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December 15, 2006

A simple trick for extending Zune battery life

Here's a technique that can significantly prolong your Zune's battery life.

Most Zuners turn off their player by pressing and holding the play/pause button for a few seconds.

When you power back on, Zune will bring you back to whatever you were doing when you powered down - whether that be listening to a song, watching a video, viewing a slideshow, listening to radio, and so on.

While that's nice, there's a price! The player uses a little bit of battery power to preserve that information while the player's off. Essentially, the player is going into hibernate mode, ready to spring to life when you turn it back on.

There's a better way to turn it off that saves battery life. You won't find this method in the minimalist "Start" pamphlet that came in your Zune box.

Press and hold the down button on the D-pad, and at the same time press and hold the back button. In three seconds, the player will fully power down.

If you're not going to use the player for a few hours, or if it's just not important to you that it start at your most recent function, this method will keep your battery juiced for a much longer time.

When you do power the Zune back on, it'll display the Zune logo momentarily (about 4 seconds) and then take you to the main screen.

This trick has been well-known in our forums for a while, but I think it warrants highlighting in the blog. For me, it's the most commonly-used of all "undocumented features" of your Zune!

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December 13, 2006

Win a Vaja case for your Zune

Vaja, maker of deluxe Zune cases, is giving away 3 of its gorgeous leather cases to Zunerama members!

Winners get their choice from Vaja's Zune case lineup: the Vaja Balance, Classic, Classic Top, or Classic Top Retro.

Vaja Zune case Vaja Zune case Vaja Zune case Vaja Zune case

What's more, winners can personalize their cases - choosing from 18 different colors, belt clip options, and even text and graphics engraving options. Wow! Thanks Vaja!

You can see all of your personalization choices here.

Here's some close-up pics that show the quality you can expect from a Vaja case:

Vaja Zune case Vaja Zune case Vaja Zune case Vaja Zune case

You can enter to win here. Good luck!

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December 10, 2006

Zune software update expected by Christmas

The Zune software running on your PC will get its first update, sometime between now and Christmas, reports CNET.

With the update, Zune software will be compatible with Windows Vista - the soon-to-be-released version of Microsoft's Windows operating system. The update will also fix some "minor glitches" and add some "performance and other improvements", according to Zune marketing director Jason Reindorp.

No new features yet, according to Reindorp: "It is plumbing stuff, but it is stuff customers will notice and appreciate. It's not going to be a whole new wireless scenario or anything like that."

With Vista scheduled for release on January 30, 2007, the Zune update needed to occur at some time prior to that date. The actual date of the Zune software update hasn't been released yet by Microsoft.

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December 9, 2006

Thanks Speck!

Today is the last day of our Speck giveaway, and on behalf of our twenty-four, count'em, twenty-four winners of Zune cases from Speck, I want to thank Speck for a great giveaway.

And if you didn't win in this contest, take heart! We have other great giveaways going on now.

Up for grabs are Zune cases from DLO, M2Convert for Zune DVD and multimedia conversion software, Zune cases from Incipio, 22Moo's ZuneVG wearable video display glasses, and - soon to be announced - Zune skins from DecalGirl.

'Tis the season of giving here at Zunerama, so don't miss out!

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December 8, 2006

The missing link at zune.net

You may have noticed the unlabeled menu item on the page header at zune.net, Microsoft's official Zune site.

To the right of the main navigation links - Meet Zune, Social, Artists, Accessories, and Support - a little marker sits, waiting silently and expectantly. We've noticed it there since the November 14th launch date, when the Support link was added.

My theory - strictly a guess - is that it will link to a set of Zune user boards hosted by Microsoft, akin to the company's Xbox community forums.

Unless, of course, it's going to be a direct link to Zunerama, which would surely be an act of service to the Zune community at large. But, I may be thinking wishfully there.

What's your guess?

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December 7, 2006

Microsoft: a million Zunes by June

For the first time, Microsoft has released sales projections for Zune: it expects to sell 1 million players by June 30, 2007.

Of course, that's a drop in the bucket compared to Apple's sales, which were 39 million players sold over the past 12 months. That figure includes all iPod models - iPod, nano, and shuffle - worldwide.

But Microsoft sounds upbeat. "We think that's actually pretty awesome," said Bryan Lee, corporate vice president for Microsoft's entertainment group.

It's not bad, if they can hit those numbers... expecially considering that there's only one model of Zune player so far, and it's a high-end model at that. Plus, Zune is only for sale in the US, and is not yet released worldwide.

Lee said on Wednesday that Microsoft expects to eventually "be the leader" in the category, as it rolls out more Zune models and starts selling them internationally.

