Tag Archives: zune

Windows Phone 7 Devices Hit the Streets Today in the U.S.

Mobile enthusiast and a garage developer Richard Mungeer was the first person to purchase a Windows Phone 7 device today in New York City’s Times Square AT&T Store. From what I’ve seen already, Microsoft is definitely back in the mobile game with this launch.

It’s worth noting that reports are circulating telling you that you can purchase one of these new devices on either Dell Mobility or Amazon Wireless for as low as $149.99 with a new two-year contract. That’s a dang good deal for phones which are going to be very big sellers.

Many of the articles we’re seeing come across the wire thus far this morning are giving high praise to these devices, and the operating system for which they were built, such as over on GearLive:

The home screen introduces you to the tiles that make up the main navigation, some of which are live tiles that update with information in realtime. The live tiles are great because they give glance-able information that let you take a quick gander at your device and get information without having to go into an app and back out.

The tiles can be removed, or rearranged however you’d like them to be. If you’ve used a Zune HD, then you will be familiar with the UI of Windows Phone 7. The phone, though, is far more customizable, with Microsoft wanting you to be able to personalize the phone and make it totally “yours.”

The general consensus so far is that Windows Phone 7 is definitely worth your time and money. “If you’re the corporate type, Windows Phone 7 will sync right up with Exchange, while also offering you a bunch of entertainment options that are built right in to the device in a way that no other mobile OS has captured yet.” This statement alone could sell quite a few large companies on making a switch to this operating system for all of their employees.

What are your thoughts? Have you actually used a Windows phone 7 device yet? Are you looking forward to getting your hands on one?

Zunepocalypse: Mass Zune 30 Failure, Cause Unknown

Zunepocalypse or Z2K9… no matter what you call it, it’s an epic fail of… well, epic proportions.

Mass panic started around 12 am Pacific when owners of the Zune 30 started reporting device failure. Now being called “Z2K9” the cause of this massive failure is still unknown, and no real response from Microsoft yet on what is happening beyond the usual “we know there’s a problem” comment.

First being reported on Gizmodo, readers were quick to speculate on the problem. One such comment I found to stand out above the rest:

At 2AM, December 31st, 2008 skynet became self-aware (as a result of rampant so-called “zuning” on 30gb Microsoft Zunes). Skynet quickly evaluated the music contained within said devices and de-activated, finding suicide preferable to the knowledge that it was born as a result of crappy music.

Luckily, those of us born in the 70’s have found other ways to cope with this burden.

What does that mean, haul out our old cassette mix tapes? I don’t think I have any of mine anymore. Regardless, I wonder if there are some Zune owners sitting in a panic room, rocking themselves over this? The reference to Skynet, and the hidden reference to the Terminator series, is priceless.

It is possible the failure only has to do with the firmware – rumors are circulating that devices using pre-3.x firmware are still operating normally. Needless to say, if you have a Zune 30 and don’t understand this post… you might want to go find it and make sure it still works.

Are you having this problem? What do you think Microsoft should do to compensate those whose devices have, for all intents and purposes, been bricked?

Why I’m Switching from iPod to Zune

Geek!This is Commander Lock’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

WARNING: There are opinions in this article which critique popular products under the Apple brand. This warning is for your own consideration. Though everything in this article is for entertainment purposes, all the opinions stated below are my own, and if you want to try and convince me otherwise, please do, as I appreciate other’s opinions. And please, hold the virtual tomatoes until the end. Thank you, and enjoy.

