Monday, September 18, 2006

Wal-Mart Leaks Zune Price

We've got a good idea as to the Zune pricetag, though we're still no closer to a specific launch date. By the time we got to the Zune's product page, the pricing info had been removed, but it can still be spotted in the MP3 player category listing at a lean $284 flat. Of course, Wal-Mart likes to skim as much as they can off the MSRP -- they're charging $147.88 for a 1GB iPod nano instead of Apple's nice round $150 figure -- but a whole $16 shy of the magic $300 number we were expecting Microsoft to hit isn't too shabby. Rumors still abound as to why we still don't have a solid figure from Microsoft on pricing. Some believe it has something to do with the "bombshell" of Apple's recent iPod price drop, so Wal-Mart potentially be off the mark with this $284 of theirs, but we'll give their soon-to-be-fired database lackey the benefit of the doubt.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Zune Official Specs

To wrap it up, here are the official specs and opinions:
  • 4.4 x 2.4 x 0.58-inch footprint (vs 30GB iPod's 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.43-inches, and 80GB iPod's 0.55-inch thickness -- trust us, on a device like this a tenth of an inch is a huge difference)
  • 5.6 ounces (vs iPod's 4.8 and 5.5 ounces for the 30 and 80GB models)
  • WiFi is 802.11b/g, photo is JPEG only (right now)
  • Zunes and their users will have names -- Zunetags -- building off the phenomenal success of Xbox Live model.
  • Faster charge time than an iPod, but still no quoted battery life. It will not be user replaceable.
  • Nope, no price or release on the device or anything Marketplace related -- which they told us yesterday they wouldn't be releasing (yet).

Web Opinions:

  • Zune supposedly won't be taking advantage of the device's video capabiilties by selling TV shows this year, nor will it play Media Center video files (DVR-MS files, we take that to mean).
  • Microsoft went with brown on one of the three Zunes because "artists would and musicians would." We're not going to lie, some of us around here like it (key word: some).
  • Zune will be backing concerts and shows, and is really working with the music influencer angle.
  • The 3x3 DRM layer (share a song for three plays over three days) will supposedly wrap files of any supported type (MP3, AAC, etc.) in DRM during the transfer.
And that's it folks. To tell you the truth, I'll be buying my own personal one in brown, there's just something about that colour!

Zune: The Beast is Here

Not a lot of surprises in the specs department, but they've confirmed the basics we've known for a while, like WiFi, 30GB of HDD, built-in FM, a 3-inch screen and the basic music, pictures and video playback. They also finally let slip the screen res -- an unsurprising QVGA -- and some better news on the codec front: the Zune supports h.264, MP3, AAC and WMA. As for ballyhoo, wireless Zune-to-Zune sharing is where the real action is at, and it works pretty much like we've been hearing: you can share a full-length track with a friend, and they've got three times to listen to it over a three day period, after which they can flag the song for purchase on the Zune Marketplace -- unless they're an unlimited "Zune Pass" subscriber, of course. You can also share playlists and pictures with your buddies, along with what we suppose are "unprotected" homemade recordings.

So far Microsoft isn't mentionin
g Live Anywhere functionality, but they do hint heavily at future software updates to take even better advantage of the wireless capabilities. Of course, it all really comes down to matching your Zune with that snazzy new fall wardrobe of yours, and to that end the Zune comes in black, brown and white. Sadly, Microsoft still won't spill the beans on pricing and availability (other than a vague "this holiday season"), so we'll keep an eye out for that just like always.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Zune Poised to Make First Appearence Tomorrow!

Finally! According to Seattle Weekly, the suits at Redmond are finally ready to unveil their closely-guarded pet project to the world at an invite-only press event, where the WiFi-sportin', video-playin', friend-makin' Zune will have its first public appearance. Since we already know so much, though, what can we really expect to learn at the press conference? Well we'll be looking out for the little things, such as codec and DRM support, definitive pricing and release information, whether or not Bill G will make an appearance in a black turtleneck, and most importantly, what kind of headphones will be bundled in the package -- oh wait, we know that too.

