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Zune 80
Zune Pass monthly subscription service now available

Microsoft announced a new update for its Zune portable media player today that adds new software features and new content to the Zune online store. Microsoft hasn’t exactly been burning up the sales charts with its line of music players, but it hopes that steady software update will give the Zune a strong platform to work with.

The Zune video store is getting a boost with new downloads for TV shows like “South Park”, “Afro Samurai”, “Witchblade”, “The Office”, “The Hills”, “Heroes”, “Battlestar Galactica” and many more. In all, the updated store offers over 800 episodes that will each sell for 160 Microsoft Points per episode or about $1.99 at launch.

Microsoft says with the new update that its Zune Store now has more than 3.5 million tracks with two-thirds of them in MP3 format. The Zune Store still has a way to go to beat iTunes which is the largest music retailer around. Zune users have had access to a free customizable Zune Card in the past that is a sort of snapshot of their favorite tracks and other music played on their Zune.

The update makes the Zune Card more portable and allows subscribers with a Zune Pass to take a friend’s Zune Card and listen to what their friends and family like the most.

Chris Stephenson, general manager of Global Marketing for Zune at Microsoft said in a statement, “Consumers want more than the traditional transactional model of an online music store plus portable device. Zune is putting the strong combination of an online music community together with subscription to deliver a new experience centered on music discovery that’s good for consumers, artists and the industry. This approach exposes consumers to music they might not have otherwise tried, keeps them coming back, and gives them purchasing options that suit their preferences.”

Key updates to the Zune Community include the syncing of Zune Cards to a device, enhanced friends search, instant friends, album and artists reviews, reputation badges, and Windows Live connections. Key updates to the Zune device include auto playlists, browsing videos, editing album and track information, organizing collections, gapless playback, syncing groups, and Zune reminders.



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Plethora of what???
By msheredy on 5/6/2008 5:38:21 PM , Rating: 1
Did I miss something(s)?




RE: Plethora of what???
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 5/6/2008 5:46:04 PM , Rating: 5
I don't know about you, but gapless playback was one of THE most requested features for the Zune. I don't understand why they didn't include it in the first place.

It was one of the reasons why I got rid of my 30GB Zune after numerous updates for the Zune came out with no sign of gapless playback.


RE: Plethora of what???
By AlphaVirus on 5/6/2008 5:55:27 PM , Rating: 2
When I burn cds I always take out the gaps, for some reason those 2-4 seconds pause becomes an irritant.

Its like geeze! play the next song already!


RE: Plethora of what???
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 5/6/2008 5:58:05 PM , Rating: 3
It sucked bad (my Zune that is) when I was playing live albums. You'd have one song leading into another than 1-2 second pause, then the next song would begin. I absolutely hated that.


RE: Plethora of what???
By RamarC on 5/6/2008 8:23:46 PM , Rating: 3
gapless playback was the main feature thatni coveted from my wife's creative zens. i got her a 30gb xtra way back (3+ years ago) for her car. when it wigged out (cooked in the florida heat i guess) i got her a new zen and, though they screwed up the auto-mode (it used to start playing automatically when power was restored), it still had the no-gap playback between tracks. (a bunch of our music is mixes/compilations.)

i have a mazda with an mp3 deck but it takes nearly a second to start the next track. my old jvc mp3 deck did the same. and my sansa e240 has a brief gap also. my rio carbon was pretty seamless. unfortunately, my new 8gb flash based zen has just enough a delay to be noticeable (to me). i can't believe these manufacturers can't use a friggin' read-ahead buffer!

sigh... i'm still searching for the perfect player!


RE: Plethora of what???
By splint on 5/6/2008 11:34:54 PM , Rating: 1
Call me when it plays OGG and looks like a hard disk when plugged in to my PC. Till then, not interested...


RE: Plethora of what???
By lexluthermiester on 5/7/2008 12:09:03 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Call me when it plays OGG and looks like a hard disk when plugged in to my PC.


Don't you mean WORKS like a hard drive? Zune has nothing on my Zen.


RE: Plethora of what???
By Omega215D on 5/7/2008 1:04:41 AM , Rating: 2
Various players can do this and sound great compared to the iPod and Zune. iRIver, iAudio/ COWON, Creative Zen (OGG with ROCKBOX should it be finished). and I think Meizu. iAudio has some gapless playback problems but I haven't had many gaps if any when playing music on my D2.

Always goes to show that the little guys usually are better for the enthusiast.


