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All posts tagged "zune hd"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Valentines Zune Originals are Up!

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 04:04 PM


Perhaps it has something to do with all the love the Zune guys feel at this time of year, but for the last three years the Zune Originals team have brought out a set of limited edition tattoo engravings to celebrate the Valentines Day holiday. There are ten designs in all, and all but one feature the heart shape in some fashion. Each of the Zune HD's six colors is available for free engraving, and can be ordered in 16 or 32 GB variety (it looks like we're going to have to wait a little longer for a 64 GB model after all.) Those finding themselves less interested in heart-covered patterns this February 14 can still pick up a design from the Artist, MLS, or Xbox series, at the usual $15 charge.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Shocker: iPod Wins CNET Prizefight

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 12:34 PM

This is a little after the fact since this has been sitting in my queue for a while, but here we go anyway! This is why I hate that people think the Zune needs applications to compete in the market. CNET’s prize fight is a little absurd because we have two devices that in reality can provide the same service but really don’t do the same thing. I’ll save you the time…the iPod Touch blows away the Zune HD 4.5 to 4.0 in the 5 round fight. But they’re comparing two different things throughout the fight. I feel like they may as well compare a Zune and a Corvette and dock the Zune points for not putting out 400HP. Yeah sure, they both play music!

If you want a device for a little music, applications, games…go get a Touch. If you want multimedia device that’s dedicated to music and video, go get a Zune. They’re just not comparable and not because one is better than the other. If you take away application store out from the Zune equation, and there isn't much you're losing out on, then the Zune is not competing with a Touch at all. But because it has one it does compete. Poorly.

In most reviews I’ve seen, including CNET, the Zune wins on sound and screen quality. The navigation is considered on par with the iPod. Some like the Zune better while others like the iPod better but I think everyone can agree both devices are very good on that front and then it’s just personal preference. Both devices are well liked for the physical design. If I’m looking for a portable media player, the Zune just won on sound and picture. If I’m looking for a PDA, I’m getting an iPod.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Zune HD Twitter App & Curse Words

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 10:53 AM

Soon after the Zune HD Twitter app was released yesterday, people who were following people who swore in their Tweets noticed something strange: the app on the Zune was filtering the swear words and replacing letters with asterixes. It looked like this:

Image courtesy of Engadget

Now, personally I don't follow many people who swear - and would probably un-follow anyone who swore constantly - so this issue didn't bother me at all. Many people got worked up about this though, so when I started to think about why Microsoft did this, the reason seemed obvious to me: parental controls.

If you're a parent, and you bought an iPod for your kid, you might not want him to be able to download any app he wants from the app store. The app store doesn't have truly "adult" apps, but there are some "mature themed" apps. From within iTunes you can control which apps your kid is allowed to download. If you own an iPod you've doubtless seen the pop-up warnings about age 17+ content on apps like FML [NSFW] - those are more of a "cover your butt" thing from developers. The reality is that if a parent wants to control which apps their kid downloads, they need to lock it down from iTunes. Read more...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Twitter App Coming to Zune HD Today

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 08:28 AM

Details are scarce - if I hadn't checked my Twitter feed early this morning, I wouldn't have seen this - but apparently the long-awaited Twitter app for the Zune HD is going to be released on Zune Marketplace today. Watch for it!

UPDATE: The Twitter client is now live in the Marketplace. Anyone tried it yet? What do you think of it? Some screen shots after the break. I'm on Twitter a fair bit, so this app is by far the most useful of them all for me. What I really want is an email client though... Read more...

Tags: app, twitter, zune hd

Friday, November 27, 2009

New Zune Colours on Zune Originals Confirmed

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 03:50 PM


There you have it. Exciting, no? Magenta is coming on December 1st, and so is Purple. I'm kind of curious about these choices because magenta and purple aren't exactly far apart on the colour spectrum. Myself, all I want is a Zune HD with 64 GB of storage. Colours are great, but capacity matters even more.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kicker Offers Firmware Update for ZK500

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 09:00 PM


"Stillwater has developed a firmware update to make its existing Kicker-brand ZK500 Zune-docking speaker system compatible with the new Zune HD. Consumers who bought the $249-everday speaker system after Microsoft released the Zune HD in September are eligible for a free firmware update. Consumers who bought their speaker system before the Zune HD's release must pay $40. In either case, the system must be sent in to Stillwater to make the upgrade. Stillwater will cover all shipping costs."

