and tell me that you would use a freakin GPS on an MP3 player? Seriously?

I just want something cheap that looks sexy that I can throw through a few walls and still listen to music and maybe a few videos on.

Give me a clean UI and solid music quality anytime over a freakin GPS.

Hell, maybe you can throw in wifi and let me download music at hotspots, that would be ok, but I don't need much more than that.


By RussianSensation on 9/3/2008 4:28:31 PM , Rating: 2
"I just want something cheap that looks sexy that I can throw through a few walls and still listen to music and maybe a few videos on. Give me a clean UI and solid music quality anytime over a freakin GPS."

I think exactly like you which is why I didn't even buy an MP3 player in the first place and got a Sony Ericsson Walkman phone (along with $15 Sennheiser headphones which retailed for $80). The ease of use and not being constrained to share music between computers frankly makes me wonder why one would ever want an ipod? You can pick up phone memory for $20 to get you to 4GB of the ipod...My battery life is also superior to all my friend's iphones (at least from anecdotal evidence).


By encryptkeeper on 9/4/2008 1:50:00 PM , Rating: 2
The ease of use and not being constrained to share music between computers frankly makes me wonder why one would ever want an ipod?

The only "protected" music that can't be moved from one computer to another is music bought off iTunes' site. But now, most of it is non protected. Even if you run into music that IS protected, all you have to do is run it through iTunes' converter and convert it to MP3 format, then change it back to aac. Voila, you have unprotected music, easy as that. I love my 80 gb iPod. I wish Apple would combine the 80 gb model with phone functionality. The iPhone's main problem (other than being limited to AT&T) is the fact that the memory is so limited. I want SPACE. I'd also like wireless headphones, kind of like CODEC in Metal Gear Solid. You could listen to it and no one would know you had it on.


By michael2k on 9/3/2008 5:23:34 PM , Rating: 3
Why do you limit the iPod to an MP3 player?

Why not a GPS that plays MP3s? Or a internet browser that plays MP3s? Or an email checker?

The iPod touch happens to be a computer, a freaking computer, that lets you play music, videos, browse the web, check email, and now, evidently, has GPS.

If what you want is cheap/sexy/durable, you want the iPod nano.


By Bonrock on 9/3/2008 8:44:31 PM , Rating: 4
"If what you want is cheap/sexy/durable, you want the iPod nano."

...Or the Zune 4GB or Zune 8GB, which are both cheaper than the equivalent iPod Nanos, look just as good, and have all the same features.

Why do you limit the MP3 player to just the iPod?


By michael2k on 9/4/2008 1:48:44 AM , Rating: 2
I've never used a Zune; I can't recommend it blindly without actually using it.

The iPod nano, however, I've used and love and can recommend.

In any case, the dude wants a subscription plan, not an MP3 player.


By kelmon on 9/4/2008 4:57:42 AM , Rating: 2
* Looks ImSpartacus squarely in the eye *

Yes, I would use GPS on an MP3 player.

I don't have a GPS unit at the moment but I wish to buy one. What I don't want is an in-car unit because we tend to end up walking in places like London and Brussels, so a handheld unit will be a must. Currently I am contemplating the iPhone 3G but since I don't actually use a phone that much the phone bit might be a waste. Given this an iPod Touch with GPS might not be a bad solution, assuming that the GPS aspect of it works well and we'll get the turn-by-turn system that is expected. GPS, to me, would be an important feature that would make me upgrade from my current 80GB iPod.

The MP3 player evolved years ago beyond simply playing music. Right now the iPod Touch and iPhone look like being what I wished my old Palm V was when I bought it.

All this said, however, there's not been anything concrete to say that the iPod Touch will incorporate GPS. Next week we will see...


By Parhel on 9/4/2008 11:12:51 AM , Rating: 2
You might be a bit disappointed if you plan on using the iPhone for a GPS. Tom's Hardware recently did a video review of the iPhone. From that, and from what else I've read, it appears that no amount of software will ever allow the GPS in the iPhone to provide turn-by-turn directions. It doesn't have the necessary accuracy due to the lack of an external antenna. My Garmin Nuvi absolutely doesn't work at all unless you raise the antenna. By the way, the Nuvi can play MP3s. I've never used it for that, so I can't speak for how it compares to an iPod.


By kelmon on 9/4/2008 11:28:02 AM , Rating: 2
I guess this is something that we will have to wait and see about. However, I must confess that I don't consider Tom's Hardware to be a reliable source of information, particularly after they tried to convince us that SSDs were no more energy efficient than HDDs. Apple still says that the software update that will enable the iPhone to determine your current direction is coming later this year. Whether that will be enough or not remains to be seen, but since I intend to use it mostly when walking I don't think it is going to be an issue.


