Hands On With New 120GB Zune (and the 8GB Blue One)

Apple might be busy today prepping for a release of new iPods tomorrow, but Microsoft is breaking out with the new (and rumored) Zune devices. Joining the Zune family comes a new 120GB hard drive model, and a 16GB flash version. The 8GB version will now be available in blue and black, in addition to the already offered pink and red. The big news, however, is in the Zune 3.0 software that will bring more features to the device itself. These features include a Buy from FM radio option, a Wi-Fi music store for downloading from hotspots with a Zune Pass and preloaded games. The good news is that you don’t need a new Zune to get the software update; all the new features will be available for older generation Zunes starting on September 16. We got a some hands on time with the new devices today and were thoroughly happy with the additions. Not surprisingly, the 120GB Zune is a bit bigger and heavier than the 80GB and is the choice for those that plan on bringing a good chunk of their music collection with them. The front of the device is glossier than the 80GB black version of the Zune and the back is also black, rather than the previous matte silver. The blue 8GB version is, well, royal blue. The software on the new Zune, however, is the change we care most about. Added to the main menu is a marketplace option. The marketplace on the device is well organized and you can browse lists of featured new releases and top songs and albums sorted by genre. There is also an option to search using the on-screen keypad. We searched for Natasha Beningfield and results showed up in about 10 seconds over the office WiFi connection we were on. We are happy to see Zune finally add this functioanlity to their devices. A games category has also been added to the main menu. We were less than impressed with the choice of Texas Hold ‘Em and Hexic. See a picture of Hexic above (you can see why we can hold back the excitement). Sure we are happy that these games are free and come preloaded but we would love to see a games section of the Marketplace. Microsoft did tell us that there are plans to add more games in the future. We also checked out the new Buy from FM service, which lets you tag and purchase songs you hear on FM radio stations directly from the Zune. When in a Wi-Fi hotspot, the song can be immediately downloaded to the Zune device, if not you can tag it for when you are connected next. We toggled to New York City’s Z100  and lo and behold their was an option to Add to Cart.  Since the station didn’t show the name of the song or the Artist (we assume because there was an advertisment on the air) it wasn’t available for download. Also demoed were a few cool additions to the on the PC software. Microsoft has done a few neat things to make discovering music easier. All software updates will be avilable on September 16 from www.zune.net. The 120GB version will retail for $249.99, the 80GB for $229.9, and the 16GB version for $199.99. The 8GB version will drop down to $149.99.

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  1. Jay Royson Says:

    The zune keeps getting better!!! At the end of the day, it’s about the software and additional functionality. With Microsoft’s deep pockets, will to win, and expertise in software development, they will become a threat to Apple’s domination in this industry. I own 2 zunes and love them. With this new software release (for FREE), it keeps getting better.

  2. steve Says:

    Jay, You are a stupid idiot.
    The zune is a poor copy of the ipod.
    You apparently have never owned an ipod, because if you did you would not be telling the world that Jay Royson is a complete dumba$$.

  3. Mitch Says:

    Steve what makes the iPod better than the Zune? The intuitive wheel that you spin right to go down and left to go up? The spreadsheet that is iTunes? Non-existent radio? Non-existent wi-fi? Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Zune has everything the iPod has except more, and it does half of it better.

  4. terminalx Says:

    @ Steve

    Ah look a troll!

    So nothing to offer other then being a sheeple, huh?

    The only thing the ipod and zune have in common is they both are mp3 players

    You know instead of having blind loyalty to a company some people check out the product first rather then read the label…

  5. Matt Says:

    Guys, please go easy on Steve. He’s one of those poor suckers that bought an ipod and wished he bought a zune instead. Right now he is out of money and has no options except asking his mom again to buy him another mp3 player but she won’t because she’s already past due on her trailer payment. So, PLEASE you guys… be nice to steve!

  6. Jeff Says:

    @ steve

    If you read some the comments in some of the other gadget blogs, you will see many people who have switched from an ipod to a zune and loving it. I personally have not owned either but am seriously considering a zune right now.

  7. Fracking Jesus Says:

    Jesus Christ. There’s still no East Asian/Unicode Tag support in 3.0. Jesus Christ.

  8. 0xCAFE Says:

    Check out my full review of the new Zune and 3.0 software:

    Microsoft Zune 3G 120Gb & Zune 3.0 Software [Review]

  9. aUSTIN Says:

    HAHAHAHAHHA YOU GUYS ARE ALL FUNNY ZUNE IS WAY BETTER….DUH!…I SWITCHED FROM IPOD TO ZUNE …AND IM WAY MORE HAPPY WITH THE ZUNE IT WORKS BETTER PLAYS NICER AND JUST LOOKS COOLER

  10. Ian Says:

    I have a first gen Zune and have always enjoyed it. Microsoft has made the Zune software compatible only with Windows though, which is a serious bother to people who would like to use other OS’s. It probably also dissuades people from buying one who otherwise might.

  11. breanna Says:

    well i seem to be the only girl.
    and i ahve never owned a ” ipod” but i ahve listened to one and played around with it
    and zunes are way betetr only beacuse they do have wi-fi etc.
    yes you can only use “zune” software but i am sure that will be upgraded soon
    i have 120 gb zune and i love it :)

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