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All posts tagged "hardware"


Monday, December 14, 2009

The SHURE Headphones Contest Closes Tomorrow

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Events" @ 05:00 PM

This is a quick reminder that our giveaway of three pairs of SHURE SE210 headphones ends on the 15th of this month, so if you haven't already entered, you'd better do so quickly!


Mobilitysite Reviews Altec Lansing iM414v2

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 04:03 PM

http://www.mobilitysite.com/2009/12...v2-for-zune-hd/

"For comparisons sake, they were producing clearer sound, with much heavier base than the previously reviewed Ihome Alarm Clock / Speakers (which also fit the 100$ price point). Built in are options for Surround Sound effect, and Bass Boost. Both are nice additions, but it was the Base Boost I found most noticeable, and impressive considering the speakers don’t have a sub-woofer. For it’s size, it could certainly get loud and had the ability to “fill a room with sound” as advertised."

As I mentioned last week, Altec Lansing has released its new iM414v2 speaker dock for the Zune line. My only concern at the time was that the previous version of the dock I had used with my Zune 80 had produced less-than-impressive results and that didn't make me very excited about the new dock they have.

Well, Mobilitysite did a review of the new dock and as you can see from the above quote, they were pretty pleased with the sound! Check out their full review for more information but it looks like that Altec Lansing has delivered a quality product judging by the review. I'm glad to find out that the dock is better than I expected because the Zune needs all the peripherals it can get!

If you want to get one, you can pre-order it for $99.95.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Music Dock From Altec Lansing!

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune Accessories" @ 08:43 PM

"Today, Altec Lansing introduced the latest member of its inMotion line of music docks -- the inMotion® iM414V2. The inMotion iM414V2 is designed for the Zune HD and Zune in addition to any devices with a 3.5mm headphone jack including CD, DVD and MP3 players. Packed with features including a built-in FM radio, HD Radio technology and an easy to carry design, the iM414V2 is a perfect companion for music on the go."

Well this seems like a pretty nice speaker dock from Altec Lansing. The name, iM414V2, really rolls off the tongue too! It appears to be a pretty straight forward dock. It's advertised to fill the room with sound and bass without a subwoofer. I have to say I tried one of their docks before and I was underwhelmed by the sound it produced. It was suitable for your desk at work if you have an office but definitely didn't impress me as I washed my car to it!

This is a newer dock and Altec Lansing generally makes good sound equipment. It's not inexpensive at $99.99 but its also not out of line with similar products. So if you're looking for a gift idea for your Zune this holiday season, the iM414V2 could be the one! Just make sure you write it out in big letters and numbers so people have some idea what you're asking for.

Check out the full press release here.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kicker's Two New Speaker Docks

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 11:57 AM

http://astore.amazon.com/zunethough...tail/B002RWJHFI

"While browsing Amazon I noticed a new Kicker Dock I had not seen before. I jumped over to Kicker’s website to get the full details. It looks like Kicker has two new speaker systems designed to be compatible with the Zune HD. Depending on what you are looking for, both look like great alternatives to the ZK500; which is also compatible with the Zune HD."

Wow, these looks pretty amazing! Neville at Inside the Circle spotted a couple new Zune speaker docks coming from Kicker. You have two options. There's the ZK350 which is basically a portable boom box and the ZK150 which is a radio alarm clock. The ZK150 is especially intriguing because there is a dearth of good radio alarm docks for the Zune. Both of these docks are compatible with all Zune models which is a smart move Kicker's part!

They're a bit pricey as the ZK350 will be retailing at $199.95 and the ZK150 will be $179.95. The alarm dock is especially expensive for an alarm clock. But then again a good alarm clock could be pretty important to people (I know it is for me!). Style-wise I think these are also much nicer looking than the ZK500 that's been out for a while.