This'll be a long fight, and we're in the early moments of Round 1. We may be aways off from any knock-out blows, but so far, the little fighter in our corner is looking pretty determined and scrappy.

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December 5, 2006

Zunerama giveaway: 22Moo's ZuneVG wearable display!

Get your ZuneVG video glasses, $250 value

In what will be the first Zune giveaway of 2007, one of you will be selected at midnight this New Year's Eve... to receive a ZuneVG wearable video display from Australian accessory maker 22Moo.

Just try to keep your dorm buddies back while you slip on your VG-SD ZuneVG display. Experience movies and videos as if you're watching a 35" screen. The display projects an image in front of each eye with 2 TFT LCD displays, and has integrated stereo earphones. All this in a highly portable 4.2-ounce package.

The display works with your Zune, as well as iPod Video, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo GameCube, and most devices with AV output. With your Xbox, you can play games while you're lying on the couch - without hogging the family TV. Everybody wins!

The unit comes with a 1-year warranty and retails for $250 USD.

Caution: do not use while driving or cycling.

Start your new year with a bang, and enter to win in our Giveaway boards.

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December 4, 2006

Skin your Zune

Zunerama is partnering with DecalGirl to give you the coolest ways to dress up your Zune.

DecalGirl makes ready-to-apply Zune full-color skins from premium-grade adhesive-backed vinyl.

DecalGirl skins are covered with a clear protectant layer for the ultimate in durability. The skins are repositionable, the removable adhesive backing allows for fast, easy and accurate installation - and goo-free removal!

Skin kits cover the front and back of your Zune. You can use the affiliate links below to dress up your Zune and protect it at the same time.

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December 3, 2006

Vaja releases line of Zune cases

zune graphic

Vaja has announced its collection of Zune cases.

Vaja cases can be customized with a wide selection of colors, and you can emboss your name or logo on the backside.

Below are snaps of Vaja's Classic and Balance models.

Vaja hasn't loaded all its models on Amazon yet, but you can click on either of the pics below to do a current search.

zune graphic zune graphic

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December 2, 2006

Microsoft to reward you for Zune music sharing?

zune graphic

Rumors have been softly swirling about the prospect of Microsoft rewarding people who wirelessly share songs with other Zuners, resulting in purchases of transmitted music by the recipients.

It's an intriguing use of Zune wireless sharing... but unconfirmed by Microsoft.

Evidence is mounting, though, that this could become real. Consider:

  • At the Music Tech Summit in Seattle, Zune architect J. Allard discussed the notion of compensating people for Zune-to-Zune sharing, reports the Good Morning Silicon Valley blog. Allard talked up the idea of "encouraging Zune owners to share music by offering them a sales commission in Zune Marketplace Points."
  • Meanwhile, engadget reports that such a system would be similar to Weedshare, a "play/buy/share" service that compensates artists and individual distributors of music. Notably, Microsoft has acquired the rights to Weedshare's digital media sharing business concept, which is currently submitted as patent No. 10/326678.
  • And GMSV has uncovered a Microsoft Research whitepaper on digital media sharing commissions, that describes a "novel platform" to enable an "arbitrary user of specific digital content to resell it to other users" in such a way that "part of the revenues is retained by the seller as an incentive for participating in the distributed economy."
  • Timing is unclear, but we're betting it's sooner rather than later that we'll see a rewards system for Zune wireless sharing.

    Comments | Permalink


    December 1, 2006

    Zune hits #2 in player sales in 1st week of launch

    zune graphic

    It's far from certain that Zune will succeed in turning the music player world into a iPod-Zune two-horse race. But, there are some good early signs of just that.

    In its first week of sales, Zune bumped ahead of SanDisk's Sansa for the No. 2 spot behind iPod. According to figures released by the NPD Group, Zune claimed "nine percent of unit sales and 13 percent of the total dollar share during its first week on store shelves".

    iPod with its many models has a solid lead with 63 percent of unit sales and 72.5 percent of the dollar share, the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday.

    Retailers are telling Microsoft that they've seen Zune "delivering incremental sales, and that's resulting in growth of the category", according to Microsoft's Cesar Menendez from ZuneInsider. In other words, Zune is not only cutting in a bit on competitor sales, it's also driving additional interest in the digital player space.

    It's a long road ahead, but from the opening week there are reasons for optimism.

    Comments | Permalink


    November 30, 2006

    No Zune player yet? You can still use Zune software

    zune graphic

    Got a Zune coming, but can't open it until December 25th? Even if you don't have a Zune player yet, you can download and use Zune software on your PC.

