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Green Milk From The Planet Orange

Microsoft Unleashes The Details on Zune: It's Just Like The iPod, But Different


By: Spacelab Research Staff
Microsoft has announced a release date of November 14 for its new Zune media player, just in time for the holidays. They've also given us a price--$250--which will place it right alongside the iPod. Both 30 gig models (Zune and iPod) have that price, but are different in some of the features they offer. Outside of the retro brown color (in addition to white and black), this largely seems to follow an often used Microsoft strategy: for the first release mirror the competition to get things going. Then work on expanding other options.

The Zune will come preloaded with items from labels like Sub Pop, Astralwerks, Ninja Tune and V2, so you have something to geek out on when you pull it out of the box (see full list below, someone's been doing their indie homework). When you're ready to go online and get more, you'll have a few more options.

You'll be able to integrate with the new Zune online store, now being called the Zune Marketplace. You get to choose whether to buy music outright or by a subscription (a la Napster). You'll also be able to import music from iTunes. Songs will be priced at 99 cents a song if you buy them one at a time. If you buy a subsciption for a Zune Pass, you'll get access to 2 million songs for $15 a month, as long you stay subscribed.

There's a sort of untapped but already built in wireless capability... which I guess means that the hardware for that is in the player but the software or partnerships to provide that are coming later. For now you can share music wirelessly with other Zune people, and you get three listens in a three day time span. After that the file times out but you can 'flag' the file to remind yourself to go buy it later on. A Microsoft press release hints that there's more to come on the wireless front, saying "...with built-in wireless capability in each player, the future is filled with possibilities." Maybe that means internet connectivity for streaming or downloading? Time will tell.

For those of you that own a MP3 / media player and still listen to FM radio (which is not many, I'm sure), there's also an FM tuner. Maybe you could listen to NPR while thinking about how you never listen to music on FM anymore.

So it all comes down to the experience, the exchange, and how it all happens. The Zune and iPod are becoming very similiar in capabilities and I guess the choice people will make will come down to which experience you like better.


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Check out what's preloaded on Zune :
Audio Tracks
• Band of Horses, “Wicked Gil” (Sub Pop Records)
• Bitter:Sweet, “The Mating Game” (Quango Music Group)
• CSS, “Alala (Microsoft edit)” (Sub Pop Records)
• Darkel, “At The End of The Sky (edit)” (Astralwerks)
• Every Move a Picture, “Signs of Life” (V2)
• Small Sins, “Stay” (Astralwerks)
• The Adored, “Tell Me Tell Me” (V2)
• The Rakes, “Open Book” (V2)
• The Thermals, “A Pillar of Salt” (Sub Pop Records)

Music Video
• 30 Seconds to Mars, “The Kill” (Virgin Records)
• BT, “1.618” (DTS Entertainment)
• Chad VanGaalen, “Red Hot Drops” (Sub Pop Records)
• Coldcut featuring Roots Manuva, “True Skool” (Ninja Tune)
• CSS, “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above” (Sub Pop Records)
• Fruit Bats, “Live: The Wind That Blew My Heart Away” (Sub Pop Records)
• Grandaddy, “Elevate Myself” (V2)
• Hot Chip, “Over and Over” (Astralwerks Records)
• Kraak & Smaak featuring Dez., “Keep Me Home” (Quango Music Group)
• Kinski, “Live: The Snowy Parts of Scandinavia” (Sub Pop Records)
• Paul Oakenfold, “Faster Kill Pussycat (Featuring Brittany Murphy)” (Maverick Records)
• Serena-Maneesh, “Drain Cosmetics” (Playlouderecordings)

  Research Staff
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