By Parhel on 9/4/2008 11:50:04 AM , Rating: 2
You're right in that Tom's isn't a quality reference, but there have been several rumors to the effect that we won't see true GPS on the iPhone. At this point, considering Apple's track record of promising more than they can deliver with the iPhone, I won't believe it until I see it.

Don't get me wrong . . . I've seen the iPhone, and from my limited experience, I think it's a great product. But it's only great as a combination MP3 player and phone. If you buy one expecting to get a fully functional web browser and a GPS, you'll be disappointed.


By KernD on 9/3/2008 11:18:26 PM , Rating: 2
The Zune has something that's allot more useful, that Apple never cared about, a radio receiver. It's so simple, that's one of the big selling point for me. I listen to it every morning going to work, and then it's MP3 for the rest of the work day. Keeps me up to date on local news, that isn't covered on the net news I check. They also have better coverage of politics than the net....

I reverse your question, who cares about a new version of the IPod, every one who want one already has one?


None of this matters
By Ryanman on 9/3/08, Rating: 0
RE: None of this matters
By Devo2007 on 9/3/2008 1:17:33 PM , Rating: 5
Guess I'm the exception to this rule. When it came time for me to choose a new MP3 player, I picked up the Zune 80. I've used an iPod before and didn't see what was special about it. Sound quality was just so-so (not using the stock earbuds btw), and I don't care for the click wheel.

I'm still a happy Zune user. Also, for those wondering, you don't need to buy new headphones with the Zune -- the stock ones are actually quite decent (unlike the iPod). Of course, most iPod users don't care about sound quality so I guess that's a moot point (judging from the number of white earbuds I see on my daily commute).


RE: None of this matters
By novacthall on 9/3/2008 1:48:04 PM , Rating: 2
Dittos to the above.

I retired my iPod that I got in 2004 this year after 4 years of faithful service for a Zune 8. I absolutely love it, and haven't regretted the decision one bit. My wife even retired her iPod that I bought for her to pick up a Zune after playing with mine.

I don't really fit Apple's target market, though. I never purchased anything off the ITMS. I still buy CDs. I don't have a commute that I can watch TV shows on, nor do I travel enough to need one. I dislike being associated with anything remotely "trendy" (in all fairness, that's my problem, not theirs).

As far as sound quality goes, I typically think my hearing is pretty good, but I honestly can't tell the difference. The Zune seems to pick up more interference from my work Nextel phone than did my iPod, but I don't think that's a Zune problem so much as it's a "it's 2008 and you're playing an MP3 player through your tape deck, dummy" problem. I use Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones when I travel and my music sounds great.

The one thing I miss is an equalizer, but iPod's was horrible anyway, so I'd rather not have any at all than one I can't use. I'm looking forward to see how they grow the device.

No love lost, I just didn't need an iPod.


RE: None of this matters
By michael2k on 9/3/2008 3:59:58 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like the Zune is the new Mac :)


RE: None of this matters
By clovell on 9/3/2008 2:38:34 PM , Rating: 2
I have to agree. I went with the Zune, and subscribe to the unlimited download service for $15/month, and I couldn't be happier. I've actually discovered a lot of new music throught it. Being able to actually enjoy a movie on long flights is nice, too.


RE: None of this matters
By Jackattak on 9/3/2008 2:57:48 PM , Rating: 3
Count me in. I totally bought a 1st-Gen Zune over the iPod a few years ago. I hate iPods. The click wheel is horrible and iTunes works as well with Windoze as an Ubuntu app.

My wife was an avid iPod user, having gone through a few different styles over the years, until she one day used my Zune. I bought her the 2nd-Gen 80GB in red the next day and she's never looked back at her stupid iPod. Heck I can't even sell the stupid thing on craigslist because no one wants it! So her iPod just sits completely unused while we're now a happy Zunerific family. :)


RE: None of this matters
By Ryanman on 9/3/2008 4:42:36 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not saying other people aren't the exception. I myself have a creative vision M I bought for 200 bucks 2 or 3 years ago. It had the same capacity as the Ipod, with greater sound range, video, and radio/microphone recording capability. Given, the thing's twice as thick and the battery life only runs about 4hours for video, but there ARE people who beat the apple machine.

I'm just disappointed there aren't more who do so.


