Microsoft Zune: WiFi Enabled iPod Competitor

On November 14, 2006, Microsoft will start selling the new iPod competitor, Zune, at a $299 price. The display is a 3″ TFT LCD with 320 x 240 resolution: the same as most top-end Microsoft OS-based PDAs, although some have increased to 640 x 480, which is great. Back to the Zune: The audio formats that it supports are WMA, MP3 and AAC. Zune also displays pictures in JPEG format and movies in WMV, MPEG4 and H.264 formats. The initial version of Zune will have a 30GB hard disk and come in White, Black and Brown colors. Some websites refer to the Brown color as Chocolate. Unlike the iPods and more like other MP3 players, the Zune comes with a FM radio built-in. There is also a TV output. With the existence of WiFi, you can broadcast what you are listening to in DJ Mode and share files between Zunes that lasts for 3 days and 3 playbacks. A dedicated music download site is available for the Zune as well.

Overall, I like the way the Zune player looks and it seems like the user interface (UI) is a bit more polished than the candy-plasticky-looking one in the iPods. I really like the WiFi and look forward to enhanced WiFi-based connectivity in the future. For instance, with Apple’s iTV announcement, a WiFi-enabled Zune-like player could interface directly with the iTV instead of going through a computer or even a WiFi router. I have heard Microsoft is planning Zune-based cell phones, but I would rather it try to tackle the market where the Sony MYLO is playing first.

FYI: There is already a Zune Video Converter that converts AVI, MPEG, WMV, MOV, RM, RMVB, DivX, ASF, VOB, 3GP, APE to Zune.

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