    The software can be downloaded free from zune.net. It'll prompt you for a Zune Tag - a nickname you make up to identify yourself, and that is linked to your Microsoft Live account.

    Once installed, Zune software will search your PC and create a library of music, video and pictures based on your existing media.

    You can use the Zune software to rip tracks from CDs, either to Windows Media Audio (.wma) by default, or to MP3 format.

    And, if you want to expand your music collection on your PC, you can browse and buy from Marketplace, Microsoft's online music service. Marketplace allows songs to be purchased individually or through a subscription.

    A benefit of setting up the software ahead of time: you can review and set up your music playlists, getting that music library dusted off and ready for syncing to your Zune player.

    P.S. Congratulations to our first 6 winners of Speck cases: jonespopkid, zunemebaby, jonese8, tactics, Blitzkrieg, and goodgirls. Eighteen more winners to be drawn! Enter here to win.

    Comments | Permalink


    November 29, 2006

    A Week in Leather: free DLO Leather cases for Zune

    zune graphic

    We were contacted yesterday by Lindsay from DLO. She had just read our review of DLO's Leather case for Zune, and offered 5 Leather cases for us to give away, free to Zunerama members.

    Thanks, Lindsay! The giveaway will be everyday from Monday Dec 11 through Friday Dec 15.

    To enter, all you have to do is make a post here.

    Starting Dec 11, we'll hold random drawings daily. DLO will cover shipping and handling, too.

    Odds are you'll get yours just in time to tuck it under your tree. You can see more contest details in our giveaway board.

    Good luck!!

    Comments | Permalink


    See Zune accessories on Amazon:
    Zune Travel Pack   |   Zune Car Pack   |   Zune Home A/V Pack   |   Zune Tough Skin

    November 29, 2006

    Zune Wishlist

    Zune

    We're loving our Zune players, but that doesn't keep us from dreaming of wishlists for updates and new models.

    In the Zunerama forums, we're compiling a wishlist of updates under the categories of:

  • Firmware. Updates to the firmware on the Zune 30GB player
  • Software. Updates to the Zune PC software
  • Marketplace. Updates to Zune Marketplace
  • Hardware. Ideas for future Zune players
  • Accessories. Ideas for Zune accessories
  • The tables below is an eyechart, so click on it to see a full-size version of what we've compiled so far, with priorities.

    You can add to this discussion by posting your wishes here.

    Zune wishlist

    Comments | Permalink


    November 28, 2006

    Review: DLO Deluxe Leather Case for Zune

    zune graphic

    Digital Life Outfitters has released its lineup of cases for Zune players, which includes its Leather, Action Jacket, and Jam Jacket for Zune. We gave the Leather fliptop case a test drive this weekend, and found it offers an attractive, practical way to dress up and protect your Zune.

    zune graphic

    Packaging. The Leather comes packaged in a simple box, colored in the Zune brown and orange motif. Ours came with a promotion offering twelve issues of Rolling Stone magazine.

    Side note: Filling out the leather case is a sponge mock-up of a Zune with a cardboard front. Give it to your younger kids and they'll get a kick out of playing with a fake Zune. (Or maybe mine are just easy to please.)

    zune graphic

    Features and Performance. DLO obviously knows what it's doing; they're a leading maker of iPod cases. The soft black leather, expert stitching, and brown trim look and feel really sharp. The case fit my Zune snugly; no worry about pop-outs, and yet it's still manageable to slide the Zune in and out.

    The Zune screen is protected by a stitched-in clear covering, which extends down to cover the D-pad. There is some reflection and glare from the covering if light hits it from the wrong angle. A slight adjustment in the viewing angle takes care of it. D-pad operation is not hindered by the clear covering; you'll forget the covering is there.

    The case has indented circles of slightly thinner leather over the left and right control buttons. Button action feels natural and responsive.

    zune graphic

    The sturdy belt clip on the rear has a strong spring, and is attractively wrapped in leather with brown trim.

    Other features I liked include the magnetic closure, and a pocket on the inside of the cover where you can slide bills or your ID.

    zune graphic zune graphic

    On the underside of the case is a trimmed access opening for your sync cable. Access for the headphone jack on the top is also provided through an opening in the top of the case.

    zune graphic

    I'm impressed with the workmanship and attention to detail in this case. Its features are well thought through and this would bewelcome under many a Christmas tree this season. (Beach rocks not included.)

    Price. The DLO Leather retails for $34.99.

    If you feel this is right for your Zune, you can find DLO Zune cases on Amazon, and rest well tonight knowing you helped keep Zunerama zunin' today.

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