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Vincent Ferrari
05-27-2009, 05:00 PM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://www.zune.net/en-us/press/2009/0526-zunehd.htm' target='_blank'>http://www.zune.net/en-us/press/200...0526-zunehd.htm</a><br /><br /></div><p><em>"Microsoft Corp. today announced the evolution of Zune, the company&rsquo;s end-to-end music and entertainment service, to a new platform and new markets. Zune will extend its video service to Xbox LIVE internationally this fall. This marks an important development in the Zune strategy and brings the Zune brand to more than 17 million international Xbox LIVE subscribers. In addition, Microsoft confirmed the next generation of the Zune portable media player, Zune HD. Available in the U.S. this fall, Zune HD is the first portable media player that combines a built-in HD Radio receiver, high-definition (HD) video output capabilities, organic light-emitting diode (OLED) touch screen, Wi-Fi and an Internet browser. &ldquo;The Zune music player is an integral part of the overall Zune experience, and we&rsquo;re proud to be growing and extending our offering beyond the device,&rdquo; said Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president of the Microsoft TV, Video and Music Business Group. &ldquo;Delivering on Microsoft&rsquo;s connected entertainment vision, this news marks a turning point for Zune as it brings cross-platform experiences and premium video content to living rooms around the world.&rdquo;"</em></p><p><img height="320" src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/at/auto/1243424230.usr18053.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" width="503" /></p><p>If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's not to worry too much about specs and wait until the device is in hand to test it out.&nbsp; Microsoft releasing their iPod Touch competitor (finally, after almost three years) doesn't impress me.&nbsp; Microsoft's labelling of it as "HD" doesn't impress me because there's nothing "HD" about it.&nbsp; The resolution on the screen isn't HD (Not even close), and for the most part, if radio stations are multicasting their "HD" station, the quality is nearly indistinquishable from standard FM radio.&nbsp; The only thing HD about the Zune HD is when you hook it up to a dock to play your HD content on an HD TV.</p><p>Oh yeah, and buying one locks you into one OS and, in the case of the marketplace, a very limited number of countries.&nbsp; In the year 2009.&nbsp; How quaint.</p><p>I'll wait until I see one in person because specs are specs and rarely translate into anything meaningful in the real world. I'm just disappointed that Microsoft went the "HD" route with it because the Zune HD has as much relevance to HD as the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Flyer" target="_blank">Radio Flyer has to radio</a>.</p><p>Of course, if you're a fan or think you might be, our sister site <a href="http://www.zunethoughts.com/" target="_blank">Zune Thoughts</a> will be providing exhaustive coverage so head over and check them out!</p>

Janak Parekh
05-27-2009, 07:19 PM
The other interesting variable is: What does this mean for the Zune (and Windows Mobile) as distinct platforms? Will there be a developer API for the Zune (and, if not, isn't that a huge mistake)? If so, will that dilute WM as the Microsoft PDA brand? Also, what does this mean for media on WM? Microsoft still doesn't quite have a good answer to the iPhone.

All that said, I hope the HD is a success. Competition is a good thing. However, there aren't enough details released today to be able to determine that. I'm actually kind of surprised Microsoft preannounced the HD this far ahead. I understand that they want people to "hold out" for the Zune over whatever Apple may launch in the next few months, but won't they Osborne (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osborne_Effect) their own devices? Will people buy Zunes if they know the next-gen is right around the corner?

--janak

doogald
05-27-2009, 07:46 PM
but won't they Osborne (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osborne_Effect) their own devices? Will people buy Zunes if they know the next-gen is right around the corner?

People are buying Zunes? ;) :p :D

Janak Parekh
05-27-2009, 08:00 PM
People are buying Zunes? ;) :p :D Okay, rephrase. ;) Many of the vocal Zune fans who prefer it over an iPod tend to be the technical-Windows-user-type. If I was in that category, I'd certainly wait.

--janak

Jason Dunn
05-27-2009, 08:06 PM
It's pretty simple actually: the Zune HD can play back HD-resolution content. Bam. It doesn't matter if the screen isn't 1280 x 720 - what kind of short-bus person would think a 3.3 inch 720p screen would make sense is beyond me - what matters is the kind of content it can handle. Thanks to whatever GPU it's using (likely the Nvidia Tegra), it can handle high-resolution content unlike any other device on the market today...including the iPod Touch.

You're right in that specs don't make a device automatically great, but this is definitely a quantum leap beyond the previous generation Zune products - and with the Zune software being approximately 286% better than iTunes, it's a win-win. :D

We'll see...

Janak Parekh
05-27-2009, 08:08 PM
It's pretty simple actually: the Zune HD can play back HD-resolution content. Bam. It doesn't matter if the screen isn't 1280 x 720 - what kind of short-bus person would think a 3.3 inch 720p screen would make sense is beyond me - what matters is the kind of content it can handle. Thanks to whatever GPU it's using (likely the Nvidia Tegra), it can handle high-resolution content unlike any other device on the market today...including the iPod Touch. iLounge disagrees (http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/backstage/comments/on-zune-hd-or-why-iphone-ipod-hd-might-sound-great-but-suck/). Personally, I don't care about the moniker (or video output) that much. To each their own.

