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December 30, 2006

Lose your preloaded content? Don't sweat it.

zune graphic

If you are among the many Zune owners who've had to erase your Zune content - as part of troubleshooting, or just by accident - you've probably been surprised to find out that you can't get the preloaded content back!

It's not available through Marketplace downloads, and Microsoft's standard tech support line is that, once you lose it, you can't get it back.

That doesn't seem right to us. If we get the preloaded content free with our Zune players, we ought to be able to get it back when you go through normal - and Microsoft-recommended - procedures for erasing or re-formatting your Zune player.

Well, help has arrived. Zunerama members have uploaded the preloaded content - videos, pictures, and music - so that you can download them at will.

See this forum thread for download links.

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December 28, 2006

15 Keyboard Shortcuts for Zune Software

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If you're one of those Type A people who hate to have your hands leave your keyboard's home position to work that pesky mouse, here are keyboard shortcuts you can use with Zune Software:

ALT+1 - Zoom video size to 50%
ALT+2 - Zoom video size to 100%
ALT+3 - Zoom video size to 200%
ALT+ENTER - Toggle display for full-screen video
ALT+I - Sign in to Zune services
ALT+LEFT ARROW - Retrace your steps back through your most recent views in Zune
ALT+RIGHT ARROW - Retrace your steps forward through your most recent views in Zune
ALT+O - Show items on the Options menu
CTRL+1 - Switch to full-screen mode
CTRL+2 - Switch to compact mode
CTRL+7 - Switch to the second library view. For example, switch to the Artist view in the Music category.
CTRL+8 - Switch to the third library view. For example, switch to the Album view in the Music category.
CTRL+9 - Switch to the fourth library view. For example, switch to the Songs view in the Music category.
CTRL+B - View the previous item
CTRL+E - Highlight the Search box

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December 27, 2006

Video review: DLO Jam Jacket

Our reviewer Sarah reviews DLO's Jam Jacket - and gives step-by-step instructions for installation and removal of this fun slip-on cover for your Zune.

DLO Jam Jacket
Zunerama Video Review (01:43)

You can see DLO products for Zune through this Amazon affiliate link or at DLO.com.

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December 27, 2006

Video review: DecalGirl Skins

In this video review, our 9-year-old reviewer shows how to apply a cool DecalGirl skin to your Zune.

DecalGirl (www.decalgirl.com) has over 70 amazing skins to dress up your Zune. Hannah shows how simple it is to line up and apply the vinyl skin to the front and back of your player.

DecalGirl Skins for Zune
Zunerama Video Review (02:24)

We've found that we can still fit a skinned Zune player into cases - even snug leather cases - should you have that need. But, most of the time, you won't want to cover up all that personality being expressed through your Zune skin.

When you remove the skin, it comes off cleanly and leaves no residue whatsoever on the body of the Zune. Very nice - we recommend DecalGirl as a fun and well-made accessory at an unbeatable price: $6.95 per skin!

We're an affiliate of DecalGirl, so if you choose to use our affiliate links to get your skin, those kinds folks will send a few pennies our way, to help keep Zunerama zunin' on.

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December 27, 2006

Video review: Speck Tough-Skin case

Today we inaugurate our first video review! Celeste walks us through the features of Speck's rugged Tough-Skin case for Zune.

Speck Tough-Skin case
Zunerama Video Review (02:30)

Thanks, Celeste! You can see this and more Speck products for Zune here. Or you can see all six Speck Zune cases and armbands through this affiliate link. Note: the Speck Tough-Skin retails for $34.95, not $24.95 as stated in the video. (My bad.)

This review was fun and something we'll do more of. In fact, I have another video review that I'm preparing, for tomorrow's blog. And over time, I'll get better on the technical end of things - starting with a better sound microphone which I hope to find tomorrow.

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December 26, 2006

7 helpful tips for new Zune users

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We welcome many of you who unwrapped new Zune players this Christmas. Congratulations on making Santa's nice list this year.

Our forums have been buzzing with new Zuners celebrating their unboxings, and also with start-up questions as they get their Zunes installed, synced, and out into the world.

We've uncovered useful nuggets that every new Zune owner should know... and that may not be immediately obvious. Here then, are...

7 TIPS THAT EVERY ZUNE OWNER SHOULD KNOW ON DAY ONE

1. Sync reliably. Connect your sync cable to a USB port on the back of your computer - not one of the front USB ports. This takes care of many syncing issues.

2. Be current. Make sure your Windows is up to date before installing Zune software. It should be Windows XP, Service Pack 2; or Windows Media Center with current rollups.

3. Patience, Grasshopper. Your first sync will take awhile, while your Zune software finds content on your PC and prepares it for Zune. Go drink an eggnog with your family.

