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The Zune HD is officially available as of today

Today is the big day for fans of Microsoft's Zune -- the Zune HD is launching and new details about the device, and the software behind the scenes has turned up with the official launch. The new Zune 4.0 software to go along with the Zune HD player is now ready to download.

Older Zunes are getting some new software love too with a 3.2 update. The new software is fully Windows 7 compliant, naturally. It Supports all those nifty 7 features like Jump Lists, previews, and Aero Snap.

Other new features of the software include a Quickplay menu to access your favorite media on the Zune HD player. Smart DJ is rather like the Apple Genius feature and creates music mixes with similar genres from your collection and it will add music from the Zune marketplace for those with a Zune Pass.

A new Mini Player mode is now available that keeps the mini player on top of any PC apps that are running. Microsoft has also introduced download to rent or own movies and TV shows in SD and HD formats. Engadget also reports that the ability to move DRM tracks between Zune users has been removed from the new software.

Perhaps the most interesting new tidbit of info for the new Zune HD player is that Microsoft plans to position the device as a mobile gaming platform. If the popularity of gaming on the iPod touch and iPhone are an indication of the popularity of mobile gaming, this is a very good thing.

The official Microsoft press release states, "Later this year, Zune plans to release free applications such as Twitter for Zune and Facebook for Zune, in addition to fun 3-D games such as "Project Gotham Racing: Ferrari Edition," "Vans Sk8: Pool Service" and "Audiosurf(TM) Tilt." Games can be added to Zune HD via Zune Marketplace over the Wi-Fi connection or when connected to the Zune PC software."

Microsoft reports that its strategy at this point is to keep some games and apps offered on the Zune HD as free products that are developed in-house or in close collaboration with third parties. Premium 3D games will be items you have to purchase presumably. There will be no SDK to allow devs to build apps for the Zune HD at this point.

The launch of the Zune HD today also marks the retirement of all other Zune devices.



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Still sorely lacking in ID3 tagging
By zero2dash on 9/15/2009 11:20:54 AM , Rating: 1
Updated to 4.0 this morning. Like the new eye candy, hate the fact that the app is still pathetic when it comes to ID3 tagging. Don't really care about the DJ stuff (especially since it force overrides album art, and the WMP/Zune album art is low res).

Looks like I'll keep sticking with the Media Monkey + Zune (app) combo. I wish Media Monkey could sync with Zunes.




RE: Still sorely lacking in ID3 tagging
By smackababy on 9/15/2009 11:26:00 AM , Rating: 5
I've had few problems with ID3 tags and they were easily fixed with the "Find Album Info" option.


By therealnickdanger on 9/15/2009 11:39:02 AM , Rating: 5
Yeah, I've never had issues with ID3 tags either. Find Album info seems to solve everything.


RE: Still sorely lacking in ID3 tagging
By redog on 9/15/2009 4:18:26 PM , Rating: 2
'Find Album Info' usually works great but i still like to clean up some albums so they collate better (mainly for multi artist albums).

My biggest gripe is the fact you still can't make a play list for music already on your device. This becomes a problem when I'm at work and want to setup a play list for later in the day, car, etc and i don't have everything on the machine.

Wish they would make it more like iTunes in this regard.

-R


RE: Still sorely lacking in ID3 tagging
By Smilin on 9/15/2009 5:47:56 PM , Rating: 2
You can do this. Just play your first song/album.
Any additional ones you add to the now playing list (it adds to the list, not replacing it).

They used to have the "quick list" but removed it some versions ago.


By Souka on 9/15/2009 6:56:36 PM , Rating: 1
Just replace your Zune with a Fune

http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1919101


RE: Still sorely lacking in ID3 tagging
By MadMan007 on 9/16/2009 1:52:38 AM , Rating: 1
I don't let the Zune software touch my tags. I'm far too anal about doing them my way.


By zero2dash on 9/16/2009 12:01:29 PM , Rating: 2
Same here.

What I'm saying in the original comment is that the Zune app has paltry manual ID3 tag support. There's not much you can change (from what I remember). Granted, they may have added better manual ID3 tag support in Zune 4, but I haven't bothered with it because I'm too stringent in how my tags are and how they are updated, which is why I do all my ID3 tagging in Media Monkey.

Given the GUI differences, actually I do everything in MM except sync (because it doesn't support the Zune). If it did, I wouldn't use the Zune app whatsoever. Anytime I add something new to MM, I use the auto-tag feature, then the rename feature to organize things how I like them (similar to the structure iTunes uses, which is \artist\album\## track name.mp3).


Apple genius?
By clovell on 9/15/2009 11:35:01 AM , Rating: 3
> Other new features of the software include a Quickplay menu to access your favorite media on the Zune HD player. Smart DJ is rather like the Apple Genius feature and creates music mixes with similar genres from your collection and it will add music from the Zune marketplace for those with a Zune Pass.

How is this any different from the 'Picks for You' channel, that regularly updates based on your play history and functions like a subscription to a podcast? I just think a reference to the old software would have been nicer than a reference to iTunes for those of us who actually, y'know, have a Zune.