RE: None of this matters
By marsbound2024 on 9/3/2008 9:23:39 PM , Rating: 2
It's about marketing and the "cool" factor. You can't be cheesy and you have to be up with the latest trends/fads. Apple does this well. It's commercials and product design scream new. Though other products may be technically better bangs-for-the-buck, they won't get near the market penetration because they can't compete with the vast iPod accessories out on the market and how they've already made a name for themselves.


Get with the after market program guys!!!
By Mitch101 on 9/3/2008 1:21:21 PM , Rating: 3
I have a Zune (Love it), Several Sansa's (Both Good and Bad)(Rockbox loaded on one also), and am forced into getting the wife an iPod. This isn't bad lets face it the iPod is a good piece of tech it just carries that Apple price tag and I can change the battery if needed.

Why?
Simply because of the after market stuff made.

I have been searching for halfway decent Zune or Sansa boomboxes. Something to just pop in the MP3 player and go. Most are junk or severely overpriced or just not made for Sansa or Zune. At least ones that put out decent power too and if they do ouch the price (Altec Lansing's). The iPod ones are priced well however the iPod comes at a hefty cost and there is plenty to choose from. Forget being a fan of any of them for a plethora of after market stuff the iPod wins hands down.

My wife is a pre school teacher and wanted a boombox. Something that played without the use of CD's which get scratched easily, dissapear, etc that she can carry in an our of school. This way she doesn't have to worry about disc problems. It must be easy to navigate like the Zune. Yes I have seen the Jwin boombox which used a USB or SD memory card but the navigation lacks. The best solution for her is an iPOD and boombox style carry unit that also has a remote as an added bonus all on the cheap.

If there is one message I want to make clear to the iPod competitors is that your never going to beat the iPod without designing boomboxes, clock radio, Stereo Ports, FM Broadcasters, etc that work with your player. Using the audio jack is a mess compared to just docking and go.




RE: Get with the after market program guys!!!
By ATC on 9/3/2008 2:29:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If there is one message I want to make clear to the iPod competitors is that your never going to beat the iPod without designing boomboxes, clock radio, Stereo Ports, FM Broadcasters, etc that work with your player. Using the audio jack is a mess compared to just docking and go.

Completely agree. The 3rd party support for the iPod is what makes it a killer. Zune, or whomever else, really have no chance until they break into that 3rd party support. You also forgot to mention cars that have the iPod dock. Quite a few cars have them now; yet another accessory that makes the iPod unbeatable.


RE: Get with the after market program guys!!!
By Mitch101 on 9/3/2008 3:37:21 PM , Rating: 2
I think someone should make an iPod to Zune/Sansa/Zen adapter/sleeve that slips over the iPod docks by now. I haven't looked at the pinout but an adapter shouldn't be that difficult to make.

Just put your Zune/Sansa/Zen into a sleeve and its not iPod dock compatible in some devices. Maybe not full functionality but if it works in most devices it would be great.


By Parhel on 9/4/2008 12:14:07 PM , Rating: 2
That's a great idea, but I bet there would be major software compatability issues. What they need are some industry standards for both hardware and software. It sucks to be locked into an iPod because your car supports it.


Awesome!
By therealnickdanger on 9/3/2008 11:43:14 AM , Rating: 1
I can't wait to NOT buy it! :P

Sorry... I'm sure the new Zune will be great. It's hard for me to get excited for PMPs when I can stream my music, video, and picture library from home to my phone (Sprint Touch) using Orb. If I'm not within EVDO range, the memory card can hold plenty of my favorites until I'm able to connect again.




RE: Awesome!
By omnicronx on 9/3/2008 11:55:48 AM , Rating: 2
I do the same thing as you, but I can't stand having to bring that stupid mini-USB attachment with me everywhere I go in order to listen to music. I've already lost 3 of them =P

The zune is pretty cool, it syncs over wireless and I like the interface much better than the Ipod, the 'squicle' touch pad is pretty cool too. The only downfalls it has are, the countless amounts of ipod accessories that available compared to the zune. You can buy a good ipod radio for 40-50 bucks if you know where to find it. And The fact that MS is trying to sell the zune at exactly the same price as the Ipod is pretty mind boggling.

The zune has to be priced at least 20$ lower than the ipod to get any tranction at all whatsoever, I don't know what MS was thinking, regardless of the extra features that the zune provides, they still have to outprice the Apple image in order to get sales. You would think with the billions of dollars spent on market research they would have come to this conclusion...


RE: Awesome!
By Totally on 9/3/2008 4:02:45 PM , Rating: 2
but that's where marketing and public image rear their ugly heads. Apple would probably pump out campaigns that the Zune is inferior and the lower price is proof.


