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April 17, 2008

Kicker ZK500: win your own

by Harvey Chute

zune graphic

I'm excited to announce that we're giving a ZK500 to one of you, courtesy of audio systems maker Kicker.

The ZK500 is Kicker's highly regarded Zune stereo. It's compatible with all models of Zune players with its built-in docking cradle. You can also connect other music players to it with its auxiliary-in connector.

Brandishing a square rear-facing six-inch subwoofer, two five-inch woofers, and 40-watt stereo amplifiers, the ZK500 packs some serious punch into its attractive, compact body.

I could go on, but the main thing is - it rocks. So don't miss this chance to win yours.

To enter, tell us about a song that has some personal meaning to you. We're drawing a random winner on May 12.

Thanks to Kicker for this giveaway. Good luck, everybody!

>> Enter drawing <<

For more info on the ZK500, check out:

    Zunerama's review (with pix and video)

    Kicker products on Amazon

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April 17, 2008

Summit wraps

by Harvey Chute

Microsoft's MVP Summit closed today, with a wrap-up and Q&A; with CEO Steve Ballmer.

Also keynoting was Microsoft's chief software architect Ray Ozzie, who is somewhat of a legend in software circles with his lead roles in Groove, Lotus Notes, and - I'm seriously dating myself - working with Dan Bricklin on VisiCalc.

This was the first summit to include Zune as an MVP category, and I hope will be the first of many for Zunerama. We were given considerable access to the Zune team in a series of candid dialogues.

Forum members: thank you for contributing your Zune user feedback these past few weeks! It made my job at Summit easier, and I enjoyed the challenge and privilege of representing our slice of the Zune community this week.

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April 16, 2008

Touching base from the Summit

by Harvey Chute

Another full and fascinating day at the MVP Summit. We spent all day with different leads and members of the Zune team. As before, there is much I can't reveal in honor of the NDA.

I will say that the Zune team has impressed me with how attuned it is to the Zune user community.

In one intriguing session that I can talk about, a Microsoft hardware engineer walked us through the internals of the current device hardware. Taking our questions, he gave us insights into design decisions and the inner workings of the players. That's an 80 being dismembered in the above shot, and below is a Zune 4GB.

It's pretty cool being surrounded by fellow Zune enthusiasts all week. Have you ever seen a "Nearby" screen that actually required scrolling to see all the nearby Zunes?

In between sessions, we laid out our players on the table for a group shot.

Thanks for bearing with these posts-containing-limited-information. You'll be among the very first to know when more good Zune stuff can be talked about!

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Find Zune accessories on Amazon

April 15, 2008

Making the rounds in Redmond

by Harvey Chute

Spent a good part of the day on the Microsoft campus - with Zune team members, various Microsoft technical groups, and the above three rascals. (That's Cesar from ZuneInsider, Stefan from ihaveazune, and Grahm from AnythingButiPod.)

This day certainly exceeded my expectations. Great interaction with the Zune team, and I also participated in an enlightening session with the Windows Media Player team, shown below.

As you know, I'm under strict NDA on what I learned. Suffice it to say... I end this day feeling energized and very stoked up about what our Zune team has been doing.

We are in good hands, my friends. More to come, when more can be said.

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

April 14, 2008

Microsoft GeekFest begins

by Harvey Chute

As I prepared to leave for the MVP Summit this morning, my wife took the above picture... along with some dry comments about how well I'd fit in at the GeekFest.

The Summit is at the Washington State convention center today, then the Microsoft campus the rest of the week.

A lot of great discussions today in the open sessions, with Zune coming up repeatedly in the sessions I was in. Many MVPs have Zunes, it seems, and I've had some great discussions with them today. Also met with my Zune MVP lead, and with a few other website owners in the Zune, music player, and digital media space.

The Canadians are here in force... along with people from dozens of other countries.

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April 13, 2008

Wallpaper for my Zune (and some for you)

by Harvey Chute

This morning I want to thank Zunerama member D4V3, who created the above Zunerama wallpaper for my Zune 80.

I've been wishing for an attractive way to highlight our site name when taking photographs for accessory reviews, and my attempts at creating Zunerama wallpaper weren't cutting it. D4V3 came up with a nice solution, that brings out the logo without obscuring the menu options on the player. Thanks!!

You can download these and other Zune backgrounds - including original artwork, animals, buildings, and nature shots - in our Zune wallpaper collection.

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April 12, 2008

Review: Incipio Duke case for Zune 4/8GB

by Harvey Chute

As promised, here is the first of our reviews of Incipio's offering of cases for the latest Zune players. We start with the Duke, a casual-looking and protective case for Zune flash players.

See our Incipio Duke review for pix and commentary.

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Zune accessory giveaways

April 11, 2008

Zunerama's Zune user survey

by Harvey Chute

zune graphic

Our survey of Zune users is at a close. I've gathered up the results and have them tucked under my arm for next week's MVP Summit.

The links below take you to each of the survey's categories. We received over 200 responses - thank you!

  • Zune V2, general Q&A;
  • Zune software
  • Zune hardware
  • Zune Marketplace
  • Zune podcasting
  • Codec support
  • Zune games, XNA
  • Zune Pass
  • Zune social
  • In communicating the results with the Zune team, I'm reminded of Jander's DJ analogy. To paraphrase:

    "Anytime you get a wishlist going, you’re going to get a lot of wishful thinking! Consumers want the world, while developers try to appease the most people, in a manageable time frame, and at a feasible price.

    A personal example: I DJ professionally. During a dance, I get people coming up and asking for all sorts of music.

    Most of the time they get this: "I'll see what I can do" or "Let me check if I have it" - which basically means "No".

    It's “No” because, even though it may be a song they love, it has nothing to do with getting a group of people to dance.

    As the guy playing the music, I have to make that choice. If I played everything everyone wanted it wouldn't be a dance, it would be a let's-pay-for-this-guy-to-play-music-while-we-all-talk. Which I would probably be fine with… but it's called a dance nonetheless.”

    So, I head to Redmond in that spirit, trusting the Zune team to make their choices wisely… and to make us dance.

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    See Zune Players on Amazon: Black, White, Brown

    April 10, 2008

    Back from some rest, recreation, and rain

    by Harvey Chute

    We are your typical intrepid northwest family, and do not let a little rain get in the way of a good vacation. So again this year we set out for Kalaloch beach, on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula.

    It's one of the wettest areas on the continent, with rainforests, rocky beaches, tidepools, jungle-like hiking trails, and pounding surf. We had a great time in our gumboots and raingear.

    This was a gadget-free vacation (upon ZuneWidow's orders). I did, however, sneak in a few shots of my 80GB for our Zune photo gallery. Always thinking of you guys and gals.

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    April 6, 2008

    See and hear the Kicker ZK500

    by Harvey Chute

    Get a closer look at Kicker's new Zune dock, in the video below. The audio doesn't do it justice, but you can see that gnarly subwoofer in action.

    The ZK500 becomes available on May 1. Our ZK500 photo review has more pics and info on this impressive new Zune stereo!

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