You're right in that specs don't make a device automatically great, but this is definitely a quantum leap beyond the previous generation Zune products - and with the Zune software being approximately 286% better than iTunes, it's a win-win. :D I've had this debate with you before, and it's probably not worth revisiting, but this is your opinion and not mine. ;)

--janak

Jason Dunn
05-27-2009, 08:15 PM
iLounge disagrees (http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/backstage/comments/on-zune-hd-or-why-iphone-ipod-hd-might-sound-great-but-suck/). Personally, I don't care about the moniker (or video output) that much. To each their own.

That article is shockingly easy to refute: they completely miss the fact that the device can play back HD content without needing the dock...it's just not DISPLAYED at HD resolution. They talk about how great it would have been to have an 800 pixel wide display - well guess what, that's still not HD. It would have to have a horizontal resolution of 1280 pixels to qualify as HD. They complain about people having to maintain two libraries - one for SD content, one for HD content - but the Zune HD has no such limitaton. You can load up HD content and it will play. No need for two video collections, and this is important, no need to transcode HD content!

I've had this debate with you before, and it's probably not worth revisiting, but this is your opinion and not mine.

Well of course it isn't - I didn't sign my post "Janak Parekh" now did I? :D

Janak Parekh
05-27-2009, 08:18 PM
That article is shockingly easy to refute: they completely miss the fact that the device can play back HD content without needing the dock...it's just not DISPLAYED at HD resolution. They talk about how great it would have been to have an 800 pixel wide display - well guess what, that's still not HD. It would have to have a horizontal resolution of 1280 pixels to qualify as HD. They complain about people having to maintain two libraries - one for SD content, one for HD content - but the Zune HD has no such limitaton. You can load up HD content and it will play. No need for two video collections, and this is important, no need to transcode HD content! Ah! I misunderstood your point as well. Once MS publishes the formats (or perhaps earlier), it might be worth sending the iLounge editors a note.

That said, I'm not sure it's going to be so easy for MS to market this fact. I don't know how much of the public captures and transcodes video content on their desktops. (The iTunes store, moreover, just makes this invisible by downloading both SD and HD content anyway, so consumers that obtain video content that way don't even notice.)

--janak

Jason Dunn
05-27-2009, 08:23 PM
Ah! I misunderstood your point as well. Once MS publishes the formats (or perhaps earlier), it might be worth sending the iLounge editors a note.

They understand it - they quoted this at the bottom of their article:

Zune HD & AV Dock, and an HDTV (all sold separately) are required to view video at HD resolution. Supported 720p HD video files play on the device, downscaled to fit the screen at 480 x 272 not HD resolution.

They just don't think it matters, and I think it does. A very frequent question I get asked is whether netbooks can handle HD video...netbooks without HD screens. People really do care about HD video, even if it's not on an HD display.

EDIT: I should also mention that the last time I contacted an Apple-focused site to talk about a serious inaccuracy they mentioned in an article, it turned into a ridiculous mess. Daniel Eran can not be reasoned with. He believes what he wants to believe, and facts to not enter into the equation.

I don't know how much of the public captures and transcodes video content on their desktops.

Not much, I'll give you that. But that's the public that gets video legally. Think of the untold millions of people who pull down HD movies and TV shows off torrents. Being able to slap that on a portable device to take it with you, without transcoding? That will matter to them.

crimsonsky
05-27-2009, 08:34 PM
Unfortunately, it still looks as if MS is REACTING to Apple and I just wonder how much traction an admittedly delicious sounding device like this can make against the iPod Touch. According to me, MS needs to actually beat Apple to the punch with something innovative, and so far it hasn't.

At least it's better looking that the current Zune!

Janak Parekh
05-27-2009, 08:36 PM
EDIT: I should also mention that the last time I contacted an Apple-focused site to talk about a serious inaccuracy they mentioned in an article, it turned into a ridiculous mess. Daniel Eran can not be reasoned with. He believes what he wants to believe, and facts to not enter into the equation. I don't doubt it, but can you take that specific experience and generalize it into all Apple sites? Jeremy Horwitz seems to me to be one of the most balanced Apple editors out there. He is frequently critical of Apple.

--janak

Vincent Ferrari
05-27-2009, 08:47 PM
It's pretty simple actually: the Zune HD can play back HD-resolution content. Bam. It doesn't matter if the screen isn't 1280 x 720 - what kind of short-bus person would think a 3.3 inch 720p screen would make sense is beyond me - what matters is the kind of content it can handle.

You're not serious, right?

This from someone who advocated for Blu Ray on a 13" screen? Who argued with me when I said it was overkill?

What was that quote you used? Something like "Just because you don't find a feature useful doesn't make it automatically not?" or something similar?

In all seriousness, though, calling a device HD because you can play HD through it to a television with an optional dock, to me, smacks of being "technically" correct, not honest. Bam indeed.

Perry Reed
05-27-2009, 08:48 PM
if radio stations are multicasting their "HD" station, the quality is nearly indistinquishable from standard FM radio.

This is just not true! Most of the stations here in Tampa broadcast in HD now and you can definitely tell the difference when you tune in. For the first few seconds after tuning, you get the old analog signal and then the digital HD signal kicks in and you can definitely tell the difference. It's even more impressive on the AM HD stations.

As for the Zune HD, I think it looks pretty slick and I'm eager to find out more about it. Will it support third-party applications? I would think that, to compete with the iPhone, it'll have to. And will it have PDA applictions built in? If so, I wonder if it could be a Windows Mobile killer. (Or perhaps just a preview of Windows Mobile 7...)

