January 15, 2007
Chat Zune-to-Zune (sort of)
Wireless sharing is sweet for exchanging music and pictures between Zunes. But wouldn't it be great to be able to actually communicate with another Zuner using your Zune's wireless capability?
Well, now you can. Zunerama member Zunadu has created a collection of 1,000 graphics files containing short phrases that can be beamed back and forth between Zunes.
The phrases are organized into folders, so you can fairly easily get to the message you're looking for. Zunadu calls his collection "ChikaZune".
Example ChikaZune conversation:
You get the idea. It won't support a debate about Shakespeare-vs-Sir-Frances-Bacon, but we're betting there are not a lot of those underway in the text message world anyway.
For quick and discrete messages from one end of the lecture hall to another, this'll work for ya. See our ChikaZune thread in our forums for more, and to download the graphics.
January 14, 2007
Sharpen up your album art
Disappointed with how grainy the album artwork is when displayed on your Zune? You're not alone.
Zune heavily compresses album art when it resizes it, and as a result the player often displays mediocre quality artwork. This simply does not take advantage of the player's bright 3-inch screen and its 320x240 display resolution.
Today, Zunerama member Trastan explains how to greatly improve the quality of the album art displayed on your player, by reloading your library with artwork in Zune's 240x240 display size.
Trastan used two downloadable tools - MediaMonkey and Album Art Tagger - to correct the 3000+ songs in his collection.
See this thread in our How-To boards for how you can do that, too! Thanks, Trastan.
SHOW US YOUR ZUNE! And win your choice of 13 great Zune cases from Incipio. Post your pic to win!
January 13, 2007
Zune's "3 plays in 3 days" music sharing limit could be eased
When Zune owners wirelessly share songs, the music can be played up to 3 times in 3 days. Today TechBlog reports that the 3-in-3 restriction may be reviewed in an upcoming meeting between music industry execs and Microsoft.
"We went to them when we started up with the Zune and said, 'We can do this to you, or we can do this with you. We want to do it with you,'" says Bryan Lee, corporate vice present for Microsoft's entertainment business.
A meeting is planned for early this year, to evaluate consumer reaction to the Zune, and possibly to change the 3 plays in 3 days restriction.
Thanks to ZuneThoughts for the story tip.
January 11, 2007
Death of my CDs
Now that I have most of my CD collection ripped and loaded into my Zune library, I find that I'm rarely breaking open a CD case anymore.
Initially I thought I'd just use my Zune on the go - while out walking, jogging, running errands, and on airplane flights. But now with my Zune car adapter, I've found I can clear out the old CDs (and, ahem, cassette tapes) littering the glovebox, passenger seat, and random cupholders. I now have the pleasant problem of wondering what I'll do with all that newly-available storage space.
This shift hit home to me even more with Microsoft's announcement about its partnership with Ford - to integrate music systems into vehicles. Industry analysts are predicting that CD players will not even be available as an option in vehicles in a very few years.
So the travelling days are over for my CDs. They stay at home... but even there, I don't pull them out as often anymore. With my Home A/V dock, my Zune player is the preferred means of delivering music through my stereo. I'm starting to view my CDs as simply backup media. I may even box them up one day and move them up to the attic.
The only good use for CDs that I can see right now is as a means to acquire DRM-free (unprotected) music. To each his own, but I find the Zune Pass a simple and actually liberating experience for acquiring new music easily and without being nickled and dimed for it. Yes, I said liberating - a feeling I never thought I'd have with a subscription service.
My CDs are beyond showing their age - they're on their last gasps of breath.
We're giving away ten licensed copies of M2Convert for Zune - software to convert DVDs and multimedia files for your Zune. Are you in to win?
January 10, 2007
Zune Home A/V Pack
We've just posted a full review, with many pics, of the Zune Home A/V Pack, in our reviews area.
After using this for a couple weeks, we consider it a must-have Zune accessory.
Check it out!
Vaja is giving away 3 of its gorgeous leather cases to Zunerama members. Get your choice of Vaja's Balance, Classic, Classic Top, or Classic Top Retro cases. Enter to win!
January 9, 2007
Apple unveils iPhone
At MacWorld in San Francisco today, Steve Jobs unveiled some innovative new products, including the long-rumored iPhone.
The iPhone integrates video iPod capabilities (music, video, pictures) with cell phone capabilities. Most notably, though, it has a 3 1/2" screen, uses touchscreen controls, has full Internet browsing using Safari.
Price is $499 for the 4GB model; $599 for 8GB model. It will be available in June 2007.
Some great design ideas, and as usual Steve Jobs presents it all with amazing flair. Thanks to engadget for its excellent coverage of the keynote.
January 9, 2007
New Zune models to debut this year
New models of Zune players will be released this year, Microsoft indicated this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, said that new models are planned for release "later this year", in a meeting with analysts at CES.
It's not likely that those models will include a Zune phone, Bach said. "It's probably on the table of things for us to look at, but not the number one thing we are focused on."
That's good - we want to see a flash-memory Zune first.
Thanks to Yahoo News for the tip.
January 9, 2007
Zune Games confirmed
The timeline is a little iffy, but according to Microsoft's Xbox Executive Peter Moore, video games will be available for Zune within 18 months.
