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Official: Zune HD pre-orders begin today, available in-store on September 15

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The good news has arrived, Microsoft has officially announced the pricing and availability details for the Zune HD and it looks like that magical date will be September 15 with pre-orders beginning today.

In terms of pricing, according to the official press release, the 16GB model will be $219.99 and the 32GB model will be $289.99.

The models that will be available for the pre-order will include the black (16GB only) and the platinum (32GB only). However, after the initial launch, you will also be able to purchase either a 16GB or 32GB Zune HD at Zune Originals in a variety of five colors with the option to further customize it by adding any one of ten new engravings.

Feature wise, the press release does confirm some of the previously rumored details, but unfortunately does not offer a full spec sheet. That said, what was confirmed is that the Zune HD will feature a built-in HD Radio receiver, HD video output, a 3.3-inch OLED display with a 480 x 272 resolution, built-in Wi-Fi as well as a multi-touch capable full-screen web browser.

Getting back to those pre-orders, they will be available at Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart and the Microsoft Store. Sadly, at the time of this posting the pre-order links to Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart all linked to "sorry not available" type pages, and the Microsoft Store did not offer anything much better, but on the plus side they did have the 4 and 8GB flash Zune. I guess it looks like I will have to wait until a little later this morning to pre-order my 32GB Zune HD.

Well, it looks like the wait for information is over, now the decision is whether you will get either the black 16GB, platinum 32GB model or hold out for one of the fancier Zune Original models.

Continue on to check out the full press release...

[Zune HD via Gizmodo]

REDMOND, Wash. – Aug. 13, 2009 – Zune HD, the next generation of Microsoft Corp.'s portable digital media player, is available now for pre-order and is set to hit store shelves on Sept. 15. The player, available in 16GB and 32GB capacities, is the first touch-screen Zune and includes powerful playback technology to give you a different way to experience media on the go. Combined with unparalleled PC software and online services such as Zune Pass, Zune provides a rich and meaningful connection to music, videos, podcasts and more.

Pre-order Zune HD in 16GB Black and 32GB Platinum through http://www.zune.net/zunehd from Amazon.com, Best Buy, Walmart and Microsoft. Beginning September 15, at http://www.ZuneOriginals.net, both 16GB and 32GB capacities of Zune HD will be available in five different colors with the option to customize your player with one of 10 new engravings designed by guest artists.

WHAT: With a sleek and stylish design, Zune HD is the first to combine these features:

• Built-in HD Radio™ receiver. Allows you to listen to higher-quality sound than is available from traditional radio channels, as well as access additional programming through HD2 and HD3 multicast channels from many of your favorite local FM radio stations at no extra cost.

• HD video output capabilities. Supports HD video playback from the device through a premium HDMI A/V docking station (sold separately) directly to an HD TV in 720p, making it easy to enjoy better-than-DVD-quality video on your own big screen at home.

• OLED touch screen. Allows you to easily flip through music, movies and other content. The 3.3-inch glass screen and 16:9 widescreen format display (480x272 resolution) offer a premium viewing experience.

• Built-in Wi-Fi. Allows for browsing, streaming or downloading new music from Zune Marketplace.

• Internet browser. Full-screen Web browsing, optimized for the multi-touch screen with zoom-in and zoom-out gestures.

• Accessories, at home and on the road. Zune HD and AV Dock charges and syncs players while playing supported 720p HD videos on HDTVs. Play HD Radio, music and podcasts from your Zune HD device through your car stereo using the Zune Premium Car Pack.

WHY: Pre-order now to be one of the first to experience the new Zune HD's advanced design,innovative technology and rich multimedia capabilities powered by the NVIDIA Tegra™ chip ultra low-power HD processor.

PRICING: Zune HD 16GB: $219.99 (estimated retail price); Zune HD 32GB: $289.99 (estimated retail price)

WHEN: Pre-order starting Thursday, Aug. 13. Purchase in stores on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

WHERE ONLINE: http://www.zune.net/zunehd

WHERE IN STORE: Place a pre-order in person at Best Buy beginning August 16. If you want to sneak a peek, visit select stores in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C., areas on August 22 and 23.



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Best Buy leak reveals Zune HD pricing; 16GB for $220 and 32GB for $290

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Assuming we can believe these latest images that were leaked from an internal Best Buy inventory system then it looks like the Zune HD is going to be nicely priced. According to the images, the 16GB model is going to be retailing for $219.99 and the 32GB model will retail for $289.99.

All things considered that pricing seems pretty nice, especially when compared to the iPod touch that retails for $299 and $399 (16GB and 32GB respectively).

Finally, these images also reveal what appears to be an availability date -- September 8, 2009. Now lets just hope these details are accurate.

[via Gizmodo]

Zunehd_32gb


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Zune pass subscribers: Last day to grab your 10 free tracks

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If you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to use the 10 track credits you have from your monthly subscription. If you don’t use the credits before midnight tonight, you lose them.

I personally bought “Pink Floyd - Wish you we’re here” (5 tracks) and “Pink Floyd – Meddle” (5 of the 6 tracks). One of the best way to optimize the use of your free tracks is to find albums with a low number of tracks. This way, you can get even more than one album with your 10 track credits. Classical or jazz albums can be good choices as well. As an heritage of the vinyl LP, older music also tend to have a lower number of tracks.