Vincent Ferrari
05-27-2009, 08:50 PM
EDIT: I should also mention that the last time I contacted an Apple-focused site to talk about a serious inaccuracy they mentioned in an article, it turned into a ridiculous mess. Daniel Eran can not be reasoned with. He believes what he wants to believe, and facts to not enter into the equation.

That would be like contacting Ed Bott, Paul Thurrott, or Mary Jo Foley to correct a Windows article.

The whole lot of 'em are zealots and can not be reasoned with. Daniel Eran Dilger is just one of many zealots out there; they're on all sides. :rolleyes:

Jason Dunn
05-27-2009, 08:58 PM
According to me, MS needs to actually beat Apple to the punch with something innovative, and so far it hasn't.

So I'm genuinely curious, and I mean this in a completely sincere way: I've seen this said before elsewhere, but no one ever explains what they think Microsoft should do. If you don't consider an OLED screen with the worlds first Tegra-powered handheld device (if that's indeed what they used), and the first MP3 player/DAP HD radio receiver innovative...that what is? What to you would be considered innovative?

Vincent Ferrari
05-27-2009, 09:00 PM
This is just not true! Most of the stations here in Tampa broadcast in HD now and you can definitely tell the difference when you tune in. For the first few seconds after tuning, you get the old analog signal and then the digital HD signal kicks in and you can definitely tell the difference. It's even more impressive on the AM HD stations.

Except you're getting all pissed at me for something I didn't say. I didn't say it was the same sound quality.

and for the most part, if radio stations are multicasting their "HD" station, the quality is nearly indistinquishable from standard FM radio.

Bandwidth is finite with HD. CD Quality on HD is 125kbps. If you multicast, that immediately divides that bandwidth in half to 60kbps. FM Radio quality is considered the 25-50 kbps range. Am I that far off, really?

Jason Dunn
05-27-2009, 09:00 PM
I don't doubt it, but can you take that specific experience and generalize it into all Apple sites?

Because it's the one and only time I've attempted to present a factual error to an Apple site. Maybe they're not all like that, sure, but it certainly didn't encourage me to try again. Besides, as I said they know the device can play HD files directly, but like our own Vinny here, they don't think that matters. ;)

Vincent Ferrari
05-27-2009, 09:01 PM
So I'm genuinely curious, and I mean this in a completely sincere way: I've seen this said before elsewhere, but no one ever explains what they think Microsoft should do. If you don't consider an OLED screen with the worlds first Tegra-powered handheld device (if that's indeed what they used), and the first MP3 player/DAP HD radio receiver innovative...that what is? What to you would be considered innovative?

Just for the record, I think on paper, it's a pretty cool device, but paper doesn't always translate.

Vincent Ferrari
05-27-2009, 09:02 PM
Because it's the one and only time I've attempted to present a factual error to an Apple site. Maybe they're not all like that, sure, but it certainly didn't encourage me to try again. Besides, as I said they know the device can play HD files directly, but like our own Vinny here, they don't think that matters. ;)

Does it? I mean, if you can only watch it in 1/4 that resolution, does it really matter that you don't have to transcode the file? Does anyone really have that much HD digital downloaded content that it's a deal-maker for them? :confused:

Jason Dunn
05-27-2009, 09:10 PM
You're not serious, right? This from someone who advocated for Blu Ray on a 13" screen? Who argued with me when I said it was overkill?

Ah, but you're missing the point my friend - this isn't a matter of display, it's a matter of input. Let's say there was a laptop that had a Blu-ray player in it, but only had a 1280 x 720 screen....720p, but not 1080p, which is the point of Blu-ray. So you have a laptop that can't display the full resolution of the Blu-ray disc. Just like the Zune HD that can play back a 720p video file, but not display the full resolution on the screen.

You'd say that was worthless right? I say it's not. I say the value in having a laptop with a Blu-ray drive is that if you have Blu-ray DVDs and you want to watch those DVDs, that's what matters most, not whether it's the "proper" resolution. Just like if you have HD video files, the ability to watch them on the Zune HD is what matters. HD is about crispness and clarity, and I'm quite certain that a 720p video scaled down with a powerful GPU will make that video look really good on the 3.3 inch OLED screen. But we'll see...if I'm wrong I'll be the first to cry foul.

In all seriousness, though, calling a device HD because you can play HD through it to a television with an optional dock, to me, smacks of being "technically" correct, not honest. Bam indeed.

My Panasonic point and shoot camera can capture HD video at 720p, but when I preview it on the screen, it's not HD resolution (it's VGA I believe). So according to you it couldn't be called an HD device. I say it is.

I think this is just splitting hairs over whether calling something HD means it has to be able to play back HD content, or display HD content. Blu-ray players don't have screens, but they can play back HD content. You wouldn't dispute that they're HD players though, right?

Jason Dunn
05-27-2009, 09:18 PM
CD Quality on HD is 125kbps. If you multicast, that immediately divides that bandwidth in half to 60kbps. FM Radio quality is considered the 25-50 kbps range. Am I that far off, really?

