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All posts tagged "hardware"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Zune Originals Catalina Estrada ZODIAC Series in Pictures

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 04:41 PM

OK Zune fans, I scored images of all of the new Zune Originals designs that were announced today. If a picture is worth a thousand words, boy, do you guys have a lot of reading to do!

Oh, and if your a Pisces, you might not want to go outside...ever. The image I was sent was corrupt and wouldn't open. Uh-oh! The rest of the series is after the break. Read more...

OK, There Are Actually 46 New Zune Originals Designs

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 03:53 PM


"In addition to the new Artist Series designs, Zune Originals is also introducing the Zodiac Series, its first themed collection of designs that features 12 Eastern (Chinese) astrology signs created by Iosefatu Sua, a recognized Seattle artist and member of the Zune internal design team who creates street art with a Polynesian flair, and 12 Western astrology signs created by Catalina Estrada, a Colombian artist best known for her use of symmetrical patterns and vibrant colors."

Oh you crazy Zune PR team, tricking the world into thinking there were only six new Zune Originals coming, and really it's 46! The above screen shot was taken from the Canadian Zune Originals site, so it looks like all the designs are available on both sites. Some of the new designs are fantastic, like the dragon one above - and there's a sweet design called KobraKai that will please any snake-lover. Nice stuff!

Gears of War 2 Zune Unboxing Photos

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 03:00 PM


"With Gears of War 2 getting ready to drop tomorrow, bringing Submergence Day to all fans of the franchise, Microsoft is also releasing a Gears of War 2 Limited Edition Zune. You might remember that they did something similar with the original Zune to coincide with the release of Halo 3. With the GOW2 Zune, Microsoft has pre-loaded a bunch of Gears content on the device itself. A bunch of images of art, the entire Gears of War soundtrack, along with quite a few pieces of video content related to both Gears of War and Gears of War 2."

Andru Edwards got his hands on the Gears of War 2 Zune, and has taken some photos of the unboxing experience. What a great looking Zune...hot damn!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Zune Originals Come-a-Rockin'

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 01:54 PM


UGO published some news today about six new Zune originals designs that are coming to the Zune Originals Web site. I'm not sure if they'll be up on the Canadian version of the Zune Originals site - I like quite a few of these designs! Check 'em all out after the break.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Scott Jordan Signature System: How Geek Can Meet Chic

Posted by Jon Westfall in "Pocket PC Hardware" @ 09:00 AM


Product Category: Clothing
Manufacturer: SCOTTEVEST
Where to Buy: SeV Store
Price: $340 USD ($250 for Quantum Jacket; $140 for Fleece 5.0)
System Requirements: Body ranging from XS to XXXL Sizes
Specifications: 52 pockets, cable management through channels / pocket passthroughs, removable hood (Quantum Jacket), removable sleeves (Fleece 5.0), various specially designed features such as key holders, bottle holders, and pockets accessible from the interior or exterior.


  • Be an unabashed geek without having to look like a nerd;
  • Attention to detail and usability;
  • Eliminates the need for a separate bag (some days).


  • Price (for some), Sizes (for others);
  • Does not connect (as in previous SCOTTEVEST systems);
  • Lack of color options.

The first SCOTTEVEST product I ever purchased was the 4.0 Tactical system, the closest thing to a predecessor to the Scott Jordan Signature Series. I was blown away and since then have reviewed many other SeV products. The direction foreshadowed by last year's "Evolution" jacket has now come to pass with the release of the Fleece 5.0 and Quantum Jackets (together they make up the series). But with any new thing, old favorite features can be lost or changed - and new features added can somewhat make you forget about the old. How does this system stack up to its past, and pave the way to the future? Read on!


Monday, October 6, 2008

Inspiretech Zune 3 in 1 Charger Kit

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Accessories" @ 08:49 AM


I've never heard of InspireTech, but they have some Zune products that you might be interested in; first, they have the 3 in 1 Charger Kit pictured above - but it's clearly three different products in three different boxes, so it doesn't fit my definition of "3 in 1". Regardless, the whole thing is only $15.99, so it's an affordable day to get your Zune charged at home or in your car. It doesn't look like the prongs in the wall charger fold down for easier transport though, so that's something to be aware of. Inspiretech has an assortment of Zune 4/8/16 accessories, and all those accessories will also work with the Zune 80, Zune 120, and the Zune 30. I'm pleased that Microsoft has kept the connector the same throughout all the models - it sure makes things easier!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Repeat After Me: There Is No Purple Zune

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 11:48 AM


I've had a few people contact us about this, so I figured I'd better post on it: the image below (blown up for easier viewing) is from the Canadian Zune site, and it clearly shows a Zune that's wrapped in a colour that we haven't seen before: purple.

