After information on the new Zunes was leaked this past week, Microsoft decided to play its hand before Apple and officially release the details on the upcoming new Zunes. Hardware changes are somewhat ho-hum but software changes are something just short of fantastic (for a Zune at least). Let’s start with the hardware. As we previously mentioned, the new Zunes will get some additional storage space with capacities being boosted to 120GB for the hard drive model and 16Gb for the flash model. The 120GB will take the place of the current 80GB model and will keep the same price point of $249. The 16GB model will come in at $199 and both new models will sport a glossy black finish. Lets not forget about the current 8GB model. It will see some flashy blue coloring (as shown in the above photo). Add in a $30 price drop bringing the new price down to $149, and you have a nice little player on your hands. Now onto that software, hit the jump to read about the software changes and to see some Qik video of the new Zune in action.
Microsoft also announced a new firmware update which will begin rolling out on September 16th. The firmware will be extended to all Zune users so no need to buy a new player just to get some cool new features. They’re not even going to charge for it – way to go Microsoft! You made a lot of Zune lovers happy and a lot of iPod owners jealous with that decision. So what does this new firmware bring to the table?
First and foremost, you get a new “Buy From FM” feature that integrates the WiFi with the built-in FM radio. Like the song you hear on the radio? With a few clicks you can purchase and download it to your Zune. Nice concept but we wonder if we will use it. How many of us even listen to FM radio anymore? Next up, you will get “anywhere, everywhere” wireless access to the Zune Marketplace where you can download or stream your music to your player. We know that ubiquitous access to an online marketplace is not unique to the Zune but it is a much needed and much anticipated upgrade. Lastly, the new Zune firmware expands the game collection found on the Zune. Texas Hold Em and Hextic will be included with plans for expansion that hopefully (pure speculation here) will include some user-generated games and some of those titles on the Xbox Arcade marketplace. You can see a teaser of the included games in the video above. The video is courtesy of the folks at Zunluv who have put together a nice multimedia collection of many of the new features in action. So we get some expanded storage, some new colors, and some nifty new features for the Zune, it all sounds great for us Windows users. Mac users need not apply as no mac support for you. Don’t feel badly, you got your turn already today.