RE: Apple genius?
By CrazyBernie on 9/15/2009 11:40:08 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
I just think a reference to the old software would have been nicer than a reference to iTunes for those of us who actually, y'know, have a Zune.


Maybe so, but considering the iPod vs Zune market share, I'd wager that far more people will know what he's talking about if he makes the Apple comparison.


No SDK for Zune HD - Wrong
By TomZ on 9/15/2009 2:47:47 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
There will be no SDK to allow devs to build apps for the Zune HD at this point.
Microsoft released XNA Game Studio 3.1 Extensions, supporting the Zune HD, today, along with the release of the Zune HD itself:

This add-on for XNA Game Studio 3.1 adds the following functionality to the product:
- The ability to target and develop for the Zune HD media player

http://blogs.msdn.com/xna/archive/2009/09/15/xna-g...




Will Zune 80/120 get apps?
By Jackattak on 9/15/2009 1:23:01 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't have enough time to upgrade my Zune80 or wife's Zune120 before I left this morning for work.

Does anyone know if the Zune80/120 will get the app functionality included in the 4.0 firmware upgrade?

I will be buying a ZuneHD 32GB to replace my Zune80 in a month. Can't wait!




RE: Will Zune 80/120 get apps?
By Jackattak on 9/15/2009 1:59:40 PM , Rating: 2
Nevermind. The Zune software got the upgrade to 4.0.

The Zune firmware got the upgrade to 3.2, and the older Zunes get that as well (although I still don't know whether or not they will have app support).


Availability = FAIL
By chmilz on 9/15/2009 2:27:45 PM , Rating: 4
MS botched this hard. Should have been preceded with a massive, nay, MASSIVE ad campaign with simultaneous launches in US, Canada, EU, and anywhere else iPod Touch does well.

It'll sell, but its greatness will be lost due to irrelevance.




Software = Big improvement
By thekdub on 9/15/2009 9:32:28 PM , Rating: 2
Updated the software this morning and I have to say, I like it a lot. I loved the previous interface, but the new one seems even better. Quickplay screen is pretty cool too, and I absolutely love the ability to make smart playlists now (although I guess I need to cave in and get a Zune Pass to really get the full effect).

The best part? It doesn't keep both cores of my CPU cranked at 90% idling like the previous software.

Haven't been able to find an actual Zune HD though, there isn't a store within 10 miles of my house that even carries them. Best Buy has a ton of pamphlets for them, but no actual devices (not even a display model or price tag).




RE: Software = Big improvement
By thekdub on 9/16/2009 3:53:40 PM , Rating: 2
Just a little update, BB got their shipments in finally (just the 16GB model though) so I went to check them out.

And all I have to say is wow. I don't mean to sound like a fanboy, but I honestly believe that the only way you can not be impressed by the Zune HD is if you force yourself to think that it isn't good.

The screen on the HD is probably one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Apple's screens in their players are tops, but I'd go as far as to say that the HD's is even better. The player is very responsive and fast thanks to the Tegra chip, and the screen is very precise. I love the body of the thing too, it fits great in your hand and weighs next to nothing, yet feels very solid due to the metal body.

Not gonna write up a whole review, but my verdict? If you want a device primarily for music and videos and don't need all the bells and whistles, go try out a Zune HD. This is where it excels, and is one of the best options in this area. You want something that does everything, has a great internet browser and an app for everything you need, the iPod Touch might be a better option.


Aero snap
By Smilin on 9/15/2009 5:54:08 PM , Rating: 2
Silly trivial but I've really been looking forward to this.

I've been running Windows RTM for a few months now I guess and that has been an annoying ommission in the Zune software.




Marketplace
By sebmel on 9/16/2009 5:03:35 PM , Rating: 2
The less than slick truncated last E in Marketplace doesn't exactly make that feature look so important... now we know there's no app store coming that just confirms it.

Having said that, free games will be nice.




Games
By h0kiez on 9/15/09, Rating: -1
RE: Games
By novacthall on 9/15/2009 10:35:56 AM , Rating: 2
Have the PSP and the DS not been out for no less than 4 years at this point?


RE: Games
By h0kiez on 9/15/2009 11:45:47 AM , Rating: 2
They have, but I'm not really trying to carry around another device; hence why I'd really just prefer for them to integrate everything into a cell phone.


RE: Games
By ClownPuncher on 9/15/2009 3:38:03 PM , Rating: 1
So instead of lugging around a phone and a PSP, your solution is to lug around a cell phone that does it all and several spare batteries?


RE: Games
By clovell on 9/15/2009 11:32:14 AM , Rating: 2
Mine had Tetris and Texas Hold 'Em Poker since like the end of last year - never really looked for much else...


RE: Games
By headbox on 9/15/09, Rating: -1
RE: Games
By therealnickdanger on 9/15/2009 11:42:15 AM , Rating: 5
Why doesn't this article mention the "tech" behind the Zune HD? NVIDIA Tegra! It slices, it dices, it rawx your face off!

Another question, why isn't this thing a PHONE!?? I would buy one in a heartbeat!