Is there really a purple Zune coming out? I say no, probably not - if you look at the image, you can tell that it's been digitally inserted - the reflections and the lighting are wrong. I think this is just another case of a graphic designer getting creative and the Zune Canada people not noticing it. So I say there is no purplse Zune. What do you say?

Friday, May 9, 2008

On10 Takes a Look at the Zune Guts

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 01:30 PM


"At Zune Blogger Day today we got an inside peek inside the Zune and I mean an inside peek. We were there to celebrate the Zune Spring Update Version 2.5 but the Zune team got a bit creative and threw us a few other tidbits.
Here's a look at all things "inner" Zune."

Channel 10 has, sadly, gone over to an all-Silverlight video embedding approach, so I can't embed the video (there's just not enough people with Silverlight out there yet). Here's a direct link to a high-quality WMV version of the video.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tip: Use Zune80 with Gen1 Dock

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Accessories" @ 03:30 PM


One of the major selling points of the first generation Home A/V pack was (like the rest of the Zune line) its future-proof ability to work with current and expected products. One way in which this was accomplished was through a removable plastic insert that would correctly size the Zune holding area to your particular model. The second generation followed up on this idea, featuring three sizes of removable inserts (see video) and a sliding dock connector to fit all of the current models.

If you still have a first generation dock or don't feel like shelling out the cash for the whole new system (you can find them for cheap all over the web—I got mine from eBay last February for $40), you can easily "upgrade" it to work with a second gen Zune. Just grab a long, flat object like a butter knife or screwdriver and insert it into the slot at the back of the remote well. Pry until the entire top piece comes off. Be warned that there is a glue between the top piece and the dock, so it might be a little sticky.

I'm not sure if this works with 4s or 8s, but you can give it a try and see!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Windows Vista Hardware from AMD & Microsoft: Here’s My Story

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Thoughts Media Off Topic" @ 02:15 PM


"There’s a big blow-up about Microsoft “bribing” bloggers, so I figured I’d better get on the record now before someone accuses me of “hiding” something. On the 22nd of December I made a comment on my blog about receiving a new piece of hardware, but I mentioned that I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to talk about it yet - because the hardware wasn’t released yet and not up on the OEMs Web site for sale. Obviously now that this story has gone public, I can, so here’s the story."

This isn't exactly on-topic for Zune Thoughts, but I felt that the issue was important enough (since it involves my personal integrity) that I should step up and make sure everyone knows the history of this issue and my stance on it. It's a very long post (I started working on it yesterday), but I think it covers everything about this issue. Comments here (or there) are welcome.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Engineer's Take on Zune Hardware

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Hardware" @ 11:00 AM


"...I sat down with a key member of my product review team (my wife) to compare it against my (also white) 30 GByte iPod with Video. Contrasting Zune and the iPod from my engineering mindset, supplemented by my spouse's consumer slant, has been an interesting experience. As usual, there are no absolute winners and losers here; just reasonable cost, feature and form factor trade-offs..."

This is a very interesting and well thought out review from Brian Dipert, who eyes the Zune hardware from an engineering perspective. The review is very balanced and does a nice job of comparing Zune to the closest iPod model, the 30GB iPod Video. (Unlike those who insist on comparing Zune to the shuffle or Nano.) As Brian points out, there is no clear-cut winner; both units having advantages and disadvantages. Brian does a nice job of voicing some my same opinions concerning the hardware. Yes the Zune is larger than the iPod, but it's hardly as gigantic as much of the media would have you believe. Yes, the Zune specs plainly state that it weighs slightly more, but it honestly feels lighter than the 30GB iPod Video, which I too own. In addition to his nice review of the Zune hardware, Brian also touches on some of Zune's potential, the DRM debate, and the controversial pay-per-player agreement with Universal. This review, which comes in three parts, is well worth the read:

Welcome To The Social
A Sufficient Hardware Foundation For Future Firmware Perfection?
DRMs and CLMs

Tags: hardware, review

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Gear Live Dissects The Zune, Saves Me $249

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 07:00 PM


"So we have been playing around with a couple of Zune’s here at Gear Live HQ for a little bit, and decided that we would give you all a peek at the innards of Microsoft’s soon-to-launch digital media player. Jump on over to our Zune Dissection Gallery to get a glimpse of each and every piece that is inside the device that you will all be wanting come November 14. We snapped over 40 images of the take-apart process, so we hope you enjoy it. No worries, the Zune wasn’t harmed in the least, and is now back together, fully functional."

