New Zunes hitting stores today
Microsoft’s long awaited Zunes will finally hit stores today, and these revamped portable media players will ship in a wide variety of colors that come complete with tattoos, custom engravings, and other artwork. Dubbed “Zune Originals,” the new Zune range will boast a pretty fine collection of eclectic artwork by 18 artists and design studios for you to choose from. All hail Colletivo Studios, Catalina Estrada, Laurent Fetis, Sam Flores, Klaus Haapaniemi, Pierre Marie, Kenzo Minami, Parskid, Mike Perry, Phunk Studios, Chisato Shinya, Skwak, Iosefatu Sua, Tado, Nobumasa Takahashi, Ramiro Torres, Darvin Vida, and Steve Wilson for sexing up Microsoft’s second generation Zunes, bringing the total number of designs to 27.
These new Zunes will come in three different capacities – the 4GB model will retail for $149.99, the 8GB model will hit your pockets for $199.99 while the 80GB monstrosity will take a $249.99 bite out of your wallet/credit card. That’s still half the total capacity of Apple’s 160GB iPod Classic, but it is still a massive improvement over the previous 30GB offering from Microsoft. The new 80GB Zune 2.0 comes with a much larger display that the 80GB iPod Classic, and features an integrated FM radio, wireless player-to-player sharing, WiFi syncing with your computer as well as a rear panel that can be customized with really cool artwork to make you stand out from the crowd.
In addition, engineering enhancements include a much slimmer body that makes the Zune a whole lot nicer to hold, a rounded touch-sensitive control, support for MP3, WMA, WMA lossless, PlaysForSure, and its own proprietary format for Zune Pass subscriptions. I must say in theory the new Zunes make for a pretty good competitor against Apple’s line of iPods, and Microsoft has surely learnt from its past mistakes – thankfully they have the money and time to do so, so it would be interesting to see whether the MP3 player market will be fragmented further in Zune’s favor this time round. For those who still want the first 30GB Zune that was released last year, its $249 price tag has been reduced to $199, complete with upgraded firmware.