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ZuneHD?

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The Zune team has been planning on getting back into the game for a while now, and the this was only hastened after they lost market share in the holiday sales numbers.  While they created a great hard drive player, Apple became a moving target, and moved on to a multitouch screen in a wifi connected, flash based device.  Clearly the bar had been raised when the iPod Touch came to market.

Apparently, based on the pic above from the Engadget site, the new Zune will be dubbed the ZuneHD.  Look for it to feature the solitary "home button" that is prominent on an iPod Touch, and for it to debut in September.  That screen will be great when it debuts!


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No iPods at the Gates House

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Among the younger set, most think that an iPod is synonymous with an mp3 player.  You know, like Kleenex is a tissue, and a Xerox is a copy.  Chalk one up to Apple's marketing machine for pulling off that feat for a product that has only been around for several years.  How bad has it gotten?  Bill Gates has forbidden his children from acquiring a iPod product:

In the latest issue of Vogue, Bill's wife, Melinda Gates, reveals that among the "very few things" on "the banned list in our household" are—you guessed it—iPods and iPhones.

Brutal, yes—especially for Bill and Melinda's three kids (two daughters and a son, aged 12, six, and nine, respectively), who'll just have to grin and bear it as their little pals make merry with the latest and greatest iPod.

And even Melinda herself admits to an occasional pang of Apple envy: "Every now and then I look at my friends and say, 'Ooh, I wouldn't mind having that iPhone.'"

Oh, this is brutal indeed.  Apparently the kiddies do have Zunes, so all is not lost.  However, maybe Bill Gates should realize that he shouldn't need to resort to banning the competition to get his children to use his companies product.  Perhaps he should let them have it, and he would see what would make the Zune even better, or the need for a Zune Phone.  Hey, just a thought, but then again, this is nothing that a decade of psychotherapy later on won't fix...

What do you think: Father Gates knows best, or just an unreasonable control freak.


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Moving From iPod To Zune

You know the phrase "Breaking up is hard to do?"  Well, it likely applies to migrating an iTunes collection to the Zune.  Recall that if you've been an iPod user, you likely purchased some tracks from the iTunes store.  While lately they can be had in the universal mp3 format, they probably were acquired in Apple's AAC format, which will come up with an ".mp4" extension.  Unfortunately, this prevents a seamless transfer as the Zune can't play these, and there are DRM issues as well to contend with.

One possible work around has been known for some time.  The iTunes software allows you to burn tracks in the library onto a CD.  Once that is done, then it can be reripped into a more Zune friendly format.  Personally, I often rip my tracks to 160 kbps, VBR which stands for variable bit recording.  I find that this provides the best combination between file size and audio quality. 

The downside of this is that while it is fine for a CD or two worth of tracks, with a larger collection, it becomes a multiyear project.  You know, the kind of thing that gets started but never finished, and goes on just about forever- not good.  Certainly there must be an easier way...

This article goes through this challenge, and makes a software recommendation.  However, their recommended program goes for $35, which is more than some users may want to go for who don't have large collections.  Thankfully there is a freeware program to the rescue.  I can recommend Free M4a to MP3 converter.  It is quite fast, and does the job quickly without lots of bells and whistles to get in the way of efficiency.

Armed with the above info, now Zune users can dump their iTunes tracks into their Zune software with minimal effort.


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Microsoft Being Cautious with Zunes?

Been pondering why the Zune 80 is in such short supply this holiday season? It's not related to being a move to prop up the popularity of this portable media player, according to a research note from research firm iSuppli. Analyst Chris Crotty speculates it's likely because Microsoft was cautious in its approach to how many initial 80GB units it ordered for development.

“Given the widespread criticism of the first Zune model, it is likely Microsoft erred on the side of caution when placing initial orders for the new Zunes, which include the Hard-Disk-Drive (HDD) based Zune 80 as well as the flash- memory-based Zune 4 and 8,” said Crotty.

Isuppli

iSuppli, in releasing this research note, notes MSFT has been pretty non-agressive in the PMP market, given the Zune belongs to the described 'fast-growing PMP segement." The research outfit estimates "PMPs will rise from 38 percent in 2007 to 66 percent in 2011."

Crotty reasons the slow approach for Microsoft in the PMP space is several factors, including the closed operating system of the Zune, not being the market leader in PMPs and what moves Apple may be up to with its iPod line.


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The Zune had Podcast Support all Along

Zunepodcasts Even though with the announcement of the Zune software now supporting its own podcasting and that I can finally be 100% rid of iTunes, I noticed how I have yet seen anyone talk about something you could do on your Zune since day one.  Play audio/video podcasts on it.  The Zune 30 can load and play Apple iTunes video/audio podcasts.