Well, it looks like the folks over at GearLive saved me $250. Why you might ask? Well, I was going to purchase an extra Zune, crack it open, and post the first Zune dissection story online. And they beat me to it. Damn. Well, looking on the bright side, at least I won't have to do this now. I have an idea I may try to implement if I'm feeling brave though, so who knows, I may end up cracking one open yet. I'll have to watch their video first to make sure I can re-assemble it afterwards.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Microsoft and Their History of Hardware Design

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 06:22 AM

In the lead up to the official Zune launch, there's been much discussion around Microsoft's history of hardware design, and how some feel they don't have any experience designing hardware. I disagree with that, and here's why: compared to their ventures in the world of software, Microsoft has had relatively few hardware products, but for the most part they've all been quite impressively designed. A quick breakdown off the top of my head:

  • Microsoft Keyboard and Mice: I don't know the market share numbers, but the market is essentially ruled by Microsoft and Logitech. I'd say that Microsoft's designs are strong, and I've been pleased with many Microsoft keyboards over the years. Lately I've switched to Logitech because they seem to have more robust wireless connections, but I still recommend Microsoft wireless products to those with a single PC and single mouse/keyboard. Microsoft keyboards and mice are quick and easy to set up - great out of box consumer experience.

  • Microsoft Networking Products: After using D-Link, Linksys, and other mainstream networking vendors products for years, my first Microsoft networking product was a breath of fresh air. I've owned an MN-500 (802.11b wireless router), an MN-700 (802.11g), and several of their Ethernet hubs. All were superbly designed from a hardware point of view: they looked great, had excellent functionality, and the out of box setup experience was light years beyond what any other vendor was offering. Netgear is the only other networking vendor that comes close in out of box experience. Microsoft is no longer making their networking products, but that doesn't diminish the quality one bit.
  • Webcams: This is a brand-new hardware realm for Microsoft, and not having used one of their products yet, I don't have much to say. The reviews I've read say that their Webcams are functional enough, though apparently they don't reach the same overall quality levels as Logitech. First gen product blues? Perhaps. I'd say too early to call them a failure though. The design of the cameras themselves look strong, and I'm sure the out of box experience is solid.

  • Xbox and Xbox 360: Although the Japanese market may not have dug it, everyone I knew liked the way the original Xbox looked - like a muscle car. More than the hardware design itself though, the overall Xbox experience was one of quality. The controllers felt good, the software dashboard was well-designed. and the original Xbox was a solid product that made decent inroads against much more established competition. The Xbox 360 was a huge leap ahead in the design department, both from a hardware and software point of view. The dashboard user interface is fantastic, the functionality of the hardware is excellent, and the out of box end user experience was very high-quality: everything from the packaging to the instructions were top-tier.
  • Cordless Phones: Does anyone else remember the MP-900, Microsoft's entry into the cordless phone market in 1999? I bought one, and believe it or not, it was damn impressive! The hardware itself was fantastic; much higher quality overall than similar cordless phones at the time, and no product on the market could match the functionality. After installing the software on your PC, and connecting the phone to your computer (via a serial port I believe), you could use voice activation on the phone to cay "Call John" and the PC would initiate a call from your address book and hand it off to the phone. The product mustn't have sold very well though, because Microsoft never released a newer version, of even any drivers for Windows 98.
  • Gaming Products: Microsoft has released a variety of joysticks, game pads, and other gaming products over the years. I owned several iterations of the Sidewinder joystick back in the day, and all were excellently designed and executed upon - I had zero complaints about the hardware design or functionality.
  • Other Products: Looking through the Microsoft Hardware Site, there are a smattering of other products, including a wireless "clicker" for presentations, but I haven't used their other products. I can't recall having read a negative review about any of the remaining products though.
  • Concept Designs: I've seen PDA and phone concept designs, from in-house Microsoft design teams, that would make your jaw drop. I can't say much do to NDAs, but it's very clear to me that Microsoft employs people that really care about hardware design. For the launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft has created a hardware design guide for OEMs to use if they wish. Microsoft knows that hardware design matters just as much as software design. We no longer live in the era of the bland beige box - design matters.
So what's my point here? I believe that Microsoft has a better track record with their in-house hardware designs than most people would care to admit. This gives me hope that the Zune effort as a whole will be guided by some of these same principles that previous hardware designs have tapped into. That hope is bolstered by the fact that the Zune team is made up of some ex-Xbox 360 team members; one would hope they'd bring much of the same design ethos that guided the Xbox 360 into the Zune project.

