New Zune 3.0 software sets out to impress
A firmware update will also be available for first- and second-generation Zunes (third-generation firmware is preinstalled). The new models will replace the existing 80GB Zune and 4GB Zune (same as the 8GB Zune that PC World reviewed last year), which will continue to be sold at $230 and $130 respectively until they sell out. The 120GB Zune sells for $250, the same price as Apple’s new 120GB player.
Microsoft hopes to outshine its competition by offering innovative ways for customers to discover music. Both Zune models integrate an FM tuner–a feature that no Apple iPods have. The Zune takes advantage of its tuner and its built-in wireless connectivity with its new “Buy from FM” ability. Have you ever heard a terrific song on the radio but failed to figure out the title and artist? Buy from FM will make tracking it down easy: Just tag the song you like, enter a Wi-Fi hotspot, and immediately purchase and download the song. If Wi-Fi isn’t available, the Zune sets up a queue of songs you tagged ready for download.
Another appealing new feature of the Zune 3.0 software is MixView. Zune’s MixView is Microsoft’s answer to Apple iTunes 8’s new Genius ability to generate playlists automatically. I saw a preview of MixView this week, and found it a visually stunning way to listen to and find new music.