8gb version
By omnicronx on 9/3/2008 11:39:52 AM , Rating: 2
There always was an 8GB version of the new zune.. I've had one for 3 months... It sounds like they are replacing the 80GB with a 120GB, and they are merely discontinuing the 4GB version, which nobody was buying because everywhere I went, the 4GB Nano was cheaper, and has video out.




RE: 8gb version
By imperator3733 on 9/3/2008 6:40:53 PM , Rating: 2
It looks like the 4GB is being discontinued with the 8GB taking its place while a new 16GB flash Zune takes the 8GB's price point. (http://community.winsupersite.com/blogs/paul/archi...

I haven't heard anything suggesting that Microsoft will do this, but wouldn't it make sense to replace the old Zune 30 with a new Zune 40 that has the same hardware as the Zune 80/120?


ZUNE & IPOOD.....haha
By catalysts17az on 9/3/2008 5:39:03 PM , Rating: 2
i really wanted a ZUNE but i went with an Ipood 80GB (not a mispelling) the reason being i love some of the podcasts that come out in video especially David malans podcasts that are from Harvard, which to my limited knowledge i can not comvert. i also have a Vision M (30GB) that i love but use it for only music. so help me out guys, can we change video podcast from itunes into another format to be downloaded to a ZUNE? Please post answers.

Thanx for any insight to this problem.




RE: ZUNE & IPOOD.....haha
By BMFPitt on 9/3/2008 6:18:14 PM , Rating: 2
No conversion needed, unless they're doing something really weird like using iTunes DRM.


Inaccurate info
By Locutus465 on 9/3/2008 11:40:00 AM , Rating: 2
There's some inaccurate info here, Zune has featured one pass (monthly song sub) for as long as I've been using the service (fall of last year). I wouldn't be too supprised to find that it's always had one pass.

One negative change they made with the 2.x zune software is removing the ability to browse music by year.




Will get the 120GB
By Tacoloft on 9/3/2008 2:05:00 PM , Rating: 2
I just bought the 8GB for my wife last month and she loves it. Reason being is that I have too many friends that have been burned by ipod hardware or itunes software. I have been waiting for a larger HDD available in the zune family for myself and this proves to be good news.




2 Little 2 Late
By Smartless on 9/3/2008 3:22:27 PM , Rating: 2
But apparently 2 Legit 2 Quit. haha




Zune is alright
By Totally on 9/3/2008 3:58:34 PM , Rating: 2
The new firmware was a step back(rating system, on the fly play lists, and a couple other features being nixed), but an improvement overall. Needs to be able to be used as a portable hard drive natively, that is the single and most glaring con I have about it.




Here's A Tip ...
By kelmon on 9/4/2008 5:08:15 AM , Rating: 2
Gather 'round, Microsoft Executives, for I am about to dispense wisdom that will enable you to grow the market share of your Zune.

Are you ready?

SELL THE DAMNED THING OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES!

(* Deep breath *)

Look, this isn't complicated. You have a product that you want to challenge Apple's iPod. The problem is that you only sell it in the US whereas the iPod is available in every country in the known universe. This even applies to your other competitors. By not selling the device outside the US you have immediately shrunk your available market. It's been 2-years since you released the original Zune - are you seriously telling us that you aren't ready yet?

Oh, and stop pricing products in your Marketplace in silly Microsoft Points. People are far more comfortable in buying things when they understand how much it is going to cost them.




zune trumps ipod
By AndersMech on 9/11/2008 4:05:10 PM , Rating: 2
As a previous user of the iPods and now a happy user of the Zune 80 gig I can easily say that in terms of use, looks and functionality, the Zune beats the iPod. My first iPod, the mini, died after around 4 months, and the replacement died after 5. I then got a 80 gig iPod video, which was ok. Bland look, bland features and a small screen. I had that for about a year and a half before getting a Zune in March 08. It blew me away at how much better the Zune was than the iPod. It has a very large and clear screen, which works great for movies and viewing pictures. It has a very good and useful UI and looks just plain great. Even though it has some problems, like the rating system (which I do not use very much), it still looks and works better than any of my previous iPods.

After owning both iPods and a Zune, I can say that I think that the Zune is a much better MP3 player with a better UI, better looks and even better computer software. Also, for price, its pretty good.




Squirt
By tayhimself on 9/3/2008 11:44:56 AM , Rating: 1
I am going to squirt the social




,,
By thesid on 9/3/2008 1:24:21 PM , Rating: 1
well if its still going to be as fat an bulky as the old one.. they arent going to get anywhere with it




Zune Sucks
By coreanomac on 9/3/08, Rating: -1
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