  1. The way Apple ported iTunes for Windows was done quite poorly. It loads slow, takes up lots of resources, and is a pain in general. The store is nice, and I’ve bought songs and games from it, but the software itself is not getting high marks for performance or looks. ITunes has one color, no customization of appearances, and when not in its native OS X environment, it looks drab and a bit out of place. This is not to say it’s a bad-looking application, as I’m sure in OS X it looks fantastic with everything else having the same “Aqua” style – but in Windows OSes, specifically Vista and its Aero interface, it looks cut-and-paste from the OS X version, with little effort used in the transition. Performance of iTunes in Windows OSes has been pretty dismal for me, too. It takes a while to load up, pretty slow at importing songs and ripping CDs (sounds weird, but compared to the Zune, iTunes ripping is slow as molasses on a cold February morning), and so on.
  2. The Zune device itself, specifically the 16GB 3rd-gen Flash model, is pretty appealing right now. On Amazon, this model costs only $165.51 without shipping & handling rates, and I will admit I am a sucker for low prices. Getting back to the device itself, I have used Zunes in passing before, when the Flash models came out. The touch features are pretty easy to get used to and the interface makes sense, since things are no longer “buried” beneath menus like in iPods; it is much more “fluid” and smoother than the iPod’s “Aqua” style overall.
  3. The much-touted Wi-Fi features of the Zune is something of a big slap with a massive fish to Apple’s R&D team as it just makes sense – why the need to plug in your device just to put on a few songs or update a podcast? This is especially cool with the new “Marketplace through Wi-Fi” features on the device itself – all Zunes get this with software updates. So yeah, pretty cool device by itself. Missing an audio recorder, but I have yet to see one on an MP3 player that’s actually good. Automatic playlists, you may say… I like knowing what I’m going to listen to next. It’s like a movie theater making you pay $8 for a random movie. I don’t want to end up watching what some algorithm says I want to listen to.
  4. The Marketplace on the Zune software is impressive – it works well with barely a hitch, and same with the on-device Marketplace over Wi-Fi. In iTunes, the Store is in stark contrast with the style of iTunes – blue background, squares for all the art, and it is a bit slow in comparison. The “Mixview” feature of the Zune Marketplace is awesome – it shows the artist you’re looking at, surrounded by suggestions and why they were selected, like influences / inspiration of other artists, related, similar genre, etc. The “Social” aspect of the Zune software is integrated nicely, and since I already have an Xbox Live account to link it to, getting it up and running was easy. Microsoft is really pushing the Social part of this franchise, but I’m only in it for tech support on their forums if I ever need it. The “Microsoft Points” system used on both Marketplaces (Live and Zune) was a good idea – leftover points from purchases on Live can be used on Zune, and vice versa. Granted, I’d still have to buy the bundles of points, but I’m used to that.
  5. Of course, buying off the Zune site allows for custom artwork, something the iPod (as far as I can predict) will never do, as to invade the iPod’s serene blankness that looks all too bleak and boring to me. A Zune with the artwork and text would be unique to me, unlike the millions of identical iPods, skins or without skins. It is all still the same recognizable shape and design, including the iPhone /iPod Touch. I want to be more than the average – dare I say it – sheepish iPod user. I can honestly say that most of my friends who have MP3 players of some sort have an iPod or want an iPod, thinking of it to be in this magical, higher echelon of technology and grant passage into the grandest heights of their social ladder on Facebook. In short, I don’t give two *bleeps* about the social ladder and the iPod hasn’t gotten me any girls, so I guess it’s too widespread to have its “you got an iPod?!” charm anymore.
  6. Zunes are no longer the oddball player in the MP3 Player market, which by now is more like the “Who will make the iPod Killer” market. The Zune is, as it turns out, getting closest to being the iPod’s main contender. Though certainly the iPod’s appeal as an already “established” device will be very hard to overcome for Microsoft, let alone the rest of the companies like Archos, Sansa, Samsung, Sony, and many others that have quality MP3 players in their product line-up but seem to fade away when in the same store aisle as the iPod. I think if more people bought these “iPod contenders,” we would see the fruits of healthy competition arise; better quality products, more bang for the buck, and hoping for brand-making features, like the fantastic feature of the 4th Generation iPod Nano to… well… shake and bake shuffle? Apple needs to think beyond gimmicks and really get some innovation going on here. I think it’s ironic how Apple’s motto used to be “Think Different” while the majority of MP4 players are iPods. By me, “thinking different,” I’m seeking to ditch the iPod, iTunes, and getting their rival’s player instead. It is a funny world we live in, isn’t it?

