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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?

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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