I've never heard HD Radio in my life, but from a bit rate perspective, the difference between an MP3 at 32kbps and an MP3 at 64kbps is massive. So the difference between FM radio at 25kbps and HD Radio at 60kbps is likely to be just as huge. This is probably all a matter of personal experience - Perry has heard HD Radio sound really good, and it sounds like you've heard it sound really bad. It depends so much on the individual station, right? And let's not forget the metadata part of HD Radio. I presume they'll have something similar to "Buy From FM" on the HD Radio, so it would be pretty slick if you heard part of a song on the radio, tagged it, and could download it onto your Zune over the air if you had a Zune Pass. Seems pretty compelling to me!

There are no HD Radio stations in Calgary, so it's a moot point for me, but like I always say, just because there's a feature in there that I won't use doesn't automatically make it a useless feature.

Jason Dunn
05-27-2009, 09:20 PM
...does it really matter that you don't have to transcode the file? Does anyone really have that much HD digital downloaded content that it's a deal-maker for them? :confused:

Have you ever ripped a DVD for desktop/home theatre playback, say 720 x 480 at 2000 kbps, and then wanted to take that movie on your iPod or other portable device? You'd have to transcode it. Even with SD content, the ability to just take that same file and plunk it on your player without having to transcode...that's powerful stuff, at least for me. I rarely put much video content onto my Zune because the transcoding takes so long - and we're talking SD content, not HD. :mad:

Janak Parekh
05-27-2009, 09:44 PM
Have you ever ripped a DVD for desktop/home theatre playback, say 720 x 480 at 2000 kbps, and then wanted to take that movie on your iPod or other portable device? You'd have to transcode it. Even with SD content, the ability to just take that same file and plunk it on your player without having to transcode...that's powerful stuff, at least for me. I rarely put much video content onto my Zune because the transcoding takes so long - and we're talking SD content, not HD. :mad: One unanswered question in all this is how much space the Zune HD will have. HD content is certainly expensive sizewise. A 16GB Zune HD probably wouldn't be so great in this regard. I'd love to see, say, 32GB or 64GB.

--janak

Jason Dunn
05-27-2009, 09:54 PM
HD content is certainly expensive sizewise. A 16GB Zune HD probably wouldn't be so great in this regard. I'd love to see, say, 32GB or 64GB.

Indeed. I'd love to see a 64 GB version, but if Apple is charging $399 for a 32 GB, and we know they get probably the best Flash pricing in the world, a 64 GB model would probably be cost-prohibitive.

Makes me wish the Zune HD had a microSD card slot actually...slap a 16 GB card in there for $40 and you're laughing, a 32 GB card next year for the same price. The Zune team has always resisted a memory card slot, largely because Apple hasn't done it. I think it's one of the blind spots that the Zune team has.

crimsonsky
05-27-2009, 09:55 PM
So I'm genuinely curious, and I mean this in a completely sincere way: I've seen this said before elsewhere, but no one ever explains what they think Microsoft should do. If you don't consider an OLED screen with the worlds first Tegra-powered handheld device (if that's indeed what they used), and the first MP3 player/DAP HD radio receiver innovative...that what is? What to you would be considered innovative?

Jason, I don't think the average consumer is going to care about that stuff. They're looking at price and features. I don't have any idea of what would be innovative - I'm just a consumer! But the Zune HD needs something that will scream out at the consumer "I'm better because...". Something they can see when they play with it in the store. Now, if the OLED screen is noticeably superior to the screen on the iPod Touch, that would be a big advantage because that can be SEEN.

As for the radio - well, honestly, I don't know anyone who listens to radio except to kill time in the car (if they don't have a CD player or iPod/Zune car connector). Not sure the HD radio is such a big selling point.

And why in the world would I want to connect my device to an HD screen when I can just watch it in HD in the first place, be it via a downloaded file or whatever other means there are to get HD content (ignorant here since the only HD content I get is via the iTunes store and I watch it on my 24" Cinema Display. I don't own any HD television sets). So I don't see this as a selling point either.

I'll discount the Windows-only aspect of it since that's not going to change and I don't think it matters since most folks use Windows anyway. No big deal.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with the Zune be it HD or the original. I just think Microsoft needs to do something to make the device seem more attractive to the average consumer than the iPod Touch, even if it's just marketing. Sell the HD features and the OLED screen so that people will prefer the Zune to the iPod.

Jason Dunn
05-27-2009, 10:00 PM
But the Zune HD needs something that will scream out at the consumer "I'm better because...". Something they can see when they play with it in the store. Now, if the OLED screen is noticeably superior to the screen on the iPod Touch, that would be a big advantage because that can be SEEN.

I think you're right - the OLED screen is going to have a powerful WOW factor if it's as good as other OLED screens I've seen. In a store it should have big impact. But this is assuming of course that Apple won't come out with an iPod Touch with an OLED screen too...it's all about the one-upmanship. :)

As for the radio - well, honestly, I don't know anyone who listens to radio except to kill time in the car (if they don't have a CD player or iPod/Zune car connector). Not sure the HD radio is such a big selling point.

I tend to agree with you, but over in the Zune Thoughts forums, I'm always amazed at the number of people who cite the FM radio as being a big selling point for them. I listen to radio when I wake up in the morning, and maybe in the car if I'm sick of the CD I have in the deck...but that's about it.

crimsonsky
05-27-2009, 10:01 PM
Indeed. I'd love to see a 64 GB version, but if Apple is charging $399 for a 32 GB, and we know they get probably the best Flash pricing in the world, a 64 GB model would probably be cost-prohibitive.