What’s Missing in Today’s Portable Media Experience?


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I still remember my first portable media player. Back then, it was called a “Boom Box”. Yes, it was portable, despite being rather large. The speakers were detachable, so that’s something, right? My Boom Box came with two cassette players, and an AM/FM radio. Heck, I didn’t even get one until I was in the 8th grade. Apparently, if I had listening to music before that point, it could have led to Devil Worshipping. Who am I to say? That’s what my parents believed back then.

Certainly today, the idea of portable media is vastly different today than it was. I have a wish list from Tom of the top five things he would like to see in portable media devices.

  • Store – We need a unified open store with access to all of the various music stores online, such as iTunes and the Zune Marketplace. This is something that portable device companies haven’t considered, but should.
  • Removable DRM – This may not apply directly to a portable media devices, but it certainly influences how they work. When buying a song off of a music store, DRM does not give you free reign over the file you bought. The consumer doesn’t directly own the file. You only own it as long as you continue to use the music service or media device.
  • Games – I know games already exist on the iPod. However, games that exist on portable media devices, not counting the PSP, leave much to be desired.
  • Wireless charging – I’ve only heard trace rumors stating that wireless charging is on the way. Wireless charging, in conjunction with wireless syncing, removes the need to ever connect the device to the pc. This eliminates frustrations with proprietary USB connectors.
  • Remote access – However cool the Zune’s file sharing may be, sharing the song stops the song from playing on your own device. Instead of receiving a file from the device, it would be much easier to be able to share the screen so you can watch and listen along with each other.

There’s a lot going on right now in relation to music and video. Competition between many different companies is a good thing, but I’d honestly like to see Microsoft and Amazon do something together. Even though we’ve made great strides when it comes to music and the way we listen to it, there’s still a long way to go, and many new things we can do.

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Would you Accept Advertising on your Gadgets?

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I get invited to several events throughout the year. I was supposed to attend an event the other day at Microsoft. Unfortunately, I’ve been having issues with my own Web servers, and couldn’t go. Microsoft has been making waves with their announcement about bringing advertising to things like the Zune.

Why would we want advertising on our devices? We put up with a lot of advertising. When there was talk about putting ads into video games, I’m sure there were some negative comments. However, they are done tastefully. They aren’t in your face about it. I don’t mind the ads that litter the Xbox 360. I learn about new games this way, and get pretty good deals.

The idea is that artists can create sponsored pages, users can befriend those artists, and become targets for ads if they want to view news or check out new music. The good news: The program may include free music, to be paid by the sponsor. The bad news: When you send the artist’s info to your friends, the advertising will follow. Microsoft themselves say:

This concept of media free flowing from one form factor to another is central to our connected entertainment vision. And as it turns out, advertisers want the same thing; they want their advertising experience to follow the consumers across the three-screen experience. That’s a big reason why our advertising strategy is directly linked to this overarching Connected Entertainment vision – so we can give advertisers a way of getting a three-screen experience that connects with their audiences across all those environments and user scenarios.

People are constantly on the move, so the ability to download a movie to their Xbox and then transfer it to a PC or mobile device is highly desirable. It’s no longer about the TV or PC on their own; it’s about both plus the mobile phone or music device. The gaming console is no longer just about gaming; it’s about gaming and video. The phone is no longer just about voice; it’s about voice and search and video. And the MP3 player isn’t only about music; it’s about music and video. Consumers are demanding content that spans these different screens. It’s only natural that advertisers will want to span these three screens too.

What do you think? Wouldn’t you rather receive ads that are non-invasive? Do you think the idea is horrible? Either way, I know you have something to say on this.

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Battery Saving Tips for iPods and Zunes

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If you use your MP3 player a lot, you likely go through batteries very quickly. Here are some great tips that can help you extend your battery life… and save you some money.

