Microsoft unveils Zune 2 and Flash Zune

Microsoft Zune 2 family

As expected (if a bit later than I would have guessed), Microsoft unveiled its new Zune lineup, consisting of two hard-drive based models and two flash models.

The Zune 80 comes with an 80GB hard drive. Smaller and thinner (61.1 x 108.2 x 12.9mm) than the first generation Zune, it comes with a 3.2-inch display (up from 3-inches), it will initially come only in black. The original 30GB Zune will also remain but will feature the redesigned user interface that the Zune 80 has.

On the flash side, the Zune 4 and 8 are as expected 4GB and 8GB capacity models. They will come with 1.8-inch screens and will be available in green, pink, red, and black.

All the new Zunes will use the Zune Pad, described as an innovative touch-sensitive button for navigating on the device but essentially a four-way d-pad.

There are a number of enhancements (that first generation Zune players will also get in a firmware update) under the skin too: Two new native video codecs for h.264 and MPEG-4, the ability to sync video from a Media Center PC, podcast support and the removal of the three day DRM restriction on shared songs. You will also be able to use Wi-Fi to sync back to the host computer. Unfortunately, there is no Wi-Fi Zune Marketplace.

Speaking of the Zune Marketplace, about a million tracks will now be offered without any DRM. Its catalog is up to about 3 million tracks and thousands of music videos will now also be available. The Zune Pass also remains.

The new Zunes will ship in November. The Zune 4 and Zune 8 will sell for US$149.99 and US$199.99 respectively while the Zune 30 and Zune 80 will go for US$199 and US$249.99 respectively. A number of accessories will also be offered.

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