Makes me wish the Zune HD had a microSD card slot actually...slap a 16 GB card in there for $40 and you're laughing, a 32 GB card next year for the same price. The Zune team has always resisted a memory card slot, largely because Apple hasn't done it. I think it's one of the blind spots that the Zune team has.

YES!!! I think Apple doesn't because of their obsession with thinness, but this is one tangible area where the Zune could distinguish itself from the iPod and MS could play it up for all it's worth.

doogald
05-27-2009, 10:09 PM
Interesting - there will be no e-mail client.

Jason Dunn
05-27-2009, 10:15 PM
Interesting - there will be no e-mail client.

Is that confirmed? It doesn't surprise me actually - this is an entertainment device, not a PDA like the iPod Touch - but I haven't heard Microsoft publicly talk about what software is going to be on the device.

crimsonsky
05-27-2009, 10:16 PM
Interesting - there will be no e-mail client.

Oh, heck. You just brought up the one BIG advantage of the Touch that I'd forgotten - the App Store. That's a killer advantage and one that Apple markets like mad.

Vincent Ferrari
05-27-2009, 10:16 PM
I think this is just splitting hairs over whether calling something HD means it has to be able to play back HD content, or display HD content. Blu-ray players don't have screens, but they can play back HD content. You wouldn't dispute that they're HD players though, right?

We are splitting hairs.

Go out on the street and ask 1000 people what "HD" means in terms of a media player and if they say that it means you can connect it to a television to play HD content through an optional dock, but not on the screen of the device itself, I'll stand corrected.

Vincent Ferrari
05-27-2009, 10:19 PM
I've never heard HD Radio in my life, but from a bit rate perspective, the difference between an MP3 at 32kbps and an MP3 at 64kbps is massive. So the difference between FM radio at 25kbps and HD Radio at 60kbps is likely to be just as huge.

***long quote trimmed by mod JD***

FM Radio is in the range of 25-50k, not 25k, so there are FM stations that are in the 'hood of 50 (think something like z100 in NYC that puts out 50,000 watts and reaches as far as Philly).

I don't think it's a useless feature to have HD radio, mind you, just one that isn't really a meaningful addition. I know they're trying real hard to sell it as "better" than regular radio, and they like having another "HD" to tack on the name, but for 90% of users, FM Radio is more than adequate.

I've always hated the way they called it HD radio anyway. It has nothing to do with "high definition;" it's just a marketing thing like the afforementioned "Radio Flyer" whose name was chosen to make their 1930's era red wagon sound more modern.

Jason Dunn
05-27-2009, 10:54 PM
We are splitting hairs.

Well, yeah, but this is all about you not thinking the name is accurate, right? So we're really arguing about marketing, which is always a little...squishy. I laughed when I saw Epson start calling their printers "HD"...it's a silly moniker on a printer since they surpassed HD resolutions years ago. Accuracy and product names don't always go together, but I think the Zune HD name makes sense.

Go out on the street and ask 1000 people what "HD" means in terms of a media player and if they say that it means you can connect it to a television to play HD content through an optional dock, but not on the screen of the device itself, I'll stand corrected.

Actually, I bet most people would say "Being able to view HD content on the device". The Zune will play back HD content right there on the 3.3 inch screen. Most people don't understand resolution, so I think your argument would be lost on them. Lots of people watch SD content on their HD TV's and think they're watching HD.

Jason Dunn
05-27-2009, 10:58 PM
Oh, heck. You just brought up the one BIG advantage of the Touch that I'd forgotten - the App Store. That's a killer advantage and one that Apple markets like mad.

I'm a big fan of the App Store - in fact I think it's the best thing about the iPod Touch that I have - but on a music/video/picture device, I don't think it's as important. I guess it really depends on what the person is looking for - a gaming/Web browsing/Exchange Syncing PDA, or a device that's all about media consumption, music discovery, etc.

Jeff Campbell
05-28-2009, 01:16 AM
What is this thing called "Zune" of which you speak?
;)

Adam Krebs
05-28-2009, 01:39 AM
Oh, heck. You just brought up the one BIG advantage of the Touch that I'd forgotten - the App Store. That's a killer advantage and one that Apple markets like mad.

Sure they market it like crazy, but I really don't think it's actually that useful. Almost every report on usage shows that people don't open an app again after the first couple days--my own use with my iPhone mirrors that. I'd rather have a strong media player with the Extras tucked away, and have only a slightly built-up framework for apps on the device*. Games are another matter: they need to be pushed and brought to their full potential.

*Note that the .Net Compact Framework already runs (in a fashion) in Zune 3.0; it's needed for XNA. If they bring full (or close to full) XNA support to Zune HD I think it could completely kill the iTouch/iPhone, which really isn't that great of a gaming platorm anyway.

crimsonsky
05-28-2009, 01:58 AM
Sure they market it like crazy, but I really don't think it's actually that useful. Almost every report on usage shows that people don't open an app again after the first couple days--my own use with my iPhone mirrors that. I'd rather have a strong media player with the Extras tucked away, and have only a slightly built-up framework for apps on the device*. Games are another matter: they need to be pushed and brought to their full potential.

*Note that the .Net Compact Framework already runs (in a fashion) in Zune 3.0; it's needed for XNA. If they bring full (or close to full) XNA support to Zune HD I think it could completely kill the iTouch/iPhone, which really isn't that great of a gaming platorm anyway.