What were your monthly picks? Please share your music suggestions in the comments, I will have 10 new credits to use tomorrow morning!


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All 30 GB Zunes Expired at the same time!

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Are you Zune 30GB owner? If yes, December 31st is not your lucky day. Tons of Zune owners are reporting that their Zune froze at the Zune logo screen when they turned on their device this morning.

The normal reboot trick doesn’t solve the problem and Microsoft hasn’t responded to this yet. This can’t happen at a worst time for the Zune support team, as the technical staff is probably all gone for the New year’s eve party.

We never now, if this is a date related problem(and it does look like it), January 1st might solve the problem. Can this be caused by the clock recently implemented?

Let us know if you find something to reboot the device…

UPDATE: The Zune team acknowledged the problem by posting this on Zune.net:

"Customers with 30gb Zune devices may experience issues when booting their Zune hardware.  We’re aware of the problem and are working to correct it.  Sorry for the inconvenience, and thanks for your patience!"

UPDATE 2 - "FIX IT YOURSELF": Isaac is suggesting that if you unplug the battery of the Zune, you should be able to restart the device. This should normally void your warranty, but most of the Zune 30GB out there are well over the one year warranty period. The detailed instructions are available here. I will personally wait until Microsoft provides a fix for this...


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Zune Christmas Miracle?

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With the Christmas sales still being tallied, it will be a time before we know how well this year's Zune sold.  While many of us are still rooting for the Zune, there are some factors working against it including less interest in pure players, Apple's continued dominance of this segment, and overall slowing of the economy.  On the flip side though, let's not forget that the Zune lineup, particularly it's flash offerings continue to offer good value, and overall the Zunes were the strongest players put out by Microsoft yet.

One hint that the Zune may have a had a strong showing comes from Google.  You see, all those Google searches get tabulated and analyzed.  It turns out that this past Christmas morn, search terms with the word Zune in them, including Zune.net and Zune.net/setup had an unusual spike, and even broke into the top 20 search terms, which apparently they are regularly not even in the top 100.

So, does this mean the Zune sold well, or just that lots of folks had trouble setting it up and sought assistance online?  Too early to say, but intriguing nonetheless!  I'm hoping the final sales numbers are as good as these search results might suggest...


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Zune Team Merges To Work On Phone...Possibly

Windowsmobilelogo While I haven't given up on seeing a Zune Phone at CES next month, apparently another has.  This is the on again, off again, on again, and now it's off again story that keeps going round and round.  However, now there appears to be yet another twist developing.

Clearly the Zune team is more in touch with what younger folks want in a handheld device than the Windows Mobile team.  While many of us would like to see a "True Zune Phone" that could compete with the best of anythign out there, that still does seem a longshot (at least on the "off again" days).  Be that as it may, the latest thinking is that the Zune team will simply be merged with the Windows Mobile team into one big happy family.

In my mind, it's a bit of a risk because the device that could have been may never see the light of day under this scenario.  It also means that the partners will continue to manufacture the devices in all probability.  Finally, I doubt I'll ever get to dial with my squircle.  Here's hoping the Zune Marketplace makes it into a 3G connected device!


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Get a Zune 80 for $229 and get a free 2 month Zune Pass

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Microsoft is currently running a nice special on the Zune 80. The offer is simple, if you purchase a black Zune 80 for the regular price ($229) you will be given a free two month Zune Pass. Which should be more than enough time to convince most people just how nice the Zune Pass really is. Of course, there are some catches, this offer is available through December 31, 2008 and limited to the US.

[Zune Store via ZuneBoards]


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Warriors in Pink offer limited edition Zune to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure

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Warriors in Pink have just begun offering a customized pink Zune. The limited edition Zune is a 4GB flash model with a pink front and the Warriors in Pink logo on the back side. The one drawback is that the Zune is retailing for $175, but what you get, aside from a nice pink Zune is the feeling of doing something good because the proceeds go towards the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

[Warriors in Pink]


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Zune Originals adds new artwork, online exclusive colors

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In addition to the new software and free Wi-Fi, Zune Originals has also received an little refresh with the introduction of the new Zune hardware. We have already seen the new Zune 120 and Zune 16 hit the retail stores in black, and now Zune Originals has also announced that the Zune 16 will be available in blue, red, pink and green as an online exclusive. Finally, customers will also have the option of choosing some new artwork as Zune Originals has added 14 new designs to give your Zune a little more of a personal feel.

[ZuneOriginals]


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Microsoft offering free McDonalds Wi-Fi for Zune owners

Mcdonalds_logo_250 In addition to the recently released Zune 3.0 software, Microsoft has announced that Zune owners will also be able to get free Wi-Fi at McDonalds restaurants across the US.

“Wayport is pleased to be working with Microsoft to make it easier for Zune users to access music on the go,” said Dan Lowden, vice president of business development and marketing for Wayport.

Now, assuming you have already updated to the latest software you will be able to take advantage of all the new features the next time you get that fast food craving. Which means that in addition to downloading music from the Marketplace you can also tag and purchase from the FM radio, and also take advantage of the recommendations and programming features. As of the current announcement, the wireless access is available at more than 9,800 McDonalds locations.

[Microsoft]


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