RE: Plethora of what???
By noirsoft on 5/7/2008 10:47:15 PM , Rating: 2
No, the Zen does not have true gapless playback, nor does any other portable player that I've heard. They reduce the gap to maybe 1/10 of a second, but it's still a gap, which is annoying if the album is continuous as in the aforementioned classical, techno and also a ton of progressive rock and metal. I'd say about 50% of the albums I listen to have at least one pair of tracks that blend together, and even a fraction of a second is annoying.


RE: Plethora of what???
By lexluthermiester on 5/7/2008 12:15:39 AM , Rating: 5
Ok in a live album that might be mildly annoying, but come on, is it enough to get all bunched up over? There are better things to to complain to Microsoft about...


RE: Plethora of what???
By lexluthermiester on 5/7/08, Rating: 0
RE: Plethora of what???
By darthwhit on 5/7/2008 12:45:40 AM , Rating: 2
What about classical. The break doesn't seperate one song from another. You aren't going to a new song, you all of a sudden have a random 2 second gap within your song. I don't think that is so much to ask for since PC playback has incorporated it since, I don't know, at least as far back as 1996 with musicmatch. The same thing can be said for techno music where each track is meant to be seemless and the entire CD is essentialy one seemless track.


RE: Plethora of what???
By mikefarinha on 5/6/2008 6:20:43 PM , Rating: 4
In case you missed the 3 Amigo's reference :-)

quote:

Jefe: I have put many beautiful pinatas in the storeroom, each of them filled with little suprises.
El Guapo: Many pinatas?
Jefe: Oh yes, many!
El Guapo: Would you say I have a plethora of pinatas?
Jefe: A what?
El Guapo: A *plethora*.
Jefe: Oh yes, you have a plethora.
El Guapo: Jefe, what is a plethora?
Jefe: Why, El Guapo?
El Guapo: Well, you told me I have a plethora. And I just would like to know if you know what a plethora is. I would not like to think that a person would tell someone he has a plethora, and then find out that that person has *no idea* what it means to have a plethora.
Jefe: Forgive me, El Guapo. I know that I, Jefe, do not have your superior intellect and education. But could it be that once again, you are angry at something else, and are looking to take it out on me?


Not buying
By darkpaw on 5/6/2008 5:33:42 PM , Rating: 2
$1.99 pre episode is still insane, and I for one won't be paying to watch any TV.

I'd love to be able to download shows to watch on my way to work, but not at that price. Who in their right mind would pay that per episode for low res TV when full seasons on DVD can often be bought for $20 or less?

Why don't they just throw some commercials in and make the episodes free?

Gah, oh well. Only reason I even own a Zune is because it was impossible to beat $80 for a 30gb full video player.




RE: Not buying
By AlphaVirus on 5/6/2008 5:50:13 PM , Rating: 3
The selection available does sound good but I agree, $2 per episode is not a lot but its too much for a low res version.
Actually, I might accept the deal if they had $20 per season or similar style packages. Or "Buy all for $500".

I am not a fan of the Buy-1-watch-1 scheme, which is why I am not a big fan of iTunes.

I'd rather buy in bulk or in clusters and get some form of discount for doing such.


RE: Not buying
By aftlizard on 5/6/2008 6:38:12 PM , Rating: 2
What sucks is that I have the Zune pass and I still have to purchase them, pretty irritating. Oh well it is an mp3 player first and foremost.


RE: Not buying
By Locutus465 on 5/7/2008 1:02:54 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, they do allow you to buy in bulk though I can't say if it gets you a discount. Season 3 of BSG costs ~$38. To accomplish you click the "buy now" button above the first episode in the season, it'll have a rather large point tally.


RE: Not buying
By Locutus465 on 5/7/2008 1:05:07 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, so I did some quick math and no discount what so ever for buying a season... That kind of sucks, hopefully they'll work one in. I also want to see HD content with 5.1 surround (at least BSG is lacking here). At anyrate, I'm going to have to step on it fixing up the DRM on my desktop... That's the only thing that went awry after switching out motherboards amazingly enough.


RE: Not buying
By AlphaVirus on 5/7/2008 2:32:46 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah and thats the main thing I would like is some form of discount. I am not cheap just want to feel like I am getting a deal for buying so much of the sellers products.

Retail outlets always have buy 2 get 1 free on stuff, I want to do the same with music and video content.


RE: Not buying
By Locutus465 on 5/7/2008 11:54:54 PM , Rating: 2
No I completely understand your position and find it odd that microsoft offers no season discount. In particular since you can get these cheaper on DVD off of amazon. I certainly hope that microsoft reconsiders their position on this one, and starts offering HD content.


RE: Not buying
By jlips6 on 5/6/2008 5:51:18 PM , Rating: 3
i don't even pay 20 dollars I borrow my friends dvd sets and lend them comics as collateral/pay.