For those of you who missed the specs of Zune, here's what we're expecting:

$299.99 pricetag
Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g) connectivity

30 GB Hard Drive

3.75 inch video LCD

White, Black, and Chocolate Colors

FM Radio
TV output connectivity
Dedicated song download site
DJ Mode (broadcast what you are listening to)

After Apple's disspointing new generation iPods, Zune has a great chance to capitalize and sweep those in dismay from the lackluster new iPod. Not that the iPod isn't good, but when rumours are going around of a new, truly video PMP, an iPhone and such, the old, normal, boring deisgn of the flagship 5.5G iPod just doesn't cut it anymore. Time will tell!

As the Zune release date approaches keep the site bookmarked Ctrl +D for the latest news, information and where to buy Zune for yourself

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Iriver S10 - Redefining Cool

Moments after the new iPods were released, we got wind of the new iRiver S10. We loved the U10 to bits and gushed about the E10. iriver's D-Click interface always gets us flustered… in a good way. Stunningly tiny, it's just 1.9g heavier than the new shuffle And unlike a lot of tiny MP3 players that fluff on the physical controls with Lilliputian buttons, the D-Click system will make navigating plain sailing. But unlike the U10 and E10, there will be no flash or video support on the S10. What iriver seems to be doing here is to export the U10 form factor onto its popular N-series of pendant MP3 players. Good move there. But who will take on the mantle of the new mini fashion queen? The shuffle or the S10? Only time will tell. Watch this space for more details to come.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New 2G Nano A Nice Improvement

As expected, Apple's hot-selling iPod Nano has been given a big-time update with some flashy colors, new capacities, better displays, better batteries, and new pricing. They all sport an even-thinner aluminum case and are available in (again, mini-like) green, silver, black, blue, and pink. However, the 2GB and 8GB version are available in aluminum and black only, respectively.

As for pricing, $149 for 2GB, $199 for 4GB, and $249 for the 8GB model. Apple says: "Double the storage for the same price," and they're available today. What's more, the new packaging is 52% less volumetric than the old iPod nano, making it "environmentally friendly." Expect to see tons of these on the subway by next week.

Very nice, Apple. It seems that they are taking out the Creative Neeon 2 / MicroPhoto niche with the array of colours. I just can't see anyone taking a significant chunk of Apple's marketshare, at least not until ZUNE arrives...

iPod Shuffle 2G - A Step Up

After the initial dissapointment of the 5.5G, the new 2G shuffle was revealed. After having sold 10 million of the first-gen shuffles, the new model is the size of the iPod radio remote, as if Apple cut the old shuffle in half and shaved some excess of too! It comes in just a 1GB capacity, and sports a shiny new aluminum body with a clip for easy wearability. This thing is truly groundbreaking, an unbelievably small DAP that really must be seen to be believed. Steve's calling it the "world's smallest MP3 player" and hey, who are we to argue? It's available for preorder today and expected to ship with its itty bitty dock and ear buds sometime in October, for the bargain basement price of only $79.

The new 5.5G iPod Arrives...

...And I am dissapointed to say the least. After all the hype and publicity this things been getting, you'd think Apple would offer their customers something new and groundbreaking, similar to what the 1G did a few short years ago. Don't give up hope though, apparantely the "Real" next generation iPod is dropping next year, but I'm not holding my breath. Nevertheless, a few key improvements have been made to the new 5.5G The screen is now 60% brighter, the battery can last up to 3.5 hours during video playback, and the iPod includes new headphones, but otherwise the specs remain the same. As for software, the iPod is finally getting gapless playback, text-based search and brightness controls, along with a whole slew of games. The 'Pod has Bejeweled, Cubis 2, Mahjong, Mini Golf, Pac Man, Tetris, Texas Hold 'Em, Vortex, and Zuma bundled, and you can nab new games for $5 each off of iTunes. Maybe the best news is that Apple is dropping the prices and bumping the storage: you can get a spankin' new 30GB iPod for $250, and the new 80 gigger for $350. No word yet on availability.

