Enter the ninja of portable media players...

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Okay, yes, I get most of my tech news from G4's Attack of the Show, Gizmodo, and ZDNet's All About Microsoft blog these days. Sue me.

Anyway, Gizmodo and AAM both kind of broke the story of Zune 2's launch this week (at least to me), and I have to say that I am pretty excited about it.


Because I just scored a free Zune (1) last week and I absolutely love the little rascal (including the fact that it isn't an iPod)... It goes everywhere with me. In the car, on bike rides, into grocery stores... We're best buddies. But I am tired of having to explain to everyone and their brother what a Zune is.

"What's a Zune?"

It's a really cool portable media player. Here, look.


*sigh* It's Microsoft's version of iPod, only a gazillion times better.

"Ohhhhhh. How come I've never heard of it?"

Um... yeah. Somehow, the first Zune release apparently hit a whole lot of dead air.

Most people I run into have never even heard of Zune... and that makes me angry in the same way I get angry when I meet someone who has never seen a Star Wars or James Bond movie... Except I'm not actually annoyed with people who have never heard of Zune. Unlike the other two groups, it isn't their fault.

With the release of Zune 2, I am hoping that Microsoft will finally make the big splash on the pmp scene that its player deserves. With an embattled Apple busy dealing with iPhone's bricking issues, fat from iPod's complete oversaturation of a market ripe for something new to embrace, and the Holiday season right around the corner, Microsoft's timing couldn't be better. Let's hope they hit the ground running and get some traction this time.

Seriously, folks, Zune is a killer player, and you really owe it to yourselves to check it out when it starts hitting stores next month. You can watch movies on this thing, store unbelievable amounts of music, carry around your entire photo library...It's a pretty sweet tool/toy. It even has a tasty wireless feature that allows you to share songs with friends and fellow Zuners.

Update: From Gizmodo, of course -

The new features in all models, which were leaked early, are wireless syncing with your computer automatically when you're in Wi-Fi range—something users have been clamoring for since even before the first Zune—as well as videos in the Zune Marketplace and new music, some of which are DRM-free. The Zune Pad is actually touch sensitive, much like the iPod's Click Wheel.

Zune Marketplace now has music videos, but no movies. Three million songs total. The 80GB Zune also has a large, 3.2-inch screen, but only comes in black. It's also smaller and thinner than the original Zune. The flash-based Zunes, on the other hand, come in pink, green, black and red, and are the smallest of all. [CNET]

The sharing feature is being expanded so you can send music AND "other media" to other Zunes. The shared songs have no expiration date and can be shared again with other people, but the same 3 play limitation is still there.

Zune's also getting a Zune Social social-networking site. You don't even have to own a Zune to join. You can have Zune Cards to "reflect your musical preferences", based on the music you listen to on your Zune player. The card can have custom pictures and backgrounds. Displays your currently played song. You can also browse other people's cards and sample the standard 30-seconds of the song to see if you like it. There's also going to be community-generated charts to see what's popular right now in the Zune community.

The Zune's got a re-worked navigation button and is no longer has brown as a color. Darn, we liked the brown. [NYT]

Yep, brown was the yummy one. I'm holding on to my 30gb for sure now.

Zune's also getting a feature to automatically import recorded content from Windows Media Center as well, meaning you can take your TV shows to go just by syncing up with your computer.

The 30GB Zune actually isn't being eliminated, and will be offered at $199. Amazon already has it for $165-$185 now. It's going to get Wireless Sync, the upgraded Zune to Zune transfer, and the recorded TV content to go. It's most likely got the same codec support as the 80GB.

This makes me pretty happy, as you may well imagine.

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