Jason already reviewed the ZK500 a couple months back and while these are obviously different you can at least get a feel for what Kicker makes. The ZK350 isn't available in Amazon yet but the ZK150 can be pre-ordered here.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Microsoft's Fall Lineup & Strategy Showed Off At Manhattan Open House

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Digital Home Events" @ 09:40 PM

Microsoft's "Open House" party at the Armory in uptown Manhattan last week was meant to serve as a "coming out" of sorts. The Microsoft brand for the first time in a while seems to be regaining ground lost after high-profile marketing failures like Windows Vista and lackluster mobile device sales. Now, Windows 7 is getting rave reviews even ahead of its release, Zune HD is a critic's darling, and the Xbox 360 is selling like never before. While these individual products have gained success on their own, they have so far failed to lift Microsoft to the same level of brand unity that competitors like Apple and Google have enjoyed. The event therefore was intended to show the connection between their many interests and reinforce Microsoft's commitment to its "three screens and the cloud" strategy. Did it succeed? Well, yes and no.

Read more...


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Broken Zune 80 Given New Life With 32 GB SSD

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 09:55 PM

http://www.andrewnprice.com/content...-zune-under-130

"Now there is no way I was going to pay $300 dollars for a MP3 player. You can get a netbook or an older laptop for that kind of money, and that to me is ridiculous. There is also no way that I could go back to anything less than 30Gb, (Which is what my previous H300 had) and well there was no way I was going to pay good money for a lumpy brown Zune. So that meant I was looking for a 2nd gen 80Gb Zune in black as a base. I knew to get the price point I wanted I would need to find a Zune that had "issues" and rehabilitate it, so it could return to normal life among the other Zunes in the "social". Since I knew I was going to replace the Zune's original drive, I simply searched around for a seller that was getting rid of a black 80Gb Zune, that was displaying error code 5 on boot. (Error 5 is Microsoft's way of telling you that your hard drive's cheese had slid off its respective cracker.)"

Now, I'm not sure your only option to get a Zune under $300 is to go out and get an SSD for a broken Zune 80, but it's certainly cool that this is even possible. If you were ever curious about the feasibility of using an SSD with your dying or dead Zune, Andrew's story is a worthwhile read. I was wondering how he managed to strip out a full-sized drive into such a small enclosure, and true to form, he didn't disappoint. Now all we need to find out is the speed/battery benefits to see how practical a mod like this actually is.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

How Will Zune Evolve?

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 07:00 AM

"Microsoft is considering whether it should port the Zune software and services to other platforms, including Apple’s. There’s no guarantee that the Redmondians will end up doing this - or timetable as to when this could happen - but it’s one of many strategies under active consideration. That’s what I heard today from Jose Pinero, Director of Communications for Microsoft’s TV, Video and Music Business. I had a chance to chat with Pinero at Microsoft’s consumer open-house showcase in New York on October 6."

Going along with the news of a definite Microsoft commitment to putting the Zune platform on Windows phones, this article at ZDNet is even more interesting. Microsoft would be willing, going forward to support other platforms, including Apple. What exactly does that mean? Just Zune software on the Mac? Apparently not! Microsoft even is thinking in terms of direct iPod support. Now I don't know if that's realistic or not but its something they have on the table.

The bigger picture you get from this article is Microsoft's view of what the Zune platform is to their business. Zune has always been somewhat strange for Microsoft. They tend to build ecosystems for others to play in. Even the XBox follows that mold since a game system, by default, needs broad support from game publishers to survive and thrive. The Zune though has been Microsoft's closed platform. Microsoft controls the entire experience from end to end.

But that's not how they view the Zune platform internally, according to this article. Zune is viewed as their media platform for their entire product line. They're not talking about the players either. They're talking about the whole Zune experience. Could this mean Microsoft eventually licensing out the mobile platform? After Plays For Sure I'm not sure how many would jump on that.

It will be interesting to see where it goes. With the Zune set to make an appearance eventually on Windows phones, that will certainly give an instantly broader market and really that would be the first real challenge to iPod/iPhone dominance because that platform is widespread enough to compete already. Many people are happy to carry one device around and I could see that more than anything causing some erosion in the DMP market.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Vaja Release Zune HD Case

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 08:30 AM

http://www.vajachoice.com/id/flash_...goProd=bms041hk

Vaja is well known for the luxurious leather cases for pretty much any personal electronic device that you can think of. Therefore it should come as no surprise that they’ve released a leather case for the Zune HD. The price is actually very reasonable for a Vaja case, starting at only $50 and I’m sure the leather quality is top notch. However, I do have a couple of concerns.

