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All posts tagged "firmware"

Monday, April 12, 2010

Zune 4.5 Features, Laid Out In Full

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Software" @ 11:00 PM


"1.Smart DJ2.Native AVI and XVID support3.Marketplace on TV-Out...9.In artist view, you can now play all albums or songs, or add them to now playing.10.In the marketplace, you can see more than 3 of an artist's top songs.11.Playlists now have a transparent background in Quickplay...."

Now that the 4.5 firmware has been out for a few days, users have poked through the nooks and crannies to find all the new hotness on offer. If you needed another (or 20-something) reason to update, check out the thread.

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, November 18, 2008

Zune 3.1 Firmware and Software Released Today

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 09:00 AM

Today, the Zune 3.1 release come out - and for a .1 release, it's looking pretty big! The most obvious change is that there are now three new games, bringing the total to five. There are three new games - Checkers, Sudoku, and Space Battle - along with a multi-player enhancement to Texas Hold 'Em. The three new games, and their descriptions are as follows:

Checkers: "Checkers - the eternal strategy challenge you can learn in minutes and play for life. Play the classic game or try suicide mode, in which the first to lose all their pieces wins."

SuDoKu: "Solve Sudoku by filling in all nine rows and columns with the numerals 1 through 9. Each numeral can only be placed once in a given row or column. Play the classic 9×9 or a quick 6×6 game."

Space Battle: "Survive as long as you can against increasingly aggressive waves of alien attackers! Customize your ship and add weapons to your armory as you progress through the game."

Texas Hold 'Em is enhanced with new multiplayer optons. I don't have any details about this, but I presume it's for local WiFi play with nearby Zunes. There are also new single-player difficulty levels for you Texas Hold 'Em pros out there.

Other enhancements with this 3.1 release include:

  • Zune Social enhancements include a visual refresh to make things easier to navigate, and a new feature called "Like Minded Listeners" that will let you see how compatible your music tastes are with friends and other listeners.
  • There's improved stability and performance in both the device firmware and desktop software. One the device they've improved the play count reporting and content synchronization, especially channels and wireless purchases from the device. The device side firmware should also eliminate some of the lag we sometimes see.

Want to snag this 3.1 release? Just sync your Zune and sometime within the next few hours you should see the 3.1 update pop up. Enjoy, and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Zune App: Stable Fluid

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Media" @ 09:00 PM


Check out this cool Zune app by Jos Stam Skeel Lee based on an algorithm written by Jos Stam, which emulates an interactive Lava Lamp on your device. Rubbing your finger along the Zune Pad pushes the "fluid" around the screen, and makes for some really cool visualizations. Apps like these showcase all the cool things developers can do with XNA and the Zune device, but at the moment all this functionality is limited by the lack of an official Zune game store. If there's one thing I'd like to see in the next big update it's a well thought-out distribution chain for developers and consumers alike, without the need to jump through complicated technical hurdles to get the games and programs we want on our devices. So what are you waiting for, Zune Team? Get on it!

UPDATE: Clarified app authorship. Sorry Skeel!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Engadget Asks: What Do You Want in 4.0?

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 02:30 PM


"Now that the dust has settled on Microsoft's impressive, if not quite revolutionary, Zune 3.0 update, it's time for us all to do what we do best: start demanding a new version of desktop and player software -- and a hardware refresh, of course -- chock-full of features that we've been asking for since day one, and a few things we dreamed up along the way. Pick your top-priority from the poll below, or just go nuts in the comments -- the floor is yours."

For me, it's gotta be touchscreen and low-cost models, but for the brand as a whole, I think Zune really needs to get a Mac client out there, if for nothing else than to shut up the haters. In any event, head over to Engadget and sound off! Let 'em know what Zuners want.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Unsubscribe From Podcasts, Right On Your Zune!

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 PM


I guess bufixes weren't all yesterday's firmware update included; reader Nick points out and Zune Boards confirms that a certain oft-requested feature has finally been added—you can now unsubscribe from podcasts right from your device. This is great for discovering podcasts and getting rid of the ones you don't like. Users with the 2.3 firmware update can check it out by playing a podcast and bringing up the menu by pressing the center button on the Zune30 or pressing down on the Zune Pad on the 4, 8, or 80. To unsubscribe, simply select "unsubscribe." Nice, right?

EDIT (12/20/07): A ZuneBoards commenter noticed that using "play all" while looking at an artist no longer sorts the list alphabetically by song title. Now, songs are played in alphabetical order by album title, then track number. Neat.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Zune Firmware 2.1.4 - Fake or the Real Deal?

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 09:42 AM


"These photos claim to show a first-gen Zune running a firmware 2.14 that can purchase and download tracks over Wi-Fi with Microsoft points. They come from the same friendly Zune source that sent us the first photos of Zune 2.0 that some readers thought were Photoshopped. I can't tell if this is merely a first-gen Zune showing just an image of a firmware/download screen, or the true thing. What do you think?"

