Print 32 comment(s) - last by rburnham.. on Mar 17 at 7:59 PM

Zune HD
Zune software, however, will soldier on

Is it finally game over for Microsoft's Zune hardware business? What we first came to know as the Argo media player built by Toshiba -- and available in turd brown -- has gone through several revisions over the years. The current Zune HD offers a sleek design, OLED screen, and up to 64GB of storage capacity.

However, it looks as though Microsoft just can't keep up with the likes of Apple with its iPod, or even SanDisk and Creative. Bloomberg is reporting that Microsoft is on the verge of killing off future versions of its Zune portable media players (PMPs). While new Zune hardware will no longer be produced, the Zune software bits will continue to creep into Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 devices.

This isn’t the first time that trouble has followed Microsoft’s Zune, however. Back in 2008, GameStop stopped stocking Zune players in its stores due to a lack of sales. “We have decided to exit the Zune category because it just did not have the appeal we had anticipated,” said a GameStop spokesman in May 2008. “It (also) did not fit with our product mix.” 

With Microsoft’s share of the smartphone market down just a few months after the launch of its innovative Windows Phone 7 operating system, the boys from Redmond need to be focusing their energies on this highly lucrative segment of the market instead of its failed efforts in the dedicated PMP market. 

Apple’s range of iPod players command 77 percent of the market according to NPD.

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RE: Kind of sad.
By Samus on 3/14/2011 10:17:36 PM , Rating: 1
I wouldn't attack Apple's hardware for sound quality, as it is generally pretty good. They are a company that focuses on audio and visual quality, which is why they've integrated speakers into every Mac produced and always have excellent monitors, usually PVA or IPS panels.

What's worth attacking is AAC: a shit format compared to WMA or MP3. However, the Zune hardware really shines with lossless WMA where Apple being Apple just supported AAC and unhappily MP3/M4A. iTunes was always happy to convert your MP3's to the inferior, DRM-happy AAC, though.

Official Zune HD support:

• .wma (pro, standard, lossless, etc)
• .wmv (7, 8, 9, 9HD)
• .aac (unprotected)
• .mp3
• .jpg
• .mp4 (all mpeg4 varieties)
• .m4v
• .m4a
• .m4b
• .mov
• .avi (DivX)

Un-official Zune HD support via plugin:

• .mkv (any h264/x264 in container)
• .asf
• .flac
• .atrac
• .ogg
• .AIFF (ironically, even Apple no longer supports this)

iPod (Touch) support:

• .aac (protected/unprotected)
• .mp3
• .mp4
• .jpg
• .mp4
• .m4a
• .m4v
• .mov

RE: Kind of sad.
By Totally on 3/14/2011 10:44:38 PM , Rating: 2
He wasn't saying the apple's sound was bad, he's saying Zune's quality is better

RE: Kind of sad.
By Alexvrb on 3/14/2011 11:11:32 PM , Rating: 2
Then I'll say it: iPods have inferior sound quality compared to just about any similarly-priced PMP. Although I am told that installing Rockbox on an iPod improves sound quality, so it might not be entirely hardware.

That doesn't even count the aforementioned WMA lossless support, which is bitchin' if you really want true CD quality audio, and you've got your Zune hooked up to a nice system.

The Zune hardware had a lot of cool stuff, but the most important thing is the Zune pass. Since you can use the Zune pass on other devices, I don't think it will matter too much.

RE: Kind of sad.
By KoolAidMan1 on 3/14/2011 11:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
Completely incorrect. Given the same bitrate, AAC (which is the audio component of mpeg4) is of a higher quality than mp3. It is a much newer and more efficient codec, mp3 having been released in 1993 and mp4 having been released in 1997. Saying that mp3 is better than AAC at the same bitrate is like saying that mpeg2 is superior to h.264: wrong.

Also, M4A is the same codec as AAC, just with a different filename extension at the end.

RE: Kind of sad.
By Flunk on 3/14/2011 11:24:38 PM , Rating: 3
AAC doesn't have any DRM natively, Apple wraps them in a DRM wrapper. MP3 is an older and less complex codec than AAC, which is very similar to the current WMA standard .

I'm no Apple fan but there is no reason to fly off the handle at AAC (which is part of the MPEG 4 standard), which is quite a good codec.

RE: Kind of sad.
By vision33r on 3/15/2011 10:35:11 AM , Rating: 2
Lol, if you think AAC is an Apple proprietary format your entire post is irrelevant.

AAC VBR 256mb/s > 320mb/s MP3

Faster decoding and less space than MP3.

That's what gets me about people who don't like or understand Apple, they don't have their facts right.

The Zune is a good product no doubt but Microsoft is just terrible these days under Ballmer. No clear vision.

RE: Kind of sad.
By Samus on 3/15/2011 11:24:47 AM , Rating: 2
What I was talking about specifically is the crap you download from iTunes, usually 96k-128k protected AAC.

That is completely unacceptable for 99 cents. But you can always pay more for 192k. lol

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