Here's how....install iTunes (vomits a bit in his mouth) and find your podcasts for me its anything to deal with Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator.  Then download them like normal, after the files are all downloaded locate your iTunes folder.  Its generally in your My Music folder unless you changed that in the settings.  You can then locate the video and audio podcasts you just downloaded and drag them into the Zune software or you can have your Zune software auto update from that folder so is that everything your iTunes software downloads a new podcasts your Zune software will pick it up too.  Sync the files and vola you are done.

Or you can just wait until Nov 13th, 2007 when iTunes will never again be installed on my computer.


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Zune 80GB Compared with the Zune 30GB and iPod Classic

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Here’s a size comparison for the Zune 80GB, Zune 30GB and the new iPod Classic.  What do you think? A decent improvement for the Zune?

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Continue reading "Zune 80GB Compared with the Zune 30GB and iPod Classic" »


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Still in the Mood for a Pink Zune? Here’s a Limited Edition Just for You!

Zune_nylon_limited_edition_2 We’ve seen this Zune before, but we didn’t know it would become a limited edition of the Zune

Well, if you haven’t bought a Zune yet and like the pink color, you might want to rush (soon) to Urban Outfitter Stores to get one of the 1000 pink Zunes designed by Nylon Magazine. The first ones will be at NYLON’s Fashion week party tonight and the rest will be available later this month. No word on the price so far.

Ok, I get it. You’re still upset by the new iPods announced yesterday. But don’t worry for now; Microsoft has not said their last word. They’ve been working on the new Zunes longer the first generation Zune itself. They must have something interesting to offer. Right? Harvey from ‘rama has an interesting take on this.

And just like John Lennon said: "All we are saying is give peace Zune a chance"...

Interesting quote from the Zuneinsider after Apple's announcement yesterday:

"Oh, and this may come as a shock to folks, but today's Apple Computer announcement doesn't actually change any of our plans. Of course we watched with some degree of interest but our plans have been in motion for some time now.  No announcements to make other than the fact that the Zune team remains committed to building a solid experience for users."

Nice quote. No?


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New iPods: Zune Killers?

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Apple dropped a bomb in the portable media player market this afternoon. The Cupertino Company released a completely new line of iPods, including a new iPod nano, a new iPod Touch and a 160Gb iPod called the “Classic”. All those new devices also have extremely attractive prices as well. Even the iPhone gets a $200 price drop!

The iPod Touch  has a Wi-Fi connection with an embedded Safari browser and the ability to buy content online through the iTunes Wi-Fi Store. Almost even more than what we dreamed about for the Zune.

The Zune already had a tough time competing with the old iPod, it now has a even tougher enemy.  And with the iPod Touch, Apple seriously takes the lead on portable device software.

But what can Microsoft possibly do to compete with the iPod? Buy RIM? Create a Zune based on Windows Mobile? Embed the Zune in Windows Mobile to get access to all Windows Mobile phone out there?

So many questions!


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Ford Announced the Cost for Sync

Ford announced the cost for Sync communication and entertainment system develop with Microsoft that support the Zune and the iPod.

Sync allows drivers to control the communication and entertainment devices using voice recognition and steering wheel controls.

The system will cost $395 and will be available as an option on Ford Focus, Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX.
Sync will be available in nine other 2008 Ford models by the end of the year.

Are you more inclined to buy a Ford just because it has the Sync option for your Zune or iPod. What about the price? Do you think that it’s worth the 400 bucks they’re asking for it?

My own experience with buying cars tells me that you can probably negotiate this and even get it for free if you’re a good negotiator.


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The Red Zune Outsells the Pink but can’t Beat the Black

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Even though the red Zune makes a nice debut on Amazon, the black remains the number color for the Microsoft Zune. The red Zune is now sitting in second position just in front of the pink Zune. The brown and white Zunes are the least popular Zune colors. These shiny colors certainly give the Zune a big boost. If not already done, the million Zune sold target will probably be easier to reach with the pink and red Zunes.

But the black is not only popular on the Zune player. In the Amazon’s top sellers, the number one position is hold by the black 30Gb iPod video.

Four brands are seriously competing for the MP3 player market. The iPod is of course the number one player on the market followed by Sandisk, Creative Zen and Microsoft Zune. New models including a flash Zune would help Microsoft reaching at the second position.

Below is a list of the top sellers on Amazon. The ranking is updated hourly but it does not change that much from day to day.

Continue reading "The Red Zune Outsells the Pink but can’t Beat the Black" »


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