Good news for ZK500 owners, though it's a shame they didn't use the Zune-as-a-firmware-host method for updating the ZK-500 dock. Having to send your dock back kind of sucks, though it's nice that the $40 is all it costs you since Stillwater is covering the shipping costs both ways.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Games Released for the Zune HD

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 11:09 AM

This morning six new games (well, five games and one app) were added to the Zune Marketplace for Zune HD owners:

Audiosurf Tilt: Audiosurf creates a rollercoaster ride from any song. Choose any song from your music collection and watch Audiosurf turn it into a unique roller coaster track for you to ride. The song you choose determines the shape, the speed, and the mood of each track. Tilt your Zune like a steering wheel to collect colored blocks and avoid speedbumps. Unlock more than 30 designs, each with its own special theme and color palette.

Checkers: Enjoy the classic game of Checkers in a beautiful outdoor park setting. Play against the computer or against a friend.

Lucky Lanes Bowling: Bowl in different game modes: exhibition, blackjack, golf. Play in five different bowling alleys with unique themes, all with the swipe of a finger. Choose from twenty different bowlers and twenty two different ball styles. You can play against the computer or play with up to four friends.

Piano: Play your own tune, or play along with your favorite music on this electronic piano.

Project Gotham Racing: Ferrari Edition: Tear through the streets of London, Tokyo, and New York in the Ferrari of your choice using multi touch controls and the built in accelerometer.

Vans Sk8: Pool Service: From the Admiral to the old abandoned rec center pool, Bucky Lasek and Omar Hassan know a good bowl to skate. Hit the pools and put these Vans skaters to the test with all the tricks in their bag and achieve hero status once you unlock their pro model skateboards.

The games still have those silly ads in front of them - I can't imagine Microsoft is making any significant money off of the ads, so I have to wonder why they exist in the first place. The app story on the Zune HD isn't a good one, so every barrier Microsoft puts in front of Zune HD customers (or reviewers) makes a bad story worse. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see these apps released, but there's still no open marketplace for developers to sell and give away their creations. The Zune HD isn't going to take off as an app platform until that happens. Microsoft is planning to release a Facebook and Twitter application, so that will please some people, but until they really allow the Zune HD to blossom as an application platform, this luke-warm app experience isn't going to lure people away from the iPod Touch. And the whole "12 seconds to start the calculator" thing has got to get fixed as well - I don't want to show apps to anyone on my Zune HD because that's just embarrassing.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Zune HD 4.3 Firmware Released Today

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 12:49 PM

There's a Zune HD firmware update that has just been released - it will take your Zune HD from 4.1 to 4.3...I don't know why they skipped 4.2, nor do I know what this firmware update adds or fixes. There's no information about this firmware update at Zune Insider. My Zune HD didn't automatically detect the new firmware update - I had to go into Settings > Device > Player Update in order to get it. It installed without a hitch, but I don't know what's been changed. If anyone has any information, please share!

Monday, November 2, 2009

AnythingButiPod Takes a Look at Zune HD

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 09:41 PM


"When holding the Zune HD it is very obvious that a great deal of time and resources were spent on the design and build. Its assembly is very impressive; there is no give or creaking at all. The lines where one material meets another are precise and buttons have the perfect amount of travel and tactile click. Simply put, the Zune HD is a premium piece of hardware."

AnythingButiPod's Graham Skee posted his review of the Zune HD device, software, and services, and likes what he sees. He also dives into depth on video with the media UI, touch gestures, and a bunch of the other included goodies. And, in trademark ABI fashion, Graham's got a shot of his Zune HD stacked up against 30 other portable devices. It's worth checking out the article just for this preposterous shot.

Tags: reviews, zune hd

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ZuneBoards Unboxes The Zune HD Originals

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 06:30 AM


Zune Boards forum member Creative Zune has put together a set of unboxing pictures and videos of the Zune Originals series Zune HDs. There's a shot of one of each color, just in case you might be on the fence. Just as a heads-up, the green HD appears a bit more yellow than it is in person, so keep in mind that the colors may not be as they appear.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Paul Thurott Reviews Zune Services, Software & Zune HD

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Articles & Resources" @ 09:00 PM


"But the Zune HD soldiers on with the same weird limitations as its predecessors and as Apple expands and enhances the iPod lineup and its surrounding hardware, software, and services ecosystem, the gap only widens. Today, the Zune HD is offered in only one country worldwide, the United States, and when I asked Microsoft about this, I was met with a cooler-than-usual response that offered little to no hope that the company took this product seriously enough to offer it outside its own locale."

Paul Thurott, of Win SuperSite fame, has finished up his exhaustive review of the Zune Software, Device, and Services, assigning ratings (in the form of pictures of his head) for each of the key parts. Overall he seems to like the device and software, but finds many parts lacking in a number of ways. It's a long read, but well-worth it.