Depends on what you're looking for. Quite frankly, I think most of what's in the App Store is crap or just eye candy, and that's what folks download once then forget. But a lot of the serious players from the WM world have ported stuff to the App Store and that's the stuff I find of great values (Olive Tree, NetNewWire, soon Laridian's Pocket Bible, Pocket Informant, soon PhatNotes, that kind of stuff). I'm not a gamer so that isn't at all important to me.

I am using my Touch as a PDA almost exclusively. Having two other iPods, I don't need it for music and I do like that I have that option with the Touch. And with judicious and sensible use (and finding the gems among the crud), I think the App Store really is a big selling point.

crimsonsky
05-28-2009, 02:01 AM
I'm a big fan of the App Store - in fact I think it's the best thing about the iPod Touch that I have - but on a music/video/picture device, I don't think it's as important. I guess it really depends on what the person is looking for - a gaming/Web browsing/Exchange Syncing PDA, or a device that's all about media consumption, music discovery, etc.

In which case it's probably 6 of one, half a dozen of the other if you're looking for a media device. Mac users obviously are bound to the iPod or some other device that can sync with iTunes, but Windows users would do well with either I believe.

Jason Dunn
05-28-2009, 02:04 AM
I am using my Touch as a PDA almost exclusively. Having two other iPods, I don't need it for music and I do like that I have that option with the Touch.

The Zune team hasn't focused on making the Zune HD a PDA, and I think because of that, it's just not a good fit for people who use the iPod Touch like a PDA. And that's a bit unfortunate in that I think everyone was hoping the Zune HD would be a compeditor to the iPod Touch in every way...but, frankly, the Zune team doesn't seem to have the resources that Apple does and they can't seem to develop the device software as quickly. I mean, look, they introduced games on the Zune well over a year ago, yet today there's still no games store. That's pretty sad when you think about it, and it's something I'm dissappointed with.

I think the Zune HD has potential to be a GREAT entertainment device, but it's not going to be able to compete with the iPod Touch as a PDA until it has a rich app store, and a bunch of new on-device software (contacts, email, etc.)...and who knows when that will be?

doogald
05-28-2009, 02:27 AM
Is that confirmed?

Sorry, I should have quoted the source that there is no e-mail client: Ars Technica interview with Brian Seitz of Microsoft (http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2009/05/inside-the-zune-hd-a-new-hope-for-microsoft.ars).

FtheK
05-28-2009, 02:31 AM
I totally agree with crimonsky, up until now, every Zune that Microsoft has made has just been to get themselves up to par with Apple, with small variations that will make some people prefer one over the other. And that's simply not a good business model when the product you're competing against is already well established and has a comparatively huge user base. The software, too, is just mimicking iTunes, if, in my opinion, doing so with a hugely improved UI and speed. The only feature here which has gone above and beyond iTunes is the social aspect, which, as a user in the UK, I've not experienced.

Jason said that the HD radio, Tegra platform and the OLED screen are innovative. To be honest, it's not like there aren't already devices with OLED screens, and I strongly believe that Apple will introduce the same thing in the next version of the iPod and iPhones. The HD radio and Tegra are cool, but I think that all comes down to whether the user will actually be able to tell that those innovations are there. How many people actually use radio? How much better is HD radio than FM? If, in the UK the Zune had DAB I could definitely see myself using the radio more because, frankly, the standard radio stations are crap. I don't know if HD radio is like DAB. If it isn't, I can't see it being that great. Tegra - you guys have already been debating about whether being able to play HD video is useful. If a user doesn't want to play HD videos, what other advantages will Tegra give?

What Apple does is introduce new things that everyone can find a use for. The App store - find me one person on earth who can't find at least one useful thing in that catalogue. Portability and sex appeal - portability is an advantage to everyone, and Apple make their products thinner than anyone else. Sex appeal - gadgets looked awful before iPods. Who doesn't want their device to look good?

Now, things I want to see. OLED screen - good, but 480 x 272? Eugh.. more matching Apple rather than exceeding them. Also the screen is smaller, which in my opinion is more bad news. I have a HTC Touch HD, which has an 800 x 480 3.8 inch (I think) screen. It's the same size as my Zune 80 (including thickness), which means it's definitely portable, and the screen is beautiful. Makes the Touch's screen look like crap. I'm sure OLED will do the same thing.. but imagine the two combined. Now THAT would be amazing. Battery life is also good on the Touch HD, plus it has 2 cameras, bluetooth, FM radio, wifi, all the actual 'phoney' bits, a speaker, microphone and a micro SD slot (up to 16GB). Now why can't Microsoft build a device with those kind of specs, but instead of phone bits put in extra memory, and the better audio + video chips? I don't understand it, but maybe I'm just over simplifying things, being uneducated in such things.

Storage - I can just see them maxing at 32GB. Is there some unwritten rule that touchscreen players can't have hard drives? What about 64GB flash, though perhaps that would be too expensive. I'm not an audiophile by any means, but I love my music, and have at least 50GB. This automatically means that I, and anyone with a similar amount of music to me, can't even consider a touchscreen player, even though I would quite like one if it suited me. If there was some of my music that I didn't mind not having with me, I don't see why I would have that music. Also, that would be asking me to search through 50GB of music to find 18GB that I didn't mind not having with me, which is ridiculous.