4. Do the trial thing. To activate your 14-day trial Zune Pass subscription: make sure you're signed in, select Account Management (it's an option under the sign-in icon), and select "Redeem Prepaid Card". You'll see that option under the ZUNE PASS section of the window.

5. Got (a lot of) content? If you're lucky enough to have more content (music/pix/video) than will fit on your Zune, that's okay - Zune will load your music first, then pictures, then video, until your 30GB is consumed. If you want to, you can control what gets loaded. You can prioritize which music playlists get synced (see this FAQ for how). And, you can tell Zune to only sync certain folders of music, pictures, or video - just follow the steps in this FAQ.

6. Play DVDs on your Zune. To make your family DVDs playable on your Zune requires 3rd party software. There are freeware and paid software packages that will do this for you. The trick is to set up the software so that the video gets converted to a Zune-compatible format. Check out our How Tos board for step-by-step tutorials.

7. The key to longer life. To get the most life out of your battery, use this simple trick for the best way to turn the player off: press and hold down on the control pad and press the back button for a couple seconds.

Got other questions?

- Check out our Zune FAQ - it's searchable and contains many answers to commonly asked questions.

- Search our Zune forums. Various scenarios and questions are discussed and resolved here every day.

- Post a question in our Tech Support board.

Enjoy that new Zune!

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December 25, 2006

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December 24, 2006

Skipping issues?

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If you're experiencing skipping issues with songs you've downloaded from Marketplace, the Zune team from Microsoft would like to know about it.

Some Zune Pass (subscription) users have reported problems with tracks skipping in the first few seconds of play. According to David Caulton of Zunester, the skipping issue should be fixed with the recent release of firmware version 1.2.

If you're experiencing this, even after getting firmware 1.2, please email David at dcaulton@microsoft.com.

And tell him Zunerama sent you. :)

Note: I have a Zune Pass subscription, and have not experienced this issue. I've downloaded about 600 tracks through my subscription over the past six weeks. But from various reports I've seen, this does appear to be an intermittent issue with some users.

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December 23, 2006

Inside glimpse into Zune Masters

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Microsoft's Zune Masters program hasn't started yet, but today Zunerama got an insider's glimpse into this exclusive club. As we reported earlier, Zune Masters are 18-22 year olds selected by Microsoft to be an elite team of Zune ambassadors.

According to our source from inside the program, 163 Zune Masters have been chosen; there will be 200 in all. Each Zune Master receives a welcome kit consisting of a limited edition 30 GB Zune player (pictured, showing artwork on its flipside), ten Zune T-shirts, a custom Zune Masters messenger bag and insulated cap from The North Face, and Zune posters.

In the acceptance email from Microsoft, Zune Masters are advised that they will be paid for some of their promotional activities, and that at least two paid activities per month are expected. These might be Zune concerts or other events in their local area. Zune Masters can also suggest events to Microsoft that would be suitable for their paid participation. Hmmm... a Zune kegger, anyone?

It'll be interesting how effective this program will be. Microsoft touts it on the Zune Masters site as a guaranteed resume-builder - which is probably true. Just don't try applying at Apple.

Prospective ambassadors can submit applications at the Zune Masters website.

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December 22, 2006

Zune accounts for 4 out of top 10 gadget stories in 2006

This morning, Gizmodo released a chart showing its top 10 most-viewed stories in 2006.

Interestingly, Zune made for 4 of the top 10 stories! You can see details of the stories here.

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December 22, 2006

Hey! A Zune ad that we understand!

You may recall the Zune ads that we posted last month... they were artsy ads that were kind of fun but... really had nothing to do with digital media players.

Since that time, I have never seen a Zune TV ad - until last night on NBC. And this ad (click below to view it) was a 30-second clip that actually made sense. It even mentioned a wireless digital media player!!

Microsoft: if this is a trend... we like it!

The soundtrack for the ad is "Share", from San Francisco quartet Bag of Toys.

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December 21, 2006

Thumbs up on the 1.2 upgrade

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So far, feedback in our forums has been positive about the Zune firmware and software upgrade that Microsoft released on Monday.

While there have been a few who are struggling with unexpected results, the upgrade has gone smoothly for most. And, many have reported noticeable performance improvements - faster scrolling, quicker transition between pictures in slideshow mode.

According to Darius at Zunethoughts, the upgrade also improved the display of album art on your player.

While the Zune screen is capable of a crisp 320x240 resolution display, the album art that appears when you're playing music is noticeably grainy. That's because Zune software was converting high-resolution album art to a very low 200x200 resolution - presumably for file size efficiencies - and then resizing the image for 240x240 display on your screen.

With the firmware upgrade, Zune does a better job preserving the resolution of the album art. The album art is no longer subjected to the 200x200 conversion step, so the resulting 240x240 displayed image is sharper.

