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Microsoft's PMP comes to life

Microsoft has been waiting for this moment for quite some time, and now the time has come. Apple had its day in the spotlight on Tuesday when it announced its 5.5G iPod, 2G iPod Nano and 2G iPod Shuffle, but Microsoft today is touting its new Zune Portable Media Player. What was once known as "Project Argo" now has to start the long journey uphill to take on the dominant champ Cupertino, California.

Details about the player really started coming to light last month when the Toshiba 1089 appeared on the FCC website (always a great source for upcoming products). From the documents, we gathered that Zune will feature a 30GB HDD, 802.11b/g wireless connectivity, an FM tuner, USB 2.0 interface and a massive 3" LCD screen. Microsoft confirmed all of those specifications today and disclosed a few more for good measure.

As previously discussed, the Zune will feature Zune-to-Zune music sharing which allows users to share full-length sample tracks of select songs, homemade recordings, playlists and pictures between devices. Shared songs can be listened to up to three times over the course of three days. Songs that you receive from other Zune users that you like can be flagged and later purchased from the Zune Marketplace.

Zune Marketplace is Microsoft's alternative to iTunes and is an all-in-one media player, store and album/video manager. Users can purchase songs one at a time or purchase a Zune Pass subscription and download as many songs as you choose for a flat fee.

Microsoft has also announced three new accessories that will be initially available for the Zune. They include the Zune Car Pack (FM tuner with car charger), Zune Home A/V Pack (AV output cable, dock, sync cable, AC adapter and wireless remote) and the Zune Travel Pack (earphones, dual connect remote, travel bag, sync cable and AC adapter).

Some fans of Apple’s iPod were a bit disappointed with the model range revamp. While Apple performed the usual updates such as improved battery life and brighter screens along with storage capacity bumps across the board, there wasn’t anything really there to make consumers go “WOW” – gapless playback doesn’t count.

However, Apple at least has two things going for it when comparing the 5.5G iPod to the Zune. Firstly, the $349 model features Toshiba’s new 1.8” 80GB hard drive which easily trumps the Zune’s meager 30GB unit. Secondly, Apple has popularity on its side. Even Microsoft’s J. Allard describes the iPod as "the Pong of digital music." The iPod faithful are a hard bunch to win over and Microsoft will have its hands full despite such added perks like the 3” screen and WiFi.

Microsoft still hasn’t announced pricing or availability for Zune, but we’ll keep you posted on the details.



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RE: this will be a flop!
By bigdaniel on 9/15/2006 6:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
THe iPod was really revolutionary. It does what it's supposed to do really well, BUT in addition it spawned a whole market surrounding it. We got Home Theater connection kit from several vendors, car interfaces from numerous vendors, boom box docks, accessories galores... all from numerous vendors as well as Apple.

The success of Zune will be measured there. How many vendors will be building "accessories" for it. Technically it might have a superior specification than iPod (IMO, not!), but how well can it motivate the surrounding markets.

Apple iPod was not the first media player, nor the best, but it was definitely the one that did it right. By providing entryway for other vendors (Belkin, Kensington, Bose, JBL... too numerous to name, just search for it at Amazon.com) to make money (by creating iPod compatible accessories), Apple got free advertising, and thus iPod base keep growing.


"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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