My 2 cents :D

Phillip Dyson
05-28-2009, 02:59 AM
I think the Zune HD has potential to be a GREAT entertainment device, but it's not going to be able to compete with the iPod Touch as a PDA until it has a rich app store, and a bunch of new on-device software (contacts, email, etc.)...and who knows when that will be?

Just a thought... if they build in widget and web technology support for applications, simply integrating Live services into the mix could be short cut to provide PIM features.

Jason Dunn
05-28-2009, 03:24 AM
Great first post! Send me a private message and I'll send you a Zune Thoughts microlight. :) I love see new users come in and really contribute to the community.

If a user doesn't want to play HD videos, what other advantages will Tegra give?

Games. But if Microsoft doesn't get an app store out there with awesome games, that hardware is going to go to waste. Also, I'm hoping the user experience on the device will be superb...fast, fluid, etc. I hope they don't only tap into the GPU for video playback, but for the whole UI.

Now, things I want to see. OLED screen - good, but 480 x 272? Eugh.. more matching Apple rather than exceeding them. Also the screen is smaller, which in my opinion is more bad news.

I agree that a higher resolution would have been great...I was hoping for VGA resolution if they were sticking with 4:3, but now they're at 16:9 a higher res would have been great. 640 x 360 would have been great. I'm trying not to be too negative on this point until I see the device in person and can judge for myself. Sometimes the hardware experience can transcend the paper specs of a device.

Storage - I can just see them maxing at 32GB. Is there some unwritten rule that touchscreen players can't have hard drives? What about 64GB flash, though perhaps that would be too expensive.

Yup, it's all about cost. Here's what I posted on another front page story:

"Still no word on storage capacity, but those people expecting a 64 GB Zune are going to be dissappointed I think - if Apple is charging $399 USD for 32 GB of Flash storage, and we know they get the best Flash storage prices in the world, you've got to figure that a 64 GB Zund HD would cost $499 or higher. There's not a big enough market to justify a device that expensive, so I doubt we'll see a 64 GB Zune. My hope is that the Zune HD will undercut the iPod Touch by at least $50 and still deliver 32 GB of storage. We'll see..."

I'll say this much: the fact that the iPod Touch comes in 8 GB, 16 GB, and 32 GB capacities doesn't seem to have hurt sales any, right? So I don't think people are going to turn away from the Zune due to capacity if it tops out at 32 GB.

Darius Wey
05-28-2009, 10:49 AM
... and maybe in the car if I'm sick of the CD I have in the deck...but that's about it.

Time to get an in-car FM transmitter for the Zune. ;)

Darius Wey
05-28-2009, 11:20 AM
I think the Zune HD has potential to be a GREAT entertainment device, but it's not going to be able to compete with the iPod Touch as a PDA...

That makes me question why Microsoft has opted to include a browser based on the crippled IE. Other than for browser-based authentication, I can't see it being used much between all the media playback and gaming that will ultimately take place on this entertainment-focused device.

I'll reserve final judgement for when I see a Zune HD in the flesh, but right now, the browser just seems like a shoddy implementation and a pointless endeavour. I'd rather Microsoft focus on including features that have purpose and direction, and not just work, but work well.

And, incidentally, international support would be nice, too. ;)

jdmichal
05-28-2009, 02:15 PM
Time to get an in-car FM transmitter for the Zune. ;)

Psh. I have a 3.5mm -> tape adapter! See, now I get to laugh at all you people with CD players instead of tape decks! I told you you would rue the day!

doogald
05-28-2009, 02:55 PM
I'll say this much: the fact that the iPod Touch comes in 8 GB, 16 GB, and 32 GB capacities doesn't seem to have hurt sales any, right? So I don't think people are going to turn away from the Zune due to capacity if it tops out at 32 GB.

This is true, but remember that one of the strengths you highlight is the ability of the Zune HD to carry HD content on the device and play it on the device's less than HD resolution. The iPod Touch solves this by having you download both HD and SD versions of HD video, with the (smaller sized) SD content copied to the Touch/iPhone without special user intervention. This means that the Touch/iPhone users can have HD content that they play on the PCs without choking the storage on their portable devices.

If you are buying a Zune HD because you want to have HD video on it, you're not going to have too much HD video if storage is not more than the iPods.

crimsonsky
05-28-2009, 06:20 PM
PC Magazine has an interesting take on this giving more attention to the XBox integration:

Zune HD: Microsoft Comes Out Swinging - Columns by PC Magazine (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2347708,00.asp)

Jason Dunn
05-28-2009, 08:14 PM
Time to get an in-car FM transmitter for the Zune. ;)

Every one of those I've tried has SUCKED. No thanks.

jdmichal
05-29-2009, 01:04 AM
Every one of those I've tried has SUCKED. No thanks.

You should talk to Dave. He found one he likes.

Jason Dunn
05-29-2009, 04:21 AM
You should talk to Dave. He found one he likes.

Honestly, for me it's just the wrong approach. Besides, my new car has a 3.5mm input jack, so that's what I'll be using.

FtheK
05-29-2009, 05:32 AM
Great first post! Send me a private message and I'll send you a Zune Thoughts microlight. :) I love see new users come in and really contribute to the community.

Thanks a lot, you've made me feel really welcome. *Blush* :D
I'm a long time reader, but your promise of a 'rip roaring discussion' in the Zuneboards thread was an offer I couldn't refuse, and forced me to post.

Also, I'm hoping the user experience on the device will be superb...fast, fluid, etc. I hope they don't only tap into the GPU for video playback, but for the whole UI.