You'll see this effect as you download (or rip from CD) new music. To see the effect on your existing files, you can delete songs or albums from the player, and re-sync to your PC.

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December 20, 2006

How to erase all content from your Zune player

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You may have seen several blog stories today about Wal-Mart selling a Zune that had apparently been used and returned, and had some very naughty video on it.

Either Wal-Mart got sloppy or they just didn't know how to erase all content before trying to resell a returned player!

So, as a public service to Wal-Mart, other retailers, and the common Zuner everywhere, we describe below how to delete everything from your Zune player.

With your Zune attached to a computer, it's easy:

  • Start Zune software and connect your Zune to the PC.
  • From the Options menu, choose Sync, your device name, and then click Erase Zune Device.
  • Click OK after seeing the "are you sure" prompt.
  • All content on the player will be erased.
  • To erase all Zune content without using a computer:

  • Press and hold the Back button while pressing "up" on the control pad.
  • The Zune will start to reset. Immediately press and hold the Back button and at the same time press "right" on the control pad and the OK button in the center of the Control Pad. Hold these buttons until your Zune device restarts and you receive the message "Clearing contents. Please wait."
  • When the Home screen appears, the erase is complete, and you can again use the Zune device.
  • With either of these methods, you will lose the pre-loaded content on your Zune. Any other content you have in your PC library will re-sync the next time you connect your Zune.

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    December 20, 2006

    Review: DLO Power Pack for Zune

    zune graphic

    Digital Life Outfitters has assembled a sensible package of compact charging accessories for Zune.

    Your Zune player comes with a USB sync cable, which doubles as a charging cable. Your Zune's battery gets charged whenever it's connected to your PC with the sync cable.

    But there are times when that's not convenient, and the Power Pack fills that need with an AC adapter, an auto charger, and a USB dock cable.

    zune graphic

    See full review.

    Summary.
      Company: DLO (Digital Lifestyle Outfitters)
      Link: www.DLO.com
      Model: Power Pack for Zune
      Price: $39.99
      Amazon link: DLO Power Kit for Microsoft Zune
      Pros:
    The compact design and solid construction makes this accessory pack well-suited for on-the-go use.
      Cons:
    None.
      Overall:
    If you're ever more than half a day away from your PC, you'll be pleased to have this highly portable, stylish charging set along for the ride.

    Comments | Permalink


    December 19, 2006

    Zune software update - available today

    zune marketplace

    Later today, Microsoft will release an official update for Zune software that enables support for Windows Vista - and also corrects installation issues that many users have experienced.

    You should get the update even if you don't have Vista installed. It's a 22MB download, and is available automatically from Microsoft Windows Update or from zune.net. Thanks to Cesar from ZuneInsider for the alert!

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    December 18, 2006

    Zune firmware update

    The first Zune firmware update was rolled out today. Connect your Zune and a message will pop up asking you give your Zune a little love, with Firmware release 1.2.

    zune graphic

    What's in it for you? Microsoft is only saying general statements about better stability and performance. We've seen a noticeable improvement in scrolling speed, and in transitioning from one pic to another in slideshow mode. Sweet!

    zune graphic

    Comments | Permalink


    December 18, 2006

    Review: Vaja Balance case for Zune

    vaja balance

    Vaja, the Argentinian maker of deluxe leather cases, has released its lineup for Zune players, which includes its Balance, Classic, Classic Top, and Classic Top Retro models.

    We recently put the Balance through our testing regimen at the Zunerama workshop. We found that if you're in the market for a top-quality case for your Zune, and don't mind paying for it, you won't be disappointed by the Vaja Balance.

    vaja balance

    Packaging. You get a feeling you're venturing into a high-end encounter just from the un-boxing experience. Vaja's packaging includes tastefully understated markings on the outer slip cover, which encases an inner covered box.

    Flip open the lid and I swear that a subtle scent of leather wafts out of the box. I don't think I've enjoyed opening something this much since... well, since I took my first Zune player out of its box.

    vaja balance vaja balance

    What's in the box.

    vaja balance

    Clockwise from top left, the box comes with a set of promotional cards for Vaja accessories, a disclaimer card explaining the variabilities of genuine leather products, the case itself, an envelope containing three screen protectors, and an instruction pamphlet.

    See more pics and the complete review here.

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    December 16, 2006

    Review: Zune VG video glasses

    Australian accessory provider 22Moo recently released its Zune VG wearable video display, and this week they loaned us a copy to put through our paces.

    We found the video glasses to be an entertaining and surprisingly usable device - for those occasions when you want the convenience or novelty of a wearable display.

    And if you're into the geeky-cool look... well, you're probably not even reading this, because you've already ordered a pair of your own from 22Moo's website.

    zune graphic

    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.

    Read the complete review here.

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