Tags: reviews, zune hd

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This Is What a Zune HD White Screen of Death Looks Like

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 03:34 PM


"It's tough to know just how often this particular problem is occurring, but we've heard a fair share of reports on the Zune HD's otherwise gorgeous OLED display having performance glitches. And needless to say, you'd notice it. Here, the touch controls are 100% intact; the problem is that the bottom majority of the screen is completely washed out in a bright, white filter."

We'd heard about the non-responsive screen issue last week, but this one seems to be unrelated. A white mask shows up over the lower half of the screen (it appears to cover everything but the "breadcrumb" navigation area of the interface.) As Gizmodo points out, at 28 seconds in it appears the colors show up normally, lending credence to the theory that it's merely a firmware-based glitch and can be fixed in a future update.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ballmer Confirms Zune Coming To Windows Mobile!

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 12:53 PM


"What is Zune HD? Zune HD is a couple things. Number one, Zune HD is a music player with a nice music service. By the way, the same software will be available on Windows Phones and Windows PCs. You have that today on the PC, you'll see that in our phone environment as well."

Straight from Ballmer's mouth to your eyes and ears. Ballmer dropped this tasty morsel during an interview with CNET. Now of course there is no mention of WHEN, but like pocketnow.com, I believe it won't happen until the Windows Mobile 7 OS launches. Even the most powerful of the current crop of Windows Mobile devices probably would choke on a full Zune HD experience.

This is, without a question, excellent news. Microsoft desperate needs to integrate its different platforms in an intelligent way and this is absolutely one of them. I no longer use Windows Mobile (I switched to Android almost a year ago) and I was just saying today I can't see a reason I'd come back. This could be a reason. This would be a major upgrade over WMP at least!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Vaja Release Zune HD Case

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


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.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Five Reasons to Love Zune HD, and Five More to Stick With An iPod

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 09:41 PM


"Naturally as an iPod devotee, I felt predisposed to Hate (with a capital "h") the Zune, but I decided to give it a fighting chance nonetheless. I loaded 'er up with about 2 gigs of my most-played music, downloaded whatever apps the Zune Marketplace had to offer, subscribed to a podcast or two, and got myself a two-week ZunePass to make sure I was getting the full sha-bang. After five days' worth of go-rounds on the NYC subway, I realized there are a few spots where the Zune HD does in fact out-class the "funnest iPod ever." But don't check me off as a convert: For every nugget I came to love about the Zune, there was another one tipping the scales back to the touch."

As if I needed another reason to break out this picture. PopSci's Corinne Iozzio finds many things to love about her HD-convert experience, and a number of reasons to stick with the tried-and-true iPod. To be fair, her first two suggestions could be easily fixed in coming software updates—and probably will—but the others are valid points. Have you switched to Zune HD from an iPod? If not, why not?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Zune HD Originals Starting to Arrive

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


"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


"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!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Is Zune HD the Beginning of A Microsoft Revolution?

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 08:56 PM


"Let's peer ahead one year, where we'll see how the release of Zune HD represents a shift (*ahem*) in Microsoft's strategy, a convergence of media everywhere, using multiple screens for the same content. You buy (or steal) those movies, TV shows or songs once, and then you can watch them anywhere. Imagine this: You carry around a slim, tiny phone, and when you get home you plug it into a dock that charges it. Meanwhile you instantly have access to its content — movies, songs, pictures — on any PC on your network, your Xbox 360, or any TV in your house. That video you started watching on the train? You can finish watching it in your home theater in HD, even 1080p on your Xbox 360."

I'll believe it when I see it. The pieces have been in place for years, and only now are we starting to see a real convergence in device strategy between the individual Microsoft departments. DVICE makes a good point about the usefulness of a subscription service tying the individual pices together, and the Zune branding of Xbox Live video marketplace was definitely a good first step. It remains to be seen, however, if new Xbox, Zune, and Media Center developments (not to mention those in Windows Mobile and Windows 7, plus Pink, Turtle, and Courier) will help sort out these integration deficiencies, or the groups will continue to live isolated as they have the last few years. I'm really hoping I'm proven wrong.

Tags: thoughts, , zune hd

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Atomic" Zune HD Being Auctioned Off On eBay?

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Hardware" @ 10:46 AM


It looks like the Atomic Red Zune HD, which was revealed last week through hacked software resources is real, and being sold on eBay. There's not much info on the sales page, like where the seller got the device from (I'd assume it's similar to the v2 "citron" Zune 8, which was a ship gift for the team), but hopefully we'll find out soon enough. I really want to get one in the Atomic color, but with the current bid at $265, and four days left, I'd assume these pictures are the closest I'm going to get.

Zune HD Screen Not Responsive

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


“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?

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