RE: Not buying
By Parhel on 5/6/2008 7:34:16 PM , Rating: 1
I don't understand why this guy got downrated? Is it now piracy to borrow a DVD from somebody?


RE: Not buying
By darkpaw on 5/6/2008 7:53:36 PM , Rating: 1
A pro piracy comment would have been rated up on DT, usually its only my anti piracy comments that get rated down at all.


RE: Not buying
By jlips6 on 5/6/2008 9:20:54 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think piracy has anything to do with this. I think I got downrated because of mob psychology. Or global warming.

Either way Over the course of the months I've been posting this is not the only -1 I have gotten. I don't sweat it. Anyone who truly complains about the rating system relies too much on the acceptance from the people on the blog. If you want to share your opinion, people can rate it how they see it. If you want to be complimented and praised then make all your posts south park references. Being rated up is fun, and being rated down is dissapointing, but beyond the "hey, I got a 4!" it's pretty much superfluous.

My favorite person on this blog has an average posting of somewhere abouts 1.7 last time I checked. For those of you who tend to skip over Jason Mick articles, I am referring of course, to Perks.


RE: Not buying
By feraltoad on 5/7/2008 1:06:55 AM , Rating: 2
It's just comic envy.


Availability
By Parhel on 5/6/2008 5:39:18 PM , Rating: 2
What's the deal with availability? I admittedly haven't been searching for one, but I have yet to come across one of the new Zunes for sale.

Newegg hasn't had any since before Christmas. The Target down the street from my house has had an empty display case since that time as well. They aren't carried at my local WalMart or Sam's Club.

Like I said, I haven't really sought one out, but I doubt they are flying off the shelves Wii style. It's hard to imagine that Microsoft is trying very hard to break into this market when there are a million iPods at every department store and you have to hunt to find a Zune.




RE: Availability
By jlips6 on 5/6/2008 5:52:37 PM , Rating: 2
now that you mention it...
I've seen a lot of posters all over when they came out, (I specifically remember them at gamestop) but I never actually saw one.


RE: Availability
By AlphaVirus on 5/6/2008 5:57:48 PM , Rating: 2
I have seen them once, when I was at WalMart. They were tucked in the far back corner with a pretty big display but behind everything else.

iPods are always front and center of every electronics section. Sansas and the others are usually positioned about 5-10ft back from the ipods.


RE: Availability
By aftlizard on 5/6/2008 6:18:44 PM , Rating: 2
My walmart(s) had them up front and center next to the crap pods and other players. I personally love my zune, far more than my burnt up ipod.


RE: Availability
By Hardin on 5/6/2008 6:27:12 PM , Rating: 2
They had them at our Walmart. That's where my brother and I got ours.


RE: Availability
By Locutus465 on 5/7/2008 1:06:27 AM , Rating: 2
have you tried walmart? I've seen plenty at the one near me in raleigh.


Marketing
By misbfa1 on 5/7/2008 10:53:20 AM , Rating: 2
I admittedly don't know much about the capabilities of the Zune, but I don't know how MS expects to expand the Zune's market share, when they do almost no marketing for it. Has anyone on here ever seen a commercial for the Zune? If I wasn't an enthusiast, I wouldn't even know the dang thing existed. In contrast to the iPod that seemingly has an ad on every major prime time show. You can't get away from their ads. I hate commercials, but I actually like the ones for the iPod. Especially the one featuring Mary J. Blige with the gold theme! It's stunning. I actually want to watch it!




RE: Marketing
By misbfa1 on 5/7/2008 11:07:46 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, and also the iPod a a plethora of accessories for it. So much support is hard to compete with.


RE: Marketing
By jabber on 5/7/2008 1:00:28 PM , Rating: 2
Not having a huge amount of accessories isnt always a problem. I've had my Zune30 about 6 months and I already have -
Zune Dock + Remote control
Spare power plug and data cable
FM Radio link
A couple of cases
AV cables, headphones etc. How many more do you need?

I live in the UK where the Zune isnt officially on sale but got all that gear easily. The limited range means that the stuff available is good quality stuff made by just a few well known brands. A lot (not all obviously) of the accessories for the iPod are cheap/expensive (delete as appropriate) derivatives of the same thing.

The Zune is a good no-nonsense piece of kit that is worth a look. Think different....go Zune.


RE: Marketing
By Locutus465 on 5/7/2008 1:14:37 PM , Rating: 2
Considering microsoft managed to make Zune one of the hottest holiday items last year I think there is room for growth despite the accessory advantage apple has currently. Frankly improvements to the service like this will only help. Microsoft has one huge advantage in that they let you redownload purchased content with out any complaints or complications, iTunes user's can't say the same thing...


wow...I"m soo excitied!
By Souka on 5/6/2008 6:09:00 PM , Rating: 1
"TV shows like “South Park”, “Afro Samurai”,"

Afro Samurai??? You mean that 4 episode TV Show...yeah, ok.




