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View Full Version : Storage Matters: The Zune's 30 GB Toshiba Hard Drive


Jason Dunn
08-25-2006, 10:27 PM
<img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/zt/2006/fcc-zune-hard-drive.jpg" alt="" /><br /><br />Pictured above is the 1.8 inch Toshiba hard drive that, according to the FCC documents at least, is going to come in the Zune when it's released later this year (I should note that Toshiba is making the Zune for Microsoft, in case earlier posts weren't clear on that point). The size of the hard drive is 30 gigabytes, and I wanted to discuss that for a moment. The question is, is 30 GB big enough for the first Zune on the market? According to a <a href="http://weblogs.jupiterresearch.com/analysts/gartenberg/archives/002789.html" target="_blank">2004 study by Jupiter Research</a>, 90% of people who have a digital music collection have less than 1000 songs. Two and a half years later, one could bet that number has risen - let's be generous and say it has doubled and the average consumer has a music collection of around 2000 songs. Let's say roughly 3 MB per song (again, over-shooting the size a bit) and we have around 6000 MB of total storage required.<br /><br />But wait, you say, what about video? That's something that is a bit of a mystery - I'm not aware of any consumer studies involving how much of a digital video collection people have, and how much of that they'd want to take with them on a device. I'd be willing to bet that it's not very big. Let's factor in another 2000 MB of video files, giving us 8 GB of total media storage. [If those numbers seem small, remember that by reading this site, you're not average by any means.]<br /><br />Where am I going with this? Even though as an early-adopter type, 30 GB doesn't impress me much and I'd love to see more storage, I think the Zune team knows 30 GB is the sweet spot between keeping the price of the Zune low and the amount of storage the average consumer needs. Toshiba makes an <a href="http://sdd.toshiba.com/main.aspx?Path=810000000007000000010000659800000001/810000000B0C000000010000659C000026BD" target="_blank">80 GB drive</a> that would fit in the Zune, but it would drive up the overall cost of the Zune. <br /><br />Here's what I think Microsoft should do: release a high-end version of the Zune in parallel with the 30 GB Zune, say a &quot;Zune Extreme&quot;, that has a massive 80 GB drive. Why? Several reasons. First, it would trump the current iPod lineup by 20 GB. The Zune is going head to head with the iPod - make no mistake about it. For early adopters, the people willing to take a chance on an unknown product, specs matter. Early adopters are also less price-sensitive than mainstream consumers (these are the people who drop <a href="http://www.mobileplanet.com/product.asp?code=126948" target="_blank">$900 USD on a Qtek 9000</a>), so even if the 80 GB Zune sold for $449 I think people who want the most high-end Zune they can get would pay for it. Early tech adopters also tend to be quite different from the average consumer with their media collections, so in many ways 30 GB just won't cut it for these users.<br /><br />Will the Zune only come in a 30 GB version? Right now, it's looking like it. We'll have to watch the FCC for more documents, because if there is another version, it will go through the same clearance process the first one did. What do you think - would you be willing to pay $449 USD for an 80 GB Zune?

saru7755
08-26-2006, 04:03 AM
if the price difference is not more than 20% than the 30GB then i would pay for the 80GB

jerboa
08-26-2006, 04:29 AM
What do you think - would you be willing to pay $449 USD for an 80 GB Zune?

Much more important than an extra 20GB over an iPod will be how the Microsoft music store and the Zune interface work. If they are a significant improvement over Apple's, then maybe I will consider it.

Philip Colmer
08-26-2006, 04:39 PM
From my perspective, I think that I would be likely to watch video and then delete it, whereas audio is likely to hang around longer 'cos you tend to listen to music over & over again.

So, on that basis, I'm not sure that 30GB is a particular problem. PVRs in the UK typically come with 40GB drives and that is for 20 hours of SD files. Something like the Zune, because of its smaller screen size, is going to be able to compress the files much better, so you'll get several hours of video onto that drive.

--Philip

mcsouth
08-26-2006, 05:31 PM
Personally, I've never been particularly keen on the idea of a hard-drive based player - probably for illogical reasons. My fear is that, with a houseful of young kids, my unit would get dropped on the floor once, and would then be a pile of junk, due to a failed hard drive. Yes, I know that the greatest risk would be as a result of dropping it when it is actually playing, but the fact remains that I perceive hard drive based players to be fragile.

Of course, that leaves flash-based players as my alternative, but things are promising with the Sandisk 8GB flash player - finally a reasonable amount of space for songs, photos, videos, etc. So, do we think that MS is considering a flash-based player as part of their strategy?

Philip Colmer
08-26-2006, 05:39 PM
Another area that might affect whether or not this is enough storage is going to be connectivity.

Will you be able to use it as a USB-connected harddrive & store files on it?

Will future models ('cos I don't think this one does) have inputs for microphone and, even better, video in? Possibly a bit of a stretch for these but it would be nice.