In response to Gizmodo's thought-provoking query, I'm calling this one out as a fake. Aside from the fact that this story has stemmed from a source who offered us a clear fake of the "Zune 2.0" a few weeks back (yes, check out those repetitive ripples in the screen two-thirds of the way down), there's something about the red "2.1.4 Beta" text that just doesn't smell right. Not to mention the lack of a Wi-Fi icon and the infamous blurriness of the shots that we've come to associate with all things faked/leaked. Your thoughts on this one?

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Fix Coming for Zune Skipping Issue

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 07:07 AM


"Yesterday I had a meeting w/ James, the Zune release manager and he spilled the beans on the next firmware update. In Mid March, we’re going to release Zune Firmware Update 1.3. Here’s what’s in the update: We’re fixing the skipping problem that some users were experiencing – that is, content acquired from Zune Marketplace will no longer skip when played on the device."

Well, apparently Microsoft HAS been listening, at least a little, and is finally responding to the skipping issue that many users have complained about. According to Cesar over at Zune Insider, we should see firmware update 1.3 sometime in mid March. This update will fix a few nagging problems, including the skipping issue, improved device detection and syncing, and an issue with the FM tuner draining the battery in sleep mode. Unfortunately, there is still no word on when we might start seeing some new features coming down the pipe.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What Some People Don't Realize: The Zune Won't WiFi Share Out of The Box

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 12:00 PM

When I was at the Microsoft Partner Pavilion at CES, there was a station set up with various music and video playback devices. They had several Zunes there, and a few people picked them up to try and share files back and forth. They commented that they couldn't understand why it wouldn't work, and everyone, including the Microsoft employee staffing the station was baffled. I picked up several of the Zunes and checked the Settings > About > Zune information. Sure enough, these were Zunes right out of the box with the 1.0 firmware on them. What that meant is that they were unable to share wirelessly. It would seem that the Zune was released so quickly, they didn't have the device software finished before it had to go off to Toshiba for manufacturing.

They made the doubtless hard call to ship a device that couldn't do what the marketing materials said it could do out of the box until it received a firmware upgrade. Was this a bad call? It allowed them to have the Zune in the retail channel for Christmas, and that seems to have been the single most important goal for the Zune team. But people doing demos of the devices, especially Microsoft staff members at CES, need to know that every Zune should be connected to a computer to get the latest firmware update before it will actually function like it's supposed to. Given the litigious nature of the world today, I'm surprised no one launched a lawsuit against Microsoft for deceptive marketing...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

High-Resolution Album Art with Firmware / Zune Software 1.2

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 08:45 AM

We've had a couple of days to acknowledge that Firmware 1.2 for the Zune was a godsend for having introduced significant enhancements in performance across the board. But there's an extra surprise - one that remains undocumented, so you'll have to see it for yourself to believe it.

You all know that the Zune has a habit of taking high-resolution album art embedded in files, downgrading it to an offensive 200 x 200 (or thereabouts), and then upscaling it to 240 x 240 to fit its QVGA display. Blech! That nasty habit is gone with Firmware / Zune Software 1.2. I performed a little experiment today. I decided to start fresh by nuking the contents of my Zune and the Zune software, re-adding the media to the Zune software, and re-syncing my library. Each and every track in my library has 480 x 480 album art, so if the Zune wants to make album art look good, that's a perfect ingredient to work with. After the sync, I loaded up my first track and noticed immediately that album art looked clearer than ever before. In disbelief, I loaded up a few more and was not left disappointed. The Zune was actually taking advantage of the 480 x 480 album art and scaling it appropriately (without the 200 x 200 intermediary) to 240 x 240 for its QVGA display. There was a catch, though. Artifacts were still visible (but less pronounced), so the Zune was still compressing album art to a degree. But hey, you can't have too much of a good thing all at once. Perhaps Microsoft will tweak this in the next firmware update. ;-)

And now it's your turn to savour the moment. Delete an album or two off your Zune and Zune software, or your entire music library if you're feeling gung-ho, re-add the media, ensure that you have relatively high-resolution album art embedded in your tracks, and re-sync. Can you see the difference?

Note: If you're familiar with the Folder.jpg album art system in PlaysForSure devices, you may be interested to know that the Zune utilizes a similar mechanism. Prior to the availability of Firmware / Zune Software 1.2, 200 x 200 Folder.jpg files would be generated from embedded album art, transferred and converted to another file format on the Zune, and then upscaled to 240 x 240 (blurry). With the updates in place, Folder.jpg files are now 240 x 240 in size - perfect for the Zune's QVGA display. The end result? Clarity.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Zune and Windows Vista: The Pictures

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Software" @ 08:00 PM

Interested in seeing what Zune looks and feels like in Windows Vista, but don't have a copy of the OS to experience it for yourself? We'll give you a short tour. It feels very similar to the Windows XP version, but there are some minor differences. Read on for more.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Zune Firmware 1.2 Released

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Software" @ 07:40 PM

Microsoft has released Firmware 1.2 for the Zune. It's a great early Christmas present, but if you were hoping to see some new features (proper podcasting support, wireless streaming - you name it), you'll be sorely disappointed. Read on for a drill down of the update experience.