RE: Games
By AEvangel on 9/15/2009 11:46:15 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
MS has done about as bad a job as possible at competing with the i-Phone, but I'm still hopeful.


I agree, the simple fact that this device is not even over 100 gigs of storage on it is appalling imho.

I would love to have a phone/portable media player/gaming device. The Zune could be it but MS seems to fail with every incarnation to do it.


RE: Games
By lightfoot on 9/15/2009 12:59:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I agree, the simple fact that this device is not even over 100 gigs of storage on it is appalling imho.

Maybe because this uses flash memory and not a hard drive? There isn't a single flash memory based player on the market with over 100 gigs of storage (to my knowledge.) And the memory alone would be prohibitively expensive even if there were.


RE: Games
By Assimilator87 on 9/15/2009 2:21:19 PM , Rating: 2
Taking this one back to the topic of games. Audiosurf + PMP = WIN!


RE: Games
By Smilin on 9/16/2009 10:52:54 AM , Rating: 2
Audio surf would rock.

I want a mp3 player for the MUSIC. That game would count as it's just an interesting way to play music.


By ussfletcher on 9/15/2009 12:22:16 PM , Rating: 2
Considering that many of my friends were showing off the games on their ipod touch/iphone the first couple days they had them, and I've never seen them do anything other than talk or listen to music with them since, that they just don't use them regularly


By mherlund on 9/15/2009 12:24:36 PM , Rating: 3
I play games all the time on my iPhone and see people playing them as well.


By rmlarsen on 9/15/2009 1:03:44 PM , Rating: 2
You're kidding, right?


By Einy0 on 9/15/2009 2:05:22 PM , Rating: 2
I see people using their iPhones to play games and non-communication apps all the time...


By 67STANG on 9/15/2009 2:25:58 PM , Rating: 3
I use my iPhone (when it works) to check email, do online banking, surf the web, make calls and check the weather. (Listed in the order of frequency).

I also use the iPod part of it on road trips when I take them. Haven't downloaded a single app or any games-- I can't spare the battery life as I have to charge the blasted thing twice a day anyhow...


By zerocool84 on 9/15/2009 3:20:52 PM , Rating: 2
Yes many people play games on their iPhone/Touch but as everyone knows 99% of the games are horrible games. Just like that comment that was made that the iPhone/Touch is better than a DS or PSP is stupid cus practically all Apple App Store games suck with the exception for a handful.


By sebmel on 9/16/2009 5:05:12 PM , Rating: 2
What's the problem with only buying the good ones?


By sebmel on 9/16/2009 5:11:44 PM , Rating: 2
Sort of like saying: The iPod's no good because most of the songs on the iTunes store are lousy.

Are you saying that amongst the 75,000 apps on the Apple app store there aren't enough good games? Maybe you're right. It's a new platform... but at over a billion downloads in just over year it's growing at a hell of a rate... as long as the hardware becomes competent enough those good games are going to appear pretty damned fast.

Fair enough, though, if you're saying they aren't there yet.


The Storage size is pathetic
By SiliconAddict on 9/15/09, Rating: -1
By mydogfarted on 9/15/2009 2:30:58 PM , Rating: 2
let's see here: more moving parts = greater risk of failure. Flash memory = zero moving parts. Not that I've had a hard drive based iPod fail, but I've had multiple laptop drives fail and we all remember just how awesome IBM's microdrives were. </sarcasm>

4GB of cache? Really? How does it determine what to load it with?

I'm willing to bet you offer someone the choice between thin and bulky with something they are going to carry with them constantly, thin is going to win out.


RE: The Storage size is pathetic
By Smilin on 9/15/2009 5:51:11 PM , Rating: 4
Your anger shows a lack of understanding.

Flash is definately the better option. The big con to flash is it's high price.

Jobs didn't start the flash trend either. Rio's used to have that.


RE: The Storage size is pathetic
By callmeroy on 9/16/2009 8:35:01 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with 'Smilin', but in addition --- what do you some of you people do with your spare time if 10,000 songs worth of storage doesn't fit your needs or your music collection size?

At least I'm assuming 32gb will fit at least 10,000 songs only because I know someone with a 32 gb Ipod Touch and he has like 9,823 songs or something like that on it.

I just don't get that -- folks complaining that they 10s of thousands of songs or dozens of movies aren't good enough to carry around.......who the hell has the time for that?

All you people do is sit around listening to music all damn day? Granted I use my classic ipod for the gym -- and I assume most folks use their music players for exercising mostly...after you are done with your work out though, you just waste your time every day listening to music all the time?


RE: The Storage size is pathetic
By MadMan007 on 9/16/2009 1:57:34 AM , Rating: 1
Can't have capacitive touch screens with a HD. But yeah more capacity would be nice you just need to be patient at this point. Capacities have consistently doubled at a given price for a number of years and although we might be getting to the point in process technology where that will slow there's still a bit of room for the trend to continue. Expect to see 128GB flash devices at $400 next year. It's too bad MS decided not to make a $400 64GB Zune.


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