Moore announced this at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas this week. Moore cited the advantages of Zune's large screen as a platform for handheld gaming.
We agree - games are a natural for Zune. And, while we hate to wait for 2008, this is another sign that Microsoft is continuing to pour resources into Zune, and expand its capabilities. All good stuff.
January 8, 2007
Big week ahead
Two big events this week: the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and MacWorld in San Francisco.
At CES, the largest gadget show in the world, we hope we see new Zune accessories unveiled by the exhibitors. The show started Sunday afternoon.
MacWorld Expo is also this week, with a Monday kick-off. There is some speculation that Apple might announce a full-screen video iPod (not likely), a bump in capacity to 100GB (would be nice, and might happen given Toshiba's new 1.8-inch 100MB drive). There's even talk about the possibility that Apple will announce the addition of WiFi or Bluetooth to iPod.
And, who knows? Apple might even surprise everyone and introduce the long-rumored Apple iPhone.
January 6, 2007
Marketplace vs iTunes: the Rock'n'Roll research project
Today we're kicking off a project to compare Rock'n'Roll content on Zune Marketplace with iTunes Store.
We're taking Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and researching which songs are available in Zune Marketplace, and which are available in iTunes Store.
Ten Zunerama members have agreed to help with the research. I'll be compiling the results shortly, and we'll see how the online stores compare. Check back here in a few days - and see which site is the king of Rock'n'Roll downloads.
January 5, 2007
Where the Zunes are
The map below tracks Zunerama members with their home location. You can add your own location through this thread. Our 1,400 members hail from twenty countries. The map has only been up for a few hours, but it'll be fun to see it light up as members mark their locations.
You can click and drag to see Zunerama members around the world.
Thanks to Zunerama member Jander for setting up the Frappr map!
January 4, 2007
Workaround found for skipping issue
Today, we break news on a workaround for a bothersome glitch in Zune players.
Some users have found that skipping or stuttering occurs in the first few seconds of songs. The skipping settles down after a few seconds, but then recurs with the next song.
Through some collaboration in our Tech Support board, we've found some common characteristics that can cause this. The symptom occurs with Zune players that have been synced to capacity or near-capacity, and where a significant portion of that content has been downloaded through a Zune Pass subscription.
We've passed those clues on to Microsoft (via David from Zunester), along with this surprising workaround: If you set your backlight to Always On, the symptoms disappear.
(Backlight settings are found under display in the settings menu.)
We don't ask why, we just know it works. If you're experiencing this symptom with your Zune, keep that workaround in your backpocket until Microsoft pushes out a fix through, we presume, a firmware update.
January 2, 2007
Photo review of DecalGirl Skins
We've prepared a photo review of vinyl skins from DecalGirl, which offers over 70 designs.
The skins cover the front and back, leaving the sides uncovered. Your sync cable, headphone jack, and lock switch are thus unencumbered by the skin. A small pop-out in the back skin provides a peephole so you can view your Zune's serial number.
In our review, we tested how well our skinned Zune fit into leather cases, and how readily the skin can be removed from the player.
You can see the review here.
January 1, 2007
Terms for the different areas of Zune Software screens
For tips and troubleshooting, it's helpful for us all to use the same terminology for the various areas of the Zune Software user interface.
Each of the screenshots below has a section of the screen spotlighted. We've labelled each screenshot with the correct term for that screen area, based on Microsoft's online help documentation.
December 31, 2006
Zune beat Shuffle for IGN Best Portable Audio award
Recognizing the "first major challenge to the Apple iPod yet attempted", IGN awarded Zune its Best Portable Audio award this week.
Zune edged out Apple's Shuffle to win the award. Zune "takes the win for at least offering some new features," IGN noted. "Betting against Apple is a risky game, and only adventurous consumers will likely make the Zune purchase, however, the Zune hardware itself isn't bad thanks to interesting aesthetics, a bright, animated, and well designed UI, and the potential for expanded WiFi capabilities."
December 31, 2006
Thank You and Happy New Year, from Zunerama
As we close out our inaugural year, I thought you might be interested in a recap of 2006 for Zunerama. And, I want to thank you for helping get Zunerama off to a great start!
First, some random moments from the year that was:
By year's end, we've published 175 original blog stories, had over 600,000 pageviews, and our 1,300+ members have posted over 10,000 forum messages.
And we're starting off the new year with the first Zune accessory giveaway of 2007. At one second after midnight on New Year's Eve, we'll choose one Zunerama member to win a pair of 22Moo's $250 ZuneVG video glasses. How cool is that..!?
Which brings us to the most important reason for this email...
The year would not be complete without warm thanks to YOU, for being a Zunerama member and helping make this a leading Zune site. You've given us a foundation that we can all build on in the years to come. We hope you feel like a member AND OWNER of Zunerama, because what you contribute drives what our site becomes.
Thanks to our moderators - aaron00lee, pinksage, and nymbis - for their great work in the forums, and their support of all of us in the Zune community.
And I must thank my daughters Celeste, Sarah, and Hannah, for being willing models for my photo and video reviews, and generally sharing in my excitement about Zune and Zunerama.
And most of all thanks to my wife Carrie, for being one of our first forum members ("commando"), for putting up with being a "Zune widow" on many evenings and weekends this past year, and for enriching this and all parts of my life.
Happy New Year everyone!