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Microsoft unveils new Zune players, allows customization

zune Microsoft unveils new Zune players, allows customization

Tomorrow, consumers ready for a richer, more connected and more personal entertainment experience will have the first opportunity to get their hands on sleek new Zune players, redesigned Zune software, and new online services including the Zune Marketplace and Zune Social, an online music community. The players, along with dozens of accessories, will be available at retailers across the United States, while the new Zune software will be available for free download.

For the first time, consumers also will have the option to customize their Zune player with laser-engraved designs and personal text through a new web store called Zune Originals. Customers will be able to purchase a Zune player directly from Microsoft at zuneoriginals.net and choose from a collection of laser-engraved artwork designed exclusively for Zune by 18 internationally recognized artists.

The Zune Originals Artist Series will launch with designs from artists Colletivo Studios, Catalina Estrada, Laurent Fetis, Sam Flores, Klaus Haapaniemi, Pierre Marie, Kenzo Minami, Parskid, Mike Perry, Phunk Studios, Chisato Shinya, Skwak, Iosefatu Sua, Tado, Nobumasa Takahashi, Ramiro Torres, Darvin Vida and Steve Wilson.

Together with the original Zune 30GB, the new models and customization options make it easier for consumers to find the size, color, design and price that best suits them. Three new Zune models will be on store shelves tomorrow: the black Zune 80GB, which has a bright 3.2-inch screen and comes with premium in-ear noise-isolating headphones (ERP $249.99), and the slim, ultra-portable Zune 4GB (ERP $149.99) and the Zune 8GB (ERP $199.99), both available in pink, green, black and red. The new Zune models also feature the new Zune Pad, a touch-sensitive navigation button that lets people fly through menus or lists with the flick of their thumb, or click to easily change songs or adjust the volume. Every Zune player includes wireless sync and wireless sharing, a built-in FM tuner, and a bright color screen to display music, pictures, videos and podcasts. Existing Zune owners will receive all new software features via a free and easy upgrade, available Nov 13.

Microsoft unveils new Zune players and community site

aqw076 Microsoft unveils new Zune players and community siteMicrosoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and Corporate Vice President J Allard yesterday unveiled the next generation of Zune portable media players, software and online store. Gates and Allard also introduced Zune Social, a beta online community Web site built around and powered by people’s passion for music.

Microsoft announced three new models of Zune portable digital media players: a sleek, black Zune 80GB hard-drive model, which has a bright 3.2-inch screen and comes with premium headphones (ERP $249.99; all prices are U.S.); the ultraportable Zune 4GB (ERP $149.99); and Zune 8GB (ERP $199.99) flash models, both available in pink, green, black and glossy red. The new Zune devices feature the Zune Pad navigation button, with its touch-sensitive surface. Consumers can flick their thumbs over the pad to fly through lists of songs or albums or to fast-forward through picture slide shows or videos. For those who need to pause, advance or adjust the volume on the device without looking, they can also navigate the Zune Pad using physical cues by pressing on the four sides or the center of the button to adjust the volume or choose the next track.

Launching first in beta, Zune Social, a beta online community Web site, gives people a place to share their music tastes, knowledge and experiences with others. Anyone can create a free, customizable Zune Card that automatically updates to reflect the music they are listening to on their Zune or with Zune software on their computer. The Zune Card shows most recently played tracks and highlights that person’s all-time music favorites. Other members of Zune Social can play samples of the songs a user has been playing directly from a friend’s Zune Card or link to Zune Marketplace, where they can buy or download the music. In a nod to the inherently social nature of music, Zune Social will eventually enable its members to place the Zune Card on today’s most popular social networking sites, where it will continue to update automatically and show off what its owners are listening to.