My enthusiasm was tempered somewhat when I read that Toshiba was manufacturing the Zune for Microsoft - I wouldn't say that Toshiba has the most impressive hardware designs I've ever seen, though their laptops have certainly improved in the past couple of years. I don't know how much input the Zune team had over the design, but we can hope they did. The FCC pictures we've seen of the first Zune haven't been very impressive - I'm concerned about the thickness of the unit - but I've yet to see any product look impressive in FCC pictures. Later today there should be some significant Zune news, so the shroud of mystery will be lifted - at least a little.

Friday, August 25, 2006

FCC Zune User Manual

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 11:02 AM

I've grabbed the Zune user manual from the FCC site and have dug into it a little to learn more about Zune. Below are some of the key points from the user manual, but you can check it out for yourself as well.
  • Clearly, this is a very rough, spartan user manual. It doesn't need to be pretty to meet FCC approval, it just needs to have the basics.
  • The hard drive used is a 1.8 inch, 30 GB model, made by Toshiba
  • The device will support USB 2.0
  • FM tuner with RDBS support (that has some cool possibilities if your local radio stations use it)
  • WiFi support is both B and G, for up to 54 mbps theoretical speed
  • Lithium Ion battery, no mention of exact mAH capacity
  • It looks like it will come with USB charging only - that seems odd, but the user manual suggests the out of box experience is to connect the Zune to your computer USB port and let it charge for about two hours
  • It mentions www.pyxis.com, but I somehow doubt Microsoft is partnered with Cardinal health - that's the code name. They should have just used foo.com in the manual
  • The unit is turned off and on by pressing and holding the Play/Pause button for three seconds (better than having a dedicated button)
  • Volume is controlled via the control pad, not a dial
  • Skip Back/Forward is accomplished using the right/left on the control pad
  • Moving upwards to the previous menu is accomplished using the Back button, just like on the Portable Media Center units (such as the Toshiba Gigabeat S)
  • You can return to the home screen quickly by pressing and holding the back button
  • Resetting (rebooting) the Zune is accomplished by pressing and holding both the Back and Play/Pause button for three seconds. No more hunting for a paperclip to poke in a tiny hole!
  • Lock/Unlock is accomplished via a hardware switch
That's it for the hardware part of the manual - next up, we'll dig into the "wireless DJ" functionality.

Tags: hardware, fcc, pdf, manual

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What is the Zune?

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 10:51 AM

One of our readers kindly informed us that in the excitement of the launch of Zune Thoughts, we failed to mention what the Zune was, and so he had to perform a quick web search to find out more. Not too surprising, really. There hasn't been much Zune-related publicity in print and visual media, and most of the buzz surrounding the product has been generated from blogs, internet news sites, and teaser pages. Over the days, weeks, and months, we'll be revealing the Zune slowly and steadily, similar to the peeling of the layers of an onion (without the pungent smell, of course). To kick things off, this post will give a quick "5W" analysis of the Zune. For those of you who have been tracking past and present Zune-related news, you won't find anything new here. This post scrapes the surface of the Zune, and serves to provide a basic overview of what the Zune is and what it has to offer.

What: Zune is a collective term describing the hardware, software, and services behind a new Microsoft-driven portable digital entertainment experience. All three components will be heavily tied together, much like the successful Xbox and Xbox Live model. Unlike other digital audio players driven by Microsoft technologies, the Zune will be unique in that everything will be born and bred within Microsoft, without the interference of OEM partners.

Who: As you've probably worked out, Microsoft is the company behind the Zune. Digging deeper, some of the folk behind the Xbox 360 are the brains behind it all.

When: The Zune isn't a Microsoft project lasting several months. While the first-generation Zune device is expected in the fourth quarter of 2006, the project will continue for many years as successive models are released with new features enhancing the overall integrated experience.

Where: The Zune will initially launch in the United States. By the end of 2007, the product line will expand and be made available in multiple countries.

Why: Microsoft's plan to rejuvenate its presence in the portable digital entertainment market isn't simply about replicating the functions of other digital audio players. The company plans to go the extra mile by tapping into this core theme of "community and discovery", which it knows a lot about, thanks to the successful Xbox model. Visiting an online media store won't just be about purchasing the media, but rather, an additional opportunity to share media (both purchased and user-created), share experiences, and so on. And then in the bigger picture, extending and integrating that Zune experience with other Microsoft products such as Media Center, Windows Mobile, Windows Live, Xbox 360, Xbox Live, and the list continues. Many have argued that the Zune is simply an iPod clone, but based on the hints that Microsoft has dropped over the past couple of months, it's a lot more than just a clone, and as we approach Christmas, we'll start to see the Zune take shape and its features become clearer.

Want to see Microsoft's official teaser page? Visit Coming Zune.

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