After watching those videos, wow were you right. That UI looks absolutely amazing, probably the best looking I've ever seen, especially when paired with that screen. Speaking of the screen, that too looks pretty great, even with the not too great resolution. Greater pixel density couldn't have hurt, but it doesn't look like it's going to affect the experience greatly, especially with all those massive thumbnails.

I'll say this much: the fact that the iPod Touch comes in 8 GB, 16 GB, and 32 GB capacities doesn't seem to have hurt sales any, right? So I don't think people are going to turn away from the Zune due to capacity if it tops out at 32 GB.

I agree, but Apple was never touting the touch as a HD device. As someone said earlier, when you're marketing being able to carry and play HD media back as a main feature of the device, anyone who will actually find this useful and isn't just buying in to the hype will be severely hampered by a 32GB limit. I'd be annoyed by that with just music, let alone putting a collection of HD video on it as well.

But at the same time, I agree with you when you said that how much a 64GB unit would cost would mean the market was so small it wouldn't be worthwhile. So it's kind of a lose-lose situation. I don't think we're quite at the stage yet where a device like this can live up to it's full potential. 1-2 years maybe, hopefully, but not yet.

The only other solution would be to use a hard drive, but this would add significant mass to the device, and would cost some of it's sex appeal, which I don't think is the direction Microsoft want to take this Zune. A hard drive would also struggle to load all those gorgeous UI elements fast enough, just like the iPod classics struggle with coverflow.

ACE
05-29-2009, 01:38 PM
I think a lot of people here are missing an excellent fact about the ZuneHD - it's upgradability... And hello? Xbox? History has shown Microsoft upgrades quite routinely, and what is released in September/Fall will not be 100%. Don't get me wrong, it will be extremely functional, but there's a lot of room for growth from there. Further integration with Xbox (it's a fact that the top Apps sold in Apple's App store are games) and connecting the two (Zune and Xbox) experience will soon be a huge selling point. Mark my words...;)

Vincent Ferrari
05-29-2009, 01:40 PM
I think a lot of people here are missing an excellent fact about the ZuneHD - it's upgradability... And hello? Xbox? History has shown Microsoft upgrades quite routinely, and what is released in September/Fall will not be 100%.

And? No one is actually talking about the OS itself... Not quite sure what your point is here...

ACE
05-29-2009, 02:23 PM
Not quite sure what your point is here...

Upgrades and Games. If the rumored Tegra Chip is inside, which is likely since the device will need to push the HD content out, then games from the Xbox platform could be a real option.

Sure the iPod Touch may be the "funnest" iPod, but it's not connected to any game platforms (sure, EA - but that's hardly a platform).

Xbox branded games on Zune would be awesome.

Phillip Dyson
05-29-2009, 07:40 PM
And? No one is actually talking about the OS itself... Not quite sure what your point is here...

Granted your original post was hardware-centric, I think the thread has expanded to discuss the product as a whole. That's hardware and software.

I don't think there are very many discussions about the iPod Touch that dont eventually discuss the OS or the AppStore.

I believe ACE's point is that his excitement is not just about this initial offering but over what appears to be Microsoft's new direction for the platform.

Jason Dunn
05-29-2009, 11:00 PM
I believe ACE's point is that his excitement is not just about this initial offering but over what appears to be Microsoft's new direction for the platform.

Indeed. It's a powerful vision, but they've been talking about this vision for YEARS. The problem isn't their lack of vision, the problem is their lack of ability to execute upon that vision... :(

Vincent Ferrari
05-30-2009, 05:41 PM
Indeed. It's a powerful vision, but they've been talking about this vision for YEARS. The problem isn't their lack of vision, the problem is their lack of ability to execute upon that vision... :(

Glad you said it because if I did, I'd be called an Apple fanboi. :D

a_bLAK_BOy_t
07-20-2009, 05:09 AM
i own a Zune 8 GB, i love Zune, and wen the Zune HD comes out, most def i will be buying that. wut im asking is, if the iPod Touch products can hav almost all the apps, will the Zune HD be able to do apps as well. if not, then how will you expect the Zune HD to be better than the iPod Touch?

Just cause it has an HD Radio on it doesn't make it all that exciting to me. Sirius satellite radio already came with an MP3 player that can do that. and is HD video really necessary for a small product such as that. I have an HD DVR recorder at home, and i enjoy it alot.

too me i say the iPod Touch will top off the Zune HD. The only reason i like Zune better is because of the Zune Pass, and i hate Limewire, Bearshare, Frostwire, etc... I also like Zune better because the videos don't have to be downloaded from Zune, like how Apple Products have to have videos downloaded from iTunes. Lastly, in order for me to sign up for iTunes, why do i HAVE to have a credit card immediately???

P.S. I still like Zune better, and can't wait for the Zune HD to come out.

doogald
07-21-2009, 05:54 PM
Lastly, in order for me to sign up for iTunes, why do i HAVE to have a credit card immediately???

While I agree that Apple should make this more clear when you sign up for an account, you actually do not need a credit card to sign up for an account. See http://www.apple.com/support/itunes/store/creditcard/

a_bLAK_BOy_t
07-23-2009, 05:52 PM
you actually do not need a credit card to sign up for an account.
oh ok. well last time i tried to i was on my sisters iPhone, and i was required to put in a Credit Card number to proceed to the next part of signing up.