--Philip

rvacha
08-26-2006, 05:44 PM
Flash is a tough call methinks. Flash can't hold much data and would limit the video usability of the unit. Second issue I see is that if it did support video then it would need a large battery and the unit's size would be relatively large compared to other devices. It would be even larger if it supported WiFi as well. On the other hand, MS would be silly not to cover all the bases if they really want to make a dent in the iPod space. I look for MS to do a flash player with video and WiFi stripped out - and I'd further guess that it would not be called Zune to avoid market confusion. But that's all conjecture on my part.

mcsouth
08-26-2006, 11:24 PM
Flash is a tough call methinks. Flash can't hold much data and would limit the video usability of the unit.

I'm confused about why you believe that flash would limit the video usability of the unit - is it just because of the relative size of flash memory units relative to audio and video file sizes?

I currently have a 2gb SD card in my PPC, have 3 full-length movies on the card in Divx format, and they play just fine without issues on the unit. Battery life averages about 1 to 1-1/2 movies on one charge, which is somewhat limiting, but then it is an iPaq 4150 (very compact) without the extended battery. Oh, and the 2gb SD card? It isn't half full yet, and has lots of other programs and music loaded on it as well.

As a result, I'm not sure that I buy the idea that a flash-based player couldn't be a good video and music player, although in my opinion, I wouldn't buy a player smaller than 4gb if I was considering putting video on it. Sandisk has released an 8gb player - how long until a 16gb player is released? I, for one, would prefer that over a 30gb hard-disk based player.

ucfgrad93
08-27-2006, 03:53 AM
Much more important than an extra 20GB over an iPod will be how the Microsoft music store and the Zune interface work. If they are a significant improvement over Apple's, then maybe I will consider it.

I agree completely. This is the big question that will determine the success or failure of the Zune. Say what you want about the iPod and iTunes, they do work great and you don't need to be a techno-geek to use it.

Jason Dunn
08-27-2006, 06:09 AM
Much more important than an extra 20GB over an iPod will be how the Microsoft music store and the Zune interface work.

Indeed, for the average consumer, this is much more important than extra storage. But for the early adopters out there, music library UI isn't quite as important. Long term though, it's absolutely critical - the Zune music library app HAS to be better than Windows Media Player!

Jason Dunn
08-27-2006, 06:13 AM
Personally, I've never been particularly keen on the idea of a hard-drive based player - probably for illogical reasons.

Hard drives are MUCH more durable than they used to be, and honestly, people drop their iPods all the time (just think about how many are in the market) and I've never heard of an iPod dying from a failed hard drive due to damage. I'm sure it happens, but mobile hard drives are much tougher than they used to be.

So, do we think that MS is considering a flash-based player as part of their strategy?

Yes, apparently there will be a Flash-base Zune player in 2007 - I imagine the Zune will compete with the iPod offerings on all fronts, meaning a big hard drive player (iPod), a smaller Flash-based player (Nano), and perhaps even a REALLY small flash player (Shuffle).

Jason Dunn
08-27-2006, 06:14 AM
Sandisk has released an 8gb player - how long until a 16gb player is released? I, for one, would prefer that over a 30gb hard-disk based player.

I think "Flash memory" and "video" haven't gone together before now because of storage limitations. If you have 4GB of storage, putting a 300 MB video file on there us using up a LOT of space. 8 GB, less of an issue. 16 GB by the end of this year or early next...not so hard to envision putting video on that. It will happen.

ucfgrad93
08-27-2006, 02:23 PM
I think "Flash memory" and "video" haven't gone together before now because of storage limitations. If you have 4GB of storage, putting a 300 MB video file on there us using up a LOT of space. 8 GB, less of an issue. 16 GB by the end of this year or early next...not so hard to envision putting video on that. It will happen.

True, but what are the costs going to be? Flash memory is more expensive than a hard drive. This is going to cause flash drive players to grow more slowly than hard drive players.

mcsouth
08-27-2006, 02:37 PM
True, but what are the costs going to be? Flash memory is more expensive than a hard drive. This is going to cause flash drive players to grow more slowly than hard drive players.
I agree that this is the case today, but the differential IS shrinking. Case in point - I picked up a 2gb SD card for $40 a few weeks ago, and now 4gb SD cards can be had for under $70 retail. SD cards in particular have been dropping in price steadily over the years, and seem to have really dropped in recent months. I like the idea some vendors have of including an SD or micro SD slot in their flash player so that extra storage can be added as desired. I still think a 16gb or larger flash based player would not have to be cost prohibitive, based on current pricing trends.

Aaron Roma
08-28-2006, 12:38 PM
True, but what are the costs going to be? Flash memory is more expensive than a hard drive. This is going to cause flash drive players to grow more slowly than hard drive players.