Kenwood Adds a Digital Amp to their Media Keg DAP

So if you are familiar with good sound, you'll know that many high quality headphones need a good amp to properly power them, and this doesn't just mean turning the volume up. For those of us who don't wan't to lug around a cMoy or Pav2, Kenwood may have just made our life easier by including a digital amp in their new DAP.

The main difference between this new version and its predecessors is a snazzy new digital amp to boost the audiophile quotient. The 30GB player supports Kenwood's proprietary lossless codec, and can be managed via WMP10 (PlaysForSure is a go) or Kenwood's included software. There's also a new black color, but the case design remains otherwise identical. All that said, we're not likely to see this one in the States anyways -- it should be out in Japan this October for 50,000 Yen (about $430 US).

iBreath, Your iPod-Powered Breathalyzer

You know that people are trying to jump on the iPod bandwagon when someone releases a breathalyzer that connects to the ubiquitous music player. Yes, David Steele Enterprises has just released an iBreath ($50, black or white color), a small device to plug into the dock connector of your iPod. Sticking out of the side of the device is the breathalyzer tube, and within five seconds it'll read out your blood alchohol content level, accurate to within 0.01 BAC -- oh and if that wasn't enough, it doubles as an FM transmitter for your car stereo. Not bad for $50.

Friday, September 08, 2006

New Teclast TL-T29 Media Player is Quite Elegant

The newest portabe media player to come out of China is one from Telecast. This time it's the TL-T29 -- this superslim player measures 2.8 x 1.6 x 0.3 inches, sports a flash drive (1, 2 or 4GB) with a 220 x 176 display and has a whopping 24 hours of audio playback time. No word on price or if you can get it anywhere outside the Zhongguancun district in Beijing, where CNET Asia found it. Maybe if these things were to cross the Pacific, then we'd have some real competition in this sector.

Apple Unveils New Products September 12th

There will be an Apple special event one week from today, on September 12, at 10:00AM Pacific (1:00PM Eastern, 5:00PM GMT) at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in downtown San Francisco -- coinciding exactly with the opening day of the Apple Expo in Paris. Now for those of you keeping score at home, we may or may not see an updated nano a new version of iTunes, a new a new iMac and possibly movie downloads on iTunes. Mark this one on your calender folks.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New SAFA SS200 Series DAP

The SS220 is a bit of a mystery. In addition to featuring touch-based controls and a built-in speaker, we know it's capable of splashing a range of unspecified video, photo, and text formats up onto its tiny 1.5-inch screen. It also packs in an FM tuner just in case the few reticent GBs of audio dumped to flash can't slake your jones. We know a bit more about the other player -- the SS200 -- a 71 x 48 x 12-mm wafer with a 2-inch, 260k color, 220 x 176 pixel display. The SS200 is capable of 6/8-hours of video/audio playback with support for MP3, WMA, and WAV media formats.

Monday, September 04, 2006

HP's New iPAQ rx4000 Buys into the Widescreen Craze

HP seems to be going after a consumer dollar with this device, with a $300 pricetag, but the specs aren't terrible. The rx4000 features a 2.8-inch screen which runs in landscape or portrait mode, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and is naturally a full-fledged Pocket PC with support for VoIP software and Microsoft Office apps if you're feeling in a productive mood. Of course, the "Mobile Media Companion" moniker reveals the proposed functionality of the device, and between the media player support, nifty scroll wheel and decent screen the rx4000 shouldn't go far wrong there. Unfortunately, HP has so far only announced an October launch in Asia, so there's no telling when or if we might get this little guy in the States. There's also no word on internal storage -- a few gigabytes of flash memory wouldn't go far wrong here -- but we're guessing it isn't anything much if HP has decided not to mention it in their press release.

Sansa Base Station Dock with Remote

Although not ground-breaking, this hyped docking station is a very usable dock and remote for your sansa player. It includes a USB 2.0 and RCA jack, remote control, and a "universal connector" which makes use of the bottom jack on the e200 and c200 players for charging. It'll set you back $70, and willl be available by October in the both the US and Europe.