Microsoft squirts new Zune hardware, features


Since there’s an Apple event (read: new iPods) scheduled for later today, it’s only fitting that Microsoft dropped a Zune press release. There’s new hardware as well as additional software features involved:

  • A 16 GB flash-based player and 120 GB hard drive Zune are added to the lineup.
  • New pricing effective September 16th
    • 4 GB: $129.99
    • 8 GB: $149.99
    • 16 GB: $199.99
    • 80 GB: $229.99
    • 120 GB: $249.99
  • A "Buy from FM" feature which doesn’t exactly let you "buy from FM", but is interesting. When listening to the FM radio, you can tag a song for purchase. Next time you hit a WiFi hotspot or your home network, the song will be purchased and downloaded.
  • Personal Picks in the Zune software: a recommendation algorithm will suggest artists, tracks and albums based on music you’ve listened to.
  • Games on the Go: Hexic and Texas Hold ‘Em are included with the new software with more games to come.
  • Support for Audible books
  • Direct music purchases over WiFi. w00t!
All in all, these are some nice features that I’m sure will find an audience. Microsoft is pushing them down to older Zunes as well, which is excellent and should keep many Zune owners happy. The Zune itself isn’t a bad device or platform, but my personal frustration is that updates like this in the product life-cycle take so long to develop, test and get out the door. And relatively speaking there’s an utter lack of marketing from where I stand.
Regardless, I’ll have to wring my Zune back from my son for testing, although if he reads this post, he just might hold on to the device a little longer. He loves Hexic!