The new flash memory currently being developed will be offer higher capacities at significantly lower costs.

daS
08-29-2006, 10:56 PM
I think that a more important consideration than the size of the hard drive as it ships will be whether the drive is replaceable or if the case is hot staked shut.

Regardless of the improvements in hard drive reliability - all drives eventually die. Over the life of each of my laptops/tablet PCs, I have replaced the hard drives at least two times in each unit. Always with a higher capacity drive.

So if the Zune's case is closed with screws, then the consumer won't feel they are buying a "throw away" item and the 30GB capacity will be less of a consideration.

Jason Dunn
08-30-2006, 03:44 PM
I think that a more important consideration than the size of the hard drive as it ships will be whether the drive is replaceable or if the case is hot staked shut.

While that sounds appealing to me as a geek (I'd love to slap an 80 GB drive in there!), it's absolutely, positively, and utterly not a factor for the general consumer. User-replacable batteries don't even seem to matter to most people (even though they should), but swapping out hard drives? Nah. People will just buy a new one. Part of that is the cost of the unit (as in, it's not very expensive) and part is simply that most people don't know how to put a new hard drive in their computer, let alone upgrade a consumer electronis device.

Alvester
09-15-2006, 06:57 PM
$449 sounds fair to me for 80 Gbs as long as the sound quality were to be commensurate with that price. On top of that I'd pay even more if the screen were somehow larger without making the device itself larger.

Even at that, a $449 list price with a bit of patience usually will come down to under $400 as the newness wears off.

Jason Dunn
09-15-2006, 07:27 PM
$449 sounds fair to me for 80 Gbs as long as the sound quality were to be commensurate with that price. On top of that I'd pay even more if the screen were somehow larger without making the device itself larger.

It's funny though, with Apple offering an 80 GB iPod for $349, that would be the max price limit for a bigger Zune. There's no way Microsoft can release a 30 GB Zune for $299 as what rumoured - I'm betting they'll launch it at $249 to be in parity with the iPod. $199 would let them really make a splash, but I doubt it.

Regarding a Zune with a larger screen, well, remember the Zune is a platform and Microsoft has always talked about multiple devices - so who knows? I can see them doing one and really playing up the movies/indy film angle.

Alvester
09-29-2006, 01:03 AM
I'm going to wait for a larger hard drive in it and ONLY if the Zune will do WMA lossless. 30 Gbs is deal-breaker for us. My wife and I are both musicians that travel a lot so 30 Gbs is way to small. Sometimes we are on tour for nearly a month and we have to have a LOT of our music and would like extra space for our TivoToGo files.

If Archos can put out a 160 Gb device (the new 504) then surely Microsoft can do the same. Until then I'm sticking with my Gigabeat S60 and will be getting another one for my wife for Christmas. The Zune's capacity is just too small and the "closed" system of its marketplace is lacking. Most notably I haven't heard any mention of WMA Lossless downloads.

192 Kbps just doesn't cut it for all applications. On a portable with average headphones it's OK but I want to be able to enjoy the music on the home system too and 192 Kbps can't compare to WMA Lossless.

RichiePops
04-27-2007, 12:51 AM
Hi, i removed my zune's hard drive from the system because the usb connection on the bottom of the zune broke. if looking for some kind of adapter for it so i can use it as a usb drive. i just need one so it doesnt go to waste. please reply!!!

Jason Dunn
04-28-2007, 12:34 AM
if looking for some kind of adapter for it so i can use it as a usb drive. i just need one so it doesnt go to waste. please reply!!!

It sounds like you just need to buy a new cable (http://www.rapidrepair.com/shop/3056-microsoft-zune-usb-cable.html) - though if the input plug is broken, this won't help you...you can't connect a Zune is the input is busted.

RichiePops
04-28-2007, 02:22 AM
i ended up destroying the zune while removing the hard drive. im looking for an adapter that can be be attached directly to the hard drive's ribbon cable to i can use it as a usb hard drive for my xbox 360. i wasnt looking to fix the zune, but to make use of its now removed hard drive. im not looking for it to be a zune again, but simply a storage device.

Jason Dunn
05-02-2007, 05:12 AM
im looking for an adapter that can be be attached directly to the hard drive's ribbon cable to i can use it as a usb hard drive for my xbox 360.

Try something like this (http://cgi.ebay.ca/USB-2-0-To-IDE-2-5-3-5-Cable-Power-Adaper-CICU_W0QQitemZ290110284572QQihZ019QQcategoryZ39967QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem) then...

RichiePops
05-05-2007, 01:22 AM
the zune's hard drive isn't ide though... how would this work? have you even seen the zune's ribbon cable?:confused:

Jason Dunn
05-07-2007, 09:20 PM
the zune's hard drive isn't ide though... how would this work? have you even seen the zune's ribbon cable?:confused:

No, I haven't actually - you're saying you can't remove the Zune's ribbon cable and just end up with a bare drive?