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Zune: $250, Coming November 14

Microsoft has announced the pricing and release date for its Zune player. The portable music/video device will retail at a suggested retail price of $249.99, 99 cents higher than an equal capacity iPod (30 gigabytes). It is scheduled to reach stores on November 14, giving it almost two weeks to build buzz and stock the shelves before Black Friday.

So, should you get a Zune? Depends on what you want. On features, the Zune may have the iPod beat, with equal storage, plus wifi for music sharing, an FM tuner, a half-inch larger LCD screen, and one extra color (counter-culture brown). It also comes preloaded with a bunch of songs, music videos and film clips.

On the other hand, the iPod wins with its cultural icon status (which is a negative for some), better battery life, slightly thinner frame, iTunes support (again, a negative for some), and Mac support. So, it ultimately comes down to what your priorities are. Both look like good players, both have good reasons to buy, so just be a smart consumer and make a decision.

Songs will cost 79 Microsoft Points (80 points are a dollar, so it’s actually 98.75 cents, and some places have MS points at a discount). A monthly subscription (“Zune Pass”) will be fifteen bucks.

The Zune comes preloaded with:


  • Band of Horses, “Wicked Gil” (Sub Pop Records)
  • Bitter:Sweet, “The Mating Game” (Quango Music Group)
  • CSS, “Alala (Microsoft edit)” (Sub Pop Records)
  • Darkel, “At The End of The Sky (edit)” (Astralwerks)
  • Every Move a Picture, “Signs of Life” (V2)
  • Small Sins, “Stay” (Astralwerks)
  • The Adored, “Tell Me Tell Me” (V2)
  • The Rakes, “Open Book” (V2)
  • The Thermals, “A Pillar of Salt” (Sub Pop Records)

I like any song that claims a “Microsoft edit”.

Music videos:

  • 30 Seconds to Mars, “The Kill” (Virgin Records)
  • BT, “1.618” (DTS Entertainment)
  • Chad VanGaalen, “Red Hot Drops” (Sub Pop Records)
  • Coldcut featuring Roots Manuva, “True Skool” (Ninja Tune)
  • CSS, “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above” (Sub Pop Records)
  • Fruit Bats, “Live: The Wind That Blew My Heart Away” (Sub Pop Records)
  • Grandaddy, “Elevate Myself” (V2)
  • Hot Chip, “Over and Over” (Astralwerks Records)
  • Kraak & Smaak featuring Dez., “Keep Me Home” (Quango Music Group)
  • Kinski, “Live: The Snowy Parts of Scandinavia” (Sub Pop Records)
  • Paul Oakenfold, “Faster Kill Pussycat (Featuring Brittany Murphy)” (Maverick Records)
  • Serena-Maneesh, “Drain Cosmetics” (Playlouderecordings)

Film shorts:

  • 5 Boro: “A New York Skateboarding Minute” (Skateboarding)
  • Radical Films: “Kranked — Progression” (Mountain Biking)
  • TGRTV The North Face (Skiing/Snowboarding)

Also included: A variety of images to personalize a Zune device, including 12 classic rock posters from “Art of Modern Rock”.

More accessories have been announced:

Zune AV Output Cable. The A/V Output Cable lets you connect your Zune device to a TV and home stereo. Ideal for listening to music and showing pictures and video, the A/V Output Cable is simple to set up and use, and will retail for $19.99.
Zune AC Adapter. The AC Adapter lets you charge your Zune device without a PC. For convenience, the AC Adapter will charge your Zune device in about three hours and will retail for $29.99.
Zune Sync Cable. The Sync Cable lets you connect your Zune device to your PC or the Zune AC Adapter (sold separately). It works as a replacement for your original sync cable or as a spare for travel and charging, and will retail for $19.99.
Zune Car Charger. The Car Charger lets you charge your device in the car while listening to your favorite music and even while using the FM tuner with AutoSeek (sold separately). The Car Charger will retail for $24.99.
Zune Dock. The Dock elegantly displays your Zune device anywhere in your home or office. Featuring a connector port and an audio/video output, the Dock is ideal for syncing, charging and connecting with home A/V equipment. (A/V connectivity requires the Zune A/V Output Cable, sold separately.) The Dock will retail for $39.99.
Zune Wireless Remote for Zune Dock. Designed for use with Zune Dock (sold separately), the Wireless Remote lets you control your device from across the room. The Wireless Remote gives you quick access to your current playlist as well as full control over menu navigation and volume. The Wireless Remote will retail for $29.99.
Zune Dual Connect Remote. The Dual Connect Remote offers convenient playlist control and two headphone jacks with independent amplifiers and volume controls so you can listen with a friend or family member. The Dual Connect Remote will retail for $29.99.
Zune FM tuner With AutoSeek. The FM tuner with AutoSeek lets you wirelessly listen to music through your car’s stereo through the FM radio. AutoSeek automatically finds the optimal station so it’s easy to set up, and will retail for $69.99.
Zune Gear Bag. The Gear Bag lets you bring Zune and related accessories with you wherever you go. The Gear Bag comes with a rugged exterior and fitted compartments to protect your device while you travel. The Gear Bag will retail for $29.99.
Zune Premium Earphones. Designed exclusively for use with Zune, the Premium Earphones produce superior sound and feature a noise-isolating, in-ear design. With a convenient storage case and three earpiece sizes to choose from, you can listen to your music with added comfort and quality. The Premium earphones will retail for $39.99.

More by Reuters and Todd Bishop

UPDATE: Wal-Mart now has the Zune ready to pre-order. The price: $249.94, because they always have to beat the MSRP, even if only by a nickel.

Amazon’s also got it:

September 28th, 2006 Posted by | General, Windows Media, Zune | one comment

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1 Comment »

  1. + WMA Pro 10 hopefully! When is MS going to release technical specs? WMA Pro 10 is some serious competition to eAAC+ or aacPlus v2! At least upto 48 kbps low bitrates, it sounds amazing and *I feel* better than aacplus. Besides, it isn’t throwing away high frequencies and reconstructing them using SBR as aacplus does.

    Comment by anonymous | September 28, 2006

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