RE: wow...I"m soo excitied!
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 5/6/2008 6:21:33 PM , Rating: 4
5 episodes actually, and it's one of the best anime conversions in history (at least in my opinion). Since they're making another season with Sammy J and the RZA again -- I'm actually pretty excited about it.


RE: wow...I"m soo excitied!
By Souka on 5/7/2008 10:59:39 AM , Rating: 2
I watched the series for a 2nd time just a few months ago...great flick abeit very flat story line.

And yes... my bad... 5 episodes, not 4... don't know why I thought that.

Rent/torrent it if you haven't seen it...good stuff


By meatycheesyboy on 5/6/2008 7:25:34 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe adding things like the ability to queue up more than one album at a time and having it respect track numbers/albums, instead of just putting all the songs in the queue alphabetically. Or the ability to see what's coming up in the play queue in the main interface instead of making you go to the album art/wallpaper thingy view?




By meatycheesyboy on 5/7/2008 1:50:08 PM , Rating: 2
They actually fixed the problem with it not respecting song numbers. Thanks Microsoft, that was my biggest complaint with the software.


By Locutus465 on 5/7/2008 2:32:01 PM , Rating: 2
Beleive it or not I wish they would bring back the ability to browse the cataloge by year again... That was one of my fav things with the older zune software (and Urge), it was fun to pick a random year and see what was released.


Of all the things to not add...
By chedrz on 5/6/2008 10:50:46 PM , Rating: 2
...Why didn't Microsoft add an equalizer? That's one of the biggest complaints I've heard about the Zune: no EQ.




By Omega215D on 5/7/2008 12:48:34 AM , Rating: 2
Honestly it doesn't sound bad without one. Still could use some good low end but buying a good pair of headphones will be much better.


By wetlegs6 on 5/7/2008 2:59:03 AM , Rating: 2
They physically can't add an EQ to the new Zunes.

They spent a long time trying to minimize the length the audio signal has to travel and improve signal strength, during this they found out the DSP chip that handled EQ created a lot of noise, so they removed it.

The result is, the Zune 4/8/80 have exemplar audio quality - especially the 80 with its high quality headphones as standard - but they have no EQ ability.


Sounds addicitve...
By Diesel Donkey on 5/6/2008 7:54:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This approach exposes consumers to music they might not have otherwise tried, keeps them coming back, and gives them purchasing options that suit their preferences.


Keep an eye out for Microsoft the music dealer.




RE: Sounds addicitve...
By jlips6 on 5/6/2008 9:45:32 PM , Rating: 2
hey buddy... I got MP3's...


By SiliconAddict on 5/6/2008 10:01:14 PM , Rating: 2
It was the single biggest reason I stuck with an iPod again when I upgraded to a 160GB iPod last month. Zune's rating system sucks ass....hard.




What about games?
By zombiexl on 5/6/2008 10:09:56 PM , Rating: 2
MS has been pushing using XNA for zune games dev for a few months now. Does anyone know if this version add's game support, or if it will be a later version?




Zune in Canada
By Devo2007 on 5/6/2008 10:18:12 PM , Rating: 2
On a related note, the Zune will finally be available in Canada starting June 13th.

I do like the fact that they added gapless playback -- so many MP3 players don't offer this feature (even my Zen Vision: W doesn't have it).




Hmmm...
By Locutus465 on 5/6/2008 10:59:08 PM , Rating: 2
Well for starters anyone know why this was posted then deleted? weird, had a comment on there....

Anyway what I was saying to the original posting is One Pass isn't a new feature as far as I know... I've been using it since before the UI change. And as far as I know one pass content has always been syncable to your Zune player, I don't own one yet though.

For me, the biggest feature is the video service! I've been waiting for Microsoft to get a clue and offer a download service to your PC with content playable to your x-box. Needs work though, first of all the lack of FF ability is a bunch of suck, and HD downloads would be awesome, along with surround sound. But this is a big step in the right direction for microsoft, I think it should give them a leg up on sony.

Additionally, I actually really like the looks of Zune player in video playing mode. I don't like it for the music services, but the way it handles video is just so darn nifty.




By BladeVenom on 5/6/2008 11:34:44 PM , Rating: 2
How long before they stop supporting Zune and all you licensed content becomes worthless, like with the MSN Music.

http://www.dailytech.com/MSN+Music+Authentication+...




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