With previous generation Zunes being discontinued, the Zune HD will be rolling solo into the next generation of the Zune platform. This hardware along with the software and services is a walled garden approach that tightly integrates content delivery across your Zune HD, PC, Xbox, and Windows Phone. It is an approach that creates a very seamless and easy to use experience but on the flip side can be limiting on choices of software and formats.
This Zune HD review will show off the features of the HD hardware and how it meshes with the Zune ecosystem.
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.
Below are a few photos of what is inside the box (you’re welcome for not boring you with an 8 min video of watching me take stuff out of a box, unboxing videos are the gadget world’s equivalent to Ambien). There is not much different from the regular store bought version other than a different design on the box and of course the custom color and etched back design. I chose not to get a design and just wanted a blue 32GB Zune. The blue and I imagine the other colors to be of the same tone colors, is an understated modern pastel. It is an attractive and not obnoxious color tone fitting in well with the entire Zune design scheme.
Last week, Cruelworld spotted four never before seen Zune HD colors lurking in the Zune software source code: pink, magenta, purple, and “atomic”.
Recently, it was discovered that an eBay user, who just happens to live in Washington, is in possession of this majestic and allusive Atomic Zune HD. The user, who says it was a gift from a “friend”, did what any of us would do when a friend gives us an extremely rare, impossible to find gift: sell it on eBay for cold hard cash.
It’s still unknown if these special colors were created specifically for the Zune Team, or if they’ll make an appearance in the wild at some point. But if you absolutely must over-pay for a Zune HD which may appear on store shelves down the road at a much lower price, head over to the ‘bay and get your bid on.
You didn’t think we would leave this one unscathed did you? For the last few days the Zune HD sat particularly close to the tool set. After passing by it a few times eying them both, I could not longer resist and started tearing it apart.
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
It is always difficult to gauge the size of a device from a picture and honestly I am always surprised regardless once I get the actual gadget in my hands. However, 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.
Still a day left before the much anticipated Zune HD launch and Dell already has the thing on sale.
Dell.com is offering to take 15% off Zune HD 16 and 32GB models if you enter coupon code 6FWJ247J1P44CK during checkout. That’s $33 off the 16GB and $43 off the 32GB, people! And to sweeten the deal—which means to add sugar to—Dell will ship your Zune for free. If you’re the least bit tempted, hit the links below.
Many assumed the Zune HD would arrive in other countries shortly after its September 15th US launch. But today it was reported by Ars Technica that Zune HD fans won’t be getting any love if they live anywhere outside the US
The news left many international Zune fans frustrated and wondering why Microsoft wouldn’t want to make the much anticipated Zune HD available to as many countries as possible. There are already several conspiracy theories floating around, but we turn to Senior Business Development Manager of Microsoft’s Zune team and ABi Zune forum resident Dave McLauchlan for the answer.
News about the launch date along with more details on the specs have been posted in the official press release. The important stuff: September 15th release; $220 / $290 for the 16GB and 32GB respectively; in store colors 16GB comes in black- 32GB in platinum; ZuneOriginals.net you will be able to get 5 different colors with 10 different engravings in any capacities; 33 hrs music / 8.5 hrs video.
All great news and some sweet looking specs, however, one thing this is really concerning: lack of DivX/XviD support. Windows 7 along with XBox 360 supports these file types right out of the box. The Zune HD features one of the most powerful mobile graphics processors to date, so it’s somewhat disheartening to see the lack of support for mainstream codec that is already supported on other Microsoft products. By contrast many of the other players such as the Samsung P3 or the Cowon S9 both playback DivX/XviD quite nicely.
If you are a DivX fan and are interested in the Zune HD I would encourage you to be vocal about this issue in the Zune HD forums and across the web. It is something that is possible to add in future firmware updates.
One of the top complains about the Zune has been the lack of Unicode support. For those that don’t know Unicode support will allow you to properly view foreign music with showing characters instead of those random boxes. So does this confirm that the Zune is coming to markets outside of the US? No, not necessarily, because there are legitimate reasons for the US- I mean we do listen to foreign music here. Its such a simple thing yet one of those make or break features for a lot of people. Kind of like the EQ.
This news broke on the Zune Insider Podcast #22. If you are at all interested in the Zune this is a must check out podcast. Jessica interviews Progressive DJ, DJ Dan and Matt has a chance to sit down with Hip-Hop star Wale.
The Clip+ has a fantastic little form factor; somewhat cheap in build quality but very rugged. The interface is simple and relatively straightforward. The features on the Clip are more or less average, however it supports the alternative Rockbox firmware which provides tons of additional options (gapless playback, Replaygain, playlists, Last.fm scrobbling, etc). Read the full review or go ahead and buy it.
The J3 is a fantastic PMP with a very nice AMOLED screen and tons of features. It sports Cowon's trademark BBE sound enhancements, and offers a customizable user interface with strong support by our user community. You can usually find it at Amazon for the best price - and don't forget to check out our review.
Microsoft Zune HD
Sure, many of us are not big fans of the walled garden, but there are a lot of great things going on with the Zune: sturdy hardware, ultra easy to use user interface, and a media player that is worthy of Editor’s Choice. You can check out our Zune HD review or stop by our Zune forums for the latest info and gossip.
Phonak Audéo PFE
Phonak Audéo PFE offer outstanding clarity and precision; natural, dynamic mids and treble, and decent bass for a single armature in-ear phone. They handle dense, complex music very well. The PFE work well with most acoustic and some electronic music genres, but bassheads might have to look at other alternatives. They're great for sports as well, since they fit very securely. Check out our review.
The Hippo VB (Variable Bass) offers a serious subwoofer for on the go, right in your head. They don’t just deliver generous quantities of punchy, textured bass, but good audio quality over the whole frequency range with decent clarity and exceptional soundstage. Exchangeable bass ports let you customize their sound to your liking. Read our in-depth Hippo VB review.
Soundmagic E10 / E30
The Soundmagic E10 and E30 are basically right in the middle between the Phonak PFE and Hippo VB - not too analytical sounding, not too bass heavy. The E10 provide a bit more bass, the E30 a bit more clarity. Both come with a very fair price tag considering the sound quality they deliver - a great choice for the audio aficionado on a budget. Read our E10 and E30 reviews for more info.