The first is a minor quibble but, all the same, I am not very impressed by their leather color selection. The colors they have are rather dull and the number of options is tiny compared to what I’m used to seeing with Vaja.

The other issue that is more troubling comes from my experience with the case I have for my Zune 80. This is a common issue with cases I’ve seen in general but the Zune 80 case has a clear plastic shield to protect the screen. Unfortunately over the course of the past year, the protector has become so scratched that it renders the case difficult to use since it also serves as a stand to watch video. Not to mention it looks horrible.

And this isn’t scratching from harsh objects. It’s just putting it in and out of my pocket. I assure you that my Zune’s screen would not be the least bit scratched from that if I chose not to use the case (which I have done now.)


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Zune HD Originals Starting to Arrive

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 04:11 PM

http://www.anythingbutipod.com/arch...re-arriving.php

"FedEx is starting to drop off the long awaited (read: delayed) customized Zune Originals direct from Microsoft's factories in China. Those who ordered a Zune Original as an express order got a little treat for their patience in putting up with the delay- $15 credit to be spent in the Zune Marketplace."

Finally, someone with some photography skills gets their hands on a Zune Originals device! You can always count on Grahm Skee from anythingbutipod to know how to take a good picture. Check out the gallery for all the pics - it's amazing how the blue looks so different depending on the angle. I haven't ordered a Zune Originals yet because I'm worried I won't like the colours...I know I already don't like any of the art designs. Honestly, I'm pretty disappointed with the Originals this time around - I can't understand why the Zune team would change what was such a successful collection of colours and designs from last time. I think I'm going to stick with the 16 GB black Zune HD for now and wait for a 64 GB model in better colours and designs. I know, it might be a long wait...


The Secret Life of Nicholas Deleon

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 09:30 AM

http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/09/1...-what-the-heck/

"I can live in Mac completely as I normally do, making zero concessions or compromises, then boot into Windows occasionally to sync my music to the Zune HD. I don’t have two separate music libraries or anything, but rather the master Mac iTunes library, then the Zune software builds an index and syncs the music to the Zune HD based on said library. Is it an elegant solution? Maybe not, but it definitely works and is dead simple."

Nicholas Deleon over at CrunchGear has an interesting writeup about his double life as a Mac user and Zune HD fan. Its an interesting perspective from someone who doesn't really use Microsoft products except when he has to. To use his Zune he manages all of his music on his Mac with iTunes and then boots into Windows when he wants to sync. This works for him I think since he's not a subscription user and doesn't add music too often. That said, he must really like the Zune HD because that's a lot of work to use an media player!

Interestingly, he seems to like the Zune software more than iTunes but knows he won't likely be using it anytime soon on the Mac OS. If you're a Mac user and the Zune is at all interesting to you, his article is worth a read!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Zune HD Screen Not Responsive

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 08:00 AM

http://forums.zune.net/0/1/524190/S...ost.aspx#524190

“Preordered a Zune 32 GB, it arrived on the 17th and have been using it for two days now. The touch screen is not responding, and there are random clicks despite the fact that i'm not even touching the screen sometimes. It has been updated to the 4.1 using the Zune 4 software. The firmware has been reinstalled twice (method 1) and the device has been formatted (method 2) twice following these instructions…”

Reader Ben pointed this out to us and as I don’t yet have a Zune HD, I’m not familiar with the issues that it may be experiencing. This comes from the official Zune forums. Has anyone else out there suffered the issues that this poor user has? They’ve apparently had sporadic touch screen issues that they couldn’t resolve and are RMAing their Zune HD to Microsoft.

Of course because when one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong, the poor user was given error messages from the Zune support site when they were in the RMA process! So has anyone (hopefully not) run into any issues like this? If so, did you fix them and how?


Friday, September 18, 2009

AnythingButIpod Lists Zune HD Tips & Tricks

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 03:30 PM

"We have slightly modified the wireless sync behavior for Zune HD. Instead of remaining connected once you establish the wireless connection, you will now automatically exit the connection once the player determines there is no content to sync. In the auto sync wireless scenario, the player will continue to attempt to reconnect every 10 minutes if wireless sync has been set-up, the player has AC power, no media is playing, and there is no user activity on the player."

