Here’s a juicy rumor: could Microsoft be working on a portable gadget that combines the Xbox 360 with the Zune? Maybe!
The project, codenamed “xYz,” is said to feature a WVGA touchscreen and a way to play music and movies on both the device as well as the Xbox 360. Basically, it’s going to be a connected handheld gaming system with rich multimedia features. Sounds interesting, but will it actually come to exist? Time will tell.
Just as vinyl once gave way to compact discs as the main physical medium for music, could CDs be replaced now by a fingernail-sized memory card? Perhaps not entirely, but SanDisk, four major record labels and retailers Best Buy and Wal-Mart Stores were expected to unveil plans Monday to sell memory cards loaded with music in the MP3 format, free of copy protections.
While everybody is all a-twitter about Apple’s announcements of new iPods and other stuff happening in just a couple of hours, the first rollouts we heard about due today were from Microsoft, accidentally leaking word a month ago of a laser-less Blue Track Mouse. Now it’s official that the Redmondians will also show off a new webcam, and the star of the show will be an updated Zune.
Unlike the secretive Apple, Microsoft revealed the details of its new Zunes ahead of time, confirming new features before today’s launch of the Fall Zune line. Microsoft will expand its hard-drive Zune music player’s capacity to 120GB ($249), its flash drive-based Zune moves up to 16GB ($199), and the Zune now catches up to the iPod touch with the ability to download songs via Wi-Fi.
An intriguing new feature is a recommendation engine based on the songs you’ve been listening to. We’re also digging the inclusion of one of our staff fave games, Texas Hold ‘Em, to the player.
We just got some hands-on time with the new iPod touch, and we’re really feeling this one. Jury’s still out on the new nano, but the second-gen touch is a marked improvement over the first gen model. The WiFi antenna looks much better integrated, the speaker doesn’t sound like complete trash despite not even having any speaker holes, and the thing is crazy thin. Like, really, really thin.
Gallery: iPod touch 2G – first hands-on
You’ve seen the PR, now check the videos. The zunitedcommunity just posted four introductory videos straight outta Redmond — three demonstrate the new WiFi Marketplace, buy from FM, and Channel features in the 3.0 firmware while the fourth demonstrates the updated desktop software with new Zune mix, improved Now Playing view, and new Picks view auto-populated to reflect your listening habits. CNET News also had the chance to get some hands-on time courtesy of Zune’s Joe Belfiore. Joe confirms that WiFi access to Marketplace only works from hotspots that don’t require a browser-based login (duh) while once again hinting at future Xbox and Zune integration since “both stores are based on the same technology.” He also confirms that the 3.0 firmware will work with all Zune devices as we expected. Curiously, when asked about accessing your Zune music collection from a phone, Joe responded by saying, “that’s another really interesting device that you may someday see us do work on but nothing that we’re announcing here today.” Funny response since CNET asked him about accessing Zune music from a phone, not a Zune phone. See all five videos after the break.
[Via Zunited, thanks Ryan and Milo]
As it turns out, Microsoft may be breaking a few hearts by not being able to fulfill all its Zune 80 Valentine’s Day Originals shipments, but not all is lost for their loving customers. Users who haven’t already gotten their units will apparently get a full refund — as well the player they ordered. Aw, isn’t that candy-heart sweet? And should you wind up with one of these for V-Day, you might try every so gingerly asking for dinner with that $250 your special someone saved.
Just so everyone knows. I am kinda sick of my iPod dying around 2 years after buying it. The worst part is that several of my friends iPods died at the same time. All of course were purchase around the same time.
So i can say that i decided to switch, and for my b-day, which just two day after Valentines and got a Red Zune.
Lets hope it does not die in 2 years… But do i really need 80 GB?
AT&T’s LG Shine isn’t the only thing going red for Valentine’s Day this year. Microsoft’s recent Apple rip-off TV commercials seemed to be a bit of a Band-Aid approach to marketing its Zune PMP. Pehaps this is part of the Washington wonder’s game plan however, as they announced earlier this week that the 80GB Zune would be available in a lovely shade of red for Valentine’s Day. Available for a limited time through Microsoft’s Zune Originals website, the red Zune’s price tag remains unaffected at $250. Zune Originals also allows buyers to choose from 20 new VDay-related designs that can be laser-etched onto the back of the player. Customers can even download a variety of lovey-dovey tracks that can be shared Zune to Zune or via the Zune SoNet. Microsoft has put a lot of effort into their Valentine’s Day offering this year and hopefully by taking advantage of it, you’ll be one step closer to getting exactly what you want for Vday.
Sooloos high-fidelity music server, $12,000, sooloos.com
Crunchgear’s description of the new Sony E series Walkman DAP is spot on: Like USB Drives That Play Music – it’s exactly what the new player from Sony is all about. They come in three versions, 1GB, 2GB and 4GB of storage – all of them available in black, pink and blue.
Sony E Series Walkman DAPs: Like USB Drives That Play Music [Crunchgear.com]
You can’t throw a Bluetooth earpiece without hitting a music phone these days, but Nokia’s latest multimedia phone adds something new to the field. What’s the word I’m looking for…? A turn? A spin? In any case, if you want to fire up music, video, or the 2-megapixel camera onboard the XpressMusic 5700, you just rotate the keypad. That’s quite a… um, bend? Loop-de-loop? I don’t know.
The 3G phone uses a an microSD card for storage, with a 2-GB card getting you about 1,500 songs. Possibly notable is its ability to play music protected with Windows Media Digital Rights Management (WM DRM) as well as MP3, AAC and MP4 files. “Stereo” speakers are built right in, and you get some no doubt really crappy earphones in the package, so you’ll probably be more inclined to use a pair of Bluetooth headphones (which probably aren’t included, despite some photographic clues) since, hey, you can with this baby.
The XpressMusic comes to Europe this spring and will cost 350 euros. No plans for any U.S. gigs at this time. Check out another pic of the XpressMusic after the jump.