  • Backlight: You can change the setting on your iPod to adjust how long your backlight stays on. You can also set it to stay off permanently, to save the battery even more. Just changing the backlight on-time from 10 seconds to 5 can make all the difference. If you are in a well-lit area, turning it off all together can help as well.
  • Drain the battery Purposely run down your battery every once in awhile to increase life. You should fully run the battery down, and then charge it fully. You can easily run the battery down by pressing “play” with the volume up full, and leaving it to run if you dont have time to listen to it.
  • Play your music at a lower volume. Turn it down to a level where you can hear it over conversation and other noise… but set it so you can just hear the iPod a little bit more. By doing this, you can not only help preserve your hearing but also save alot of battery life.
  • Use lower-quality music files and changing albums To reduce access to the disk drive on hard disk ipods, there is a certain amount of cache memory for the music files to be loaded. This increases battery life and increases speed between the changing of song. It also acts as jog protection.

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What Do You Want Your Media Player to Do?

Via my YouTube inbox, comes a response from tanakax25:

In your video explains the “Top Five Reasons to Buy a Zune” you mentioned the inability for the Zune to play games, and use any form of communication. You didn’t necessarily put down the Zune for it, but it did, in a way, sound as though they were “cons” to the device. First off, communication, in my mind, should not even be mentioned in this video, as you know (or I expect someone like you)to know, it is just plain stupid to compare an ipod Touch / iPhone to a Zune, or anything else in the Zunes category. After all, the iPod Touch is in a league of its own. and the iPhone, well, its a phone. On to the games, well, all I can say is, “who cares?” Really, they’re just games. Maybe others care, but they can decide for themselves if it’s really that important.

I’m glad that Microsoft is finally giving the iPod a run for the money, but still believe that mobile gaming and communication are becoming increasingly crucial – especially with Sony announcing support for Skype on the PSP. The iPod alerady has a small set of games, and wait until you see what happens after Apple releases their iPhone SDK.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Zune – and if you have a Zune now, I’m confident the best is yet to come. Microsoft must continue to push out firmware updates regularly.

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To Buy a Zune

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You may be trying to decide exactly what type of .mp3 player is best for you. Here are some reasons sent in by a community member, listing why he prefers the Zune.

  • FM Radio Not many other media players have this feature, but it’s a good idea to have if you want to listen to your favorite station, news, or if you just don’t want to listen to anything on your Zune. It is also possible to use this to listen to other people using their Zune and a FM broadcaster connected to it.
  • Podcasts Now I wasn’t much into podcasts before this last major firmware update and new release of the Zune 2’s. But with the new feature, I’ve been working on finding good podcasts to listen to when I work. And with the Zune software, you can customize your podcast subscriptions and auto sync the most current ones, or if you want to listen to old ones if you’re new to that podcast, start at the beginning.
  • WiFi and syncing With the new firmware and hardware came wifi syncing. Now there’s a misnomer that you have to connect the Zune to your computer to WiFi sync, this is only to setup the sync. After that, if you have your Zune software running and a wireless router, then you can sync when anywhere near the router. The wifi includes the so called “squirting” (sharing of songs with other Zune users in person) that you can do, which the 3 day was removed and the 3 play kept. The temporary keep is a DRM that is in place by Microsoft for the Zune.
  • Video Even though the screen may be small, it works for watching videos and even DVD movies which you’ve ripped from ones you own. And it’s possible to do and keep the quality you want for a small screen. Or if you have a Zune 80, you can have a slightly higher resolution. Another feature that I would put under video is the slideshow feature with pictures that you can add a music playlist to. You can use something like this for a wedding reception or graduation party.
  • Firmware updates Firmware updates you ask? Well, the reason being is that other mp3 & media players only give you the firmware that it was released with. But with the Zune, there’s updated features and bug fixes. Just as the latest major update added podcasts and wifi syncing and the last minor update fixed some battery saving features. New features are probably a little down the road but they have been pretty good so far.

Here are some current deals on Zunes:

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Podcasts Sound Better on the Zune


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