If you are trying to unlock every bit of potential that your new Zune HD has, then you might want to head over to AnythingButIpod and check out their forum post detailing every little thing that you may not have known how to do but want to. Or how to do things that you didn't even think about. ABI has TONS of tips up in its forum so if you're a proud new owner of a Zune HD you should definitely follow the link and see what cool things are hidden!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Zune HD Hardware Deep Dive (Part 3)

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 04:00 PM

This is a "deep dive" video where I take a closer look at the device. This is part three; part one is found here, part two is found here. The model I'm looking at here is the 16 GB model, in black, and it sells for $219 USD as of September 2009.

Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. He wonders if the Zune is ever going to exist outside the USA.

Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the Thoughts Media Review Team! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? Then click here for more information.


Zune HD Hardware Deep Dive (Part 2)

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 03:32 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7306gRbnI5E

This is a "deep dive" video where I take a closer look at the device. This is part two; part one is found here. The model I'm looking at here is the 16 GB model, in black, and it sells for $219 USD as of September 2009.

Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. He wonders if the Zune is ever going to exist outside the USA.

Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the Thoughts Media Review Team! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? Then click here for more information.


Zune HD: Good. Shopping For It...Not So Much

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 11:07 AM

"After entering Best Buy I first asked the greeter where I could find the Zune HD. His response, “the what?” I then explained that it was Microsoft’s latest music and video player. He pointed me towards the music device section. Once I arrived in that section I saw the Apple devices on display, the Sansa devices, and then the Zune section. Noticeably absent was the Zune HD."

Geek.com has a combined purchase experience and first impressions review up on the Zune HD. While the Best Buy experience sounds slightly humorous, I think if I was Microsoft I'd be a little annoyed with Best Buy if this was common across all of their stores. Was anyone else in Best Buy at launch to know if this was a common problem or perhaps just something specific to this store? Hopefully this was an isolated problem.

Geek does like the Zune HD overall but I think they have some pretty legitimate gripes with the out of box experience. I don't understand why Microsoft makes the Zune pretty much unusable until you've hooked it up but I've seen this trend in other devices too. My G1 was completely useless until I had it all set up with my GMail account.

The Zune HD really has gotten a pretty good reception so if Microsoft is trying to breath new life into the platform its a good start. Let's see if all of this positive press translates into sales.


Shure SE210 Earphones: Pure Audio Delight

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune Accessories" @ 09:00 AM

Product Category: Earphones Manufacturer: Shure
Where to Buy: Amazon [Affiliate]
Price: $97.78
System Requirements: Any MP3 player with a 3.5mm headphone jack
Specifications: Headphones have a frequency range of 25Hz - 18.5kHz with a 26 ohm impedance. They come in black or white and have an 18 inch cable with a 36 inch extension. The headphones pack up easily in a small travel case and come with a deluxe fit kit of 7 different tips to easily fit almost any ear size.

Pros:

  • Amazing sound, it blew me away;
  • Lots of fit options, ensuring a comfortable, tight seal;
  • High quality construction that should stand up to long term use.

Cons:

  • Somewhat expensive;
  • In-ear design takes getting used to.

Summary: No matter what you use as an MP3 player there is a universal law that applies to your device of choice. The included ear buds suck. Sure, there’s different levels of suck, but in the end they’re all pretty horrible. There was a brief period of time when the Zune came with the premium sound isolating earphones and those were certainly a step up from the usual throwaways you get. Still, to really appreciate your Zune or "other" MP3 player you only have two avenues to really get the most out of your music. Read more...