Friday, December 1, 2006

RockBox for Zune in the Works

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Thoughts Media Off Topic" @ 05:00 PM


"Though it’s not ready yet, developers are working on a Zune port of Rockbox (on volunteered time, nonetheless), which isn’t much different than the Toshiba Gigabeat port they’d already started work on. This means that sometime in the future, we should see a workable version for download. But before you go and get excited, it’s worth noting that if you run Rockbox on your Zune, you’ll probably not only loose compatibility with the Zune Marketplace, but will most likely void your warranty, as well. It’s not yet for the unexperienced or faint of heart, but it is something to consider."

If you've never heard of RockBox, you're not alone. Only use geeks who try to leech every single little bit of power from their devices would be willing to detroy their warranty by completely replacing the operating system on their device. I was temped once long ago with one of my ancient MP3 players, but I never did it because I was too afraid of hosing my device. So if you're the adventurous type, you might want to give it a look (when it's ready of course). I'd be interested if they're able to get more out of the WiFi component with an entirely different firmware...

Tags: firmware, rockbox

Friday, November 17, 2006

New Features Iced Until Spring

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Thoughts Media Off Topic" @ 08:30 AM


"In this interview, we learned that we are not going to see new features for the 30Gb Zune player before spring. We might have a firmware update in January but only for small adjustments."

We all know that the Zune has the hardware to potentially do much more than it is currently limited to, particularly where wireless connectivity is concerned. All that is need is some tweaking from Microsoft in the form of firmware updates. Interestingly enough, the initial shipping firmware on the Zune didn't even have wireless functionality. So right out of the box, my Zune required an update to version 1.1 firmware to enabled wireless sharing. (This firmware update did ship with the Zune on the companion CD.) So what new features do we have to look forward to? Well, as ClicZune found out from Zune team member David Caulton, it will be next spring before we find out. According the David, for now the Zune team is focused on responding to issues that arise from mass deployment over the holidays, and any firmware releases before spring will in all likelihood be bug fixes. ClicZune also discusses David some of the features and future directions of the Zune team. Check out the whole interview here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Support for Vista, Podcasts, and Device-Based Marketplace Access

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 AM


"And although Microsoft is starting with a small feature list, Erickson said the company will be able to make additions fairly quickly through software updates. First on that list is compatibility with Windows Vista."

Yes, we all know that the Zune is a little crippled in its current form. First, the lack of Windows Vista support, but they're working on that (expect an update by November 30; if not, well before January 30). The lack of support for podcasts is a deal breaker for some, but that's going to be amended in the short term too. You can also expect a new and easy way to get videos on to the device (cryptic, I have to admit). In the long term, Microsoft is hoping to open up the Wi-Fi and perhaps reach out to enemy territory. Flagging and purchasing songs direct from the device? Mac support? It's all under consideration. The Zune team at Microsoft has ideas and wants the consumers to tell them what's hot and what's not, so go on, post 'em in this thread and we'll do our best to ensure they read it. ;-)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Zune.net Updated

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 03:00 AM


Microsoft has updated the Zune.net site to coincide with the official launch of Zune. You can download the Zune software or hit the Support page for your fix of how-to and troubleshooting guides, FAQs, manuals, and warranty information.

On an unrelated note, be sure to connect to the net when installing the Zune software. There's a Zune software update and Zune firmware update available for download during the installation process.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Misunderstood Zune Upgrade Ability & Why I'm Still Excited...

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 12:00 PM

Since launching this site and diving deep into everything about the Zune, I've noticed a repeating pattern over and over: Zune bloggers, and even Microsoft Zune staffers themselves, have touted the ability to upgrade the Zune as being some sort of amazing ability that other digital media players lack. I'm not sure where this comes from, but even Robert Scoble has fallen into the trap of thinking that this is somehow special. It's not. Every digital media player going back five years or more, has had the ability to be upgraded with new firmware. New firmware usually offers bug fixes, new features, or sometimes removes features (like Creative did with the new Zen Vision:M firmware update that removes FM radio recording).

I believe that confusion comes from people thinking that because the Zune has WiFi built in, that somehow the device will be able to perform stand-alone upgrades without needing to be connected to a PC. Nothing I've read to date indicates that will be possible out of the box - when there's a new firmware update available, you'll get it installed by connecting your Zune to your PC and downloading it with the Zune desktop client software. That's the way it works with the iPod, and that's the way it should work with other players as well, except most have such horrific desktop software clients that no one wants to install them. At best, the Zune has parity with the iPod in this regard: you'll connect your Zune to your PC, and the software will (presumably) inform you there's a new update for your Zune.

Now here's why I'm still excited about the Zune: for all of the frustration I feel about the massively limited WiFi capabilities, I believe firmly that the Zune will evolve more rapidly than any other digital media player on the market. Here's why: since the release of the Xbox 360 about a year ago, there have been three major updates. Read more...

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