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The New Zunes

Can you tell us anything about the new Zune players released by Microsoft last week? I heard about their release, but I don’t really know anything else about them. Please share any information you have!

Ah yes, the new Zune! With the holidays right around the corner, it’s no surprise that several of you are asking about Microsoft’s Zune media player. The first version of Zune was released just about a year ago, but it has faced criticism all along the way. Luckily, it looks like things are about to change for Microsoft and the Zune team. Just last week (around November 14, 2007), two new Zune players were released and from all the reviews I’ve read so far, it looks as if Microsoft has finally built a pretty decent media player. Let’s check it out!

The newly released Zune players include an 80 GB Zune (retailing for $249.99) and an 8 GB flash based Zune (retailing for $199.99). Both of the players come with a nice set of new features and excellent sound quality that go beyond any standard audio or video player you may come across. Both of them set a high bar to their competition as well. For example, they come with wireless syncing and a new touchpad control that could definitely rival against the click wheel found on the Apple iPod. Along with all of that, some new features have been added to the Zune software as well and that’s where the real competition comes into play.

When the Zune software first came out, it was nothing more than a skin for Windows Media Player, version 11. But all of that has certainly changed now. The new software looks better, it has quite a few new background themes to choose from, the visual effects are much better and the new interface is just all around more attractive. And that’s not all! Some new functionality features have been added as well. For example, you can now search for your songs much faster. In any window, just type in what you’re looking for and instantly, you’ll be transported to that selection in your music library. You can even do quite a bit when your Zune player is disconnected from your computer, such as dragging new tracks to the device to be synced the next time you connect your player. Cool, huh?!

Some new features have also been added to the Zune Social (where you can converse with other Zune users about your song choices, etc). One of the most promising is called Zune Tags. If you install the new Zune software, you’ll be able to create a Zune tag, which allows you to share and collect information about your music and the music your friends are playing. It’s a lot like the gamer tags in Xbox Live, if you’re familiar with that at all. You can also browse through the tags online. For example, if you click on a user’s tag, you will see a list of their favorite songs. Or, if you click on an artist or album name, you can see which Zune Social members have that listed as one of their favorites.

With all of that, you can discover new music for yourself as well by listening to other songs that other users like. Even more, if you have a Zune Pass subscription, you can download different files to your Zune player with ease as well. The Zune Social is just one easy way you can stay connected with other Zune users and stay up to date with all the new music selections on the market today. The Zune Social has the ability to add even more features in the future, but all of this is a great beginning!

As you can see, Microsoft has made some tremendous changes to the new Zune software that will really help it in the marketplace today. All of the new online features will definitely help its success as well. Of course, with every new release, there are always some downfalls, but that just leaves room for even more improvement from Microsoft in the future. Now, if you’re interested in learning even more about the new Zune players or even just about the new software, you can check out Zune’s Web site here. Just click on the links at the top of the page to read more about each section. Tune into Zune today, my friends!

~ Erin