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Zune Originals Colours: Not Quite as Awful as I Feared

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 AM

http://www.winsupersite.com/zune/zunehd_hw_02.asp

I had really high hopes for getting a sweet red 32 GB Zune HD, but when I looked at the Zune Originals site and saw the magenta/pink preview image, I immediately disliked the colour. I checked it on my colour-corrected monitor, then on another monitor, and it had the same awful lipstick-at-a-rave colour on both. Yuck! And the blue custom? Rather than a bold, vibrant royal blue, it looked like a couple of shades darker than baby blue - again, not compelling. Well, it looks like the renders aren't very accurate, because in the photo above, Paul Thurrott shows us the three Zune Originals colours. They're not quite the colours I'd have hoped for, but they definitely look better than the renders on the Zune Originals site. I suppose part of the problem is that they're not plastic shells, so the colours are going to end up looking different...still, I'm less excited about the Zune Originals than I once was. And what's with there being no 32 GB Zune HD in black from Zune Originals? Black, the default, non-offensive colour that is a great fall-back colour if you don't like any of the other options? Not offered. I think that's a big mistake on Microsoft's part.

And maybe I'm just cranky from having to stay up late last night, but I'm not finding the customizations compelling this time around. The Zune team removed all of the "tattoo" designs offered with previous generation Zunes (which is what I got on my red Zune 80), so your only options are the artist series, MLS series, or Xbox series. The artist series might be cool for some people, but as I looked through every image, only one or two were even remotely interesting - most were too over the top for my taste. MLS? I'm not a sports guy - other than MMA - so that's a fail for me. And the Xbox series? The Gears of War 2 logo looks slick, but I haven't played any of the other games more than a few minutes so wouldn't want them stamped on my Zune.

I can't help but feel disappointed in this initial release of Zune Originals - between the iffy colours and the lack of cool tattoo options, this doesn't seem like a great start for making cool-looking customized Zunes.

UPDATE: Looks like the Zune HD will be available in black, 32 GB, eventually. Weird that it's not available at launch though!


AnythingButIpod Disassembles Zune HD

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 08:30 AM

"You will need: Tri-wing screw driver. #0, T-4 & T-5 Screw driver, Tweezers. Tri-Wing screw drivers can be found on Amazon or if you need to search elsewhere it is the same screw type that Nintendo uses on their Wii and DS Lite."

If you're a brave or crazy individual who wants to pull apart your shiny, brand new, Zune HD then according to AnythingButIpod, those are the tools you'll want onhand. If you're less brave or perhaps just sane, you'll want to follow this link over to AnythingButIpod to see what's actually inside. ABI really did an excellent job on showing off all the Zune's guts so if you've got a strong constitution for mangled electronics then you should really go check out the whole article.

I don't want to give it all away, but I will say that the tribute that Microsoft apparently has on the inside of all of its Zune HDs in memory of a Zune team member who passed away is actually very touching.


AnythingButIpod Sizes Up The Zune HD

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 08:00 AM

"...in an attempt to help you size up the Zune HD, here is a photo with hopefully a player that you already own. Full resolution photo after the break."

There's two important things we can take away from this picture. AnythingButIpod has a lot of MP3 players! More importantly, if you haven't been able to touch a Zune HD yet in person (like myself), you can see how it sizes up against other PMPs. One thing I notice when looking at the picture is how well Microsoft used the surface of the device. There's not a ton of bezel to make the Zune HD too much larger than the screen.

I'm looking forward to going to the store and playing with one in person (I am waiting on a 64 GB model before I play with one full time!) to see how it really feels but visually I think it stacks up very nicely in size to the other players. AnythingButIpod has a nice high resolution shot of all of these PMPs together!


Zune 4.0 is now Live. Get It While It's Hot!

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune News" @ 07:17 AM

http://zuneinsider.com/archive/2009...-0-is-here.aspx

"Early this morning the Zune PC software update went live, Zune HD hit the street and Zune.net got some cool new features. We can't wait for you to get the chance to download the new software, get your hands on a Zune HD and give Zune Pass a spin."

After what seems like months of waiting (technically there was no spring update), Zune has released new hardware, software, website, and Marketplace. One thing that's struck me is how coherant the update is through the software, website, and what I've seen of the Zune HD. In adition to the big changes, it appears a number of longtime requests have been fixed along the way. For example, the software now has a "mini mode" and the now playing screen can finally go full-screen. And even the older devices have been blessed with an update to 3.2 firmware. We'll be covering the news all morning as it happens, so if you see something cool please be sure to let us know.


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