The next-generation Zune has just been announced, coming at you with a price tag which we already saw of $US249 for the 80GB hard drive model and $US149/$199 for the 4GB and 8GB flash-based models respectively. The new features in all models, which were leaked early, are wireless syncing with your computer automatically when you're in Wi-Fi range—something users have been clamouring for since even before the first Zune—as well as videos in the Zune Marketplace and new music, some of which are DRM-free. The Zune Pad is actually touch sensitive, much like the iPod's Click Wheel.
We're live-updating as we find out more after the jump.Zune Marketplace now has music videos, but no movies. Three million songs total. The 80GB Zune also has a large, 3.2-inch screen, but only comes in black. It's also smaller and thinner than the original Zune. The flash-based Zunes, on the other hand, come in pink, green, black and red, and are the smallest of all. [CNET]
Update: The sharing feature is being expanded so you can send music AND "other media" to other Zunes. The shared songs have no expiration date and can be shared again with other people, but the same 3 play limitation is still there.
Zune's also getting a Zune Social social-networking site. You don't even have to own a Zune to join. You can have Zune Cards to "reflect your musical preferences", based on the music you listen to on your Zune player. The card can have custom pictures and backgrounds. Displays your currently played song. You can also browse other people's cards and sample the standard 30-seconds of the song to see if you like it. There's also going to be community-generated charts to see what's popular right now in the Zune community.
The Zune's got a re-worked navigation button and no longer has brown as a colour. Darn, we liked the brown. [NYT]
Update 2: There's additional video codec support as well: h.264 and MPEG4. You don't have to convert all your stuff to WMV.
Zune's also getting a feature to automatically import recorded content from Windows Media Centre as well, meaning you can take your TV shows to go just by syncing up with your computer.
Update 3: The 30GB Zune actually isn't being eliminated, and will be offered at $US199. Amazon already has it for $US165-$185 now. It's going to get Wireless Sync, the upgraded Zune to Zune transfer, and the recorded TV content to go. It's most likely got the same codec support as the 80GB.
Update 4: There's no Zune Wi-Fi store access here. You're still going to have to buy your music from your computer and sync it to your Zune. But, Microsoft says:
Update 5: Wired has a hands on.
What we're waiting to see is more revolutionary changes, such as the ability to access the Zune music service via Wi-Fi.
80GB Zune Feature List:
Beautiful, big colour screen. A bright, durable 3.2-inch glass screen delivers uncompromised portable video viewing. Your music, video and pictures never looked better. â€¢ Touch controls. Fly effortlessly through your song, picture and video collections with the new Zune Pad. Innovative new touch controls let you brush or click. â€¢ Wireless sync. Cut the cord to your PC. Refresh your Zune with new content anywhere you charge your device. Connect to your PC through your home wireless network by setting your Zune to automatically sync the latest podcasts, music and more from your stereo dock, AC adaptor or speaker dock accessory. â€¢ Zune Social, a beta online community Web site. Discover, share and leave your musical mark. Create a Zune Card and personal profile at Zune.net to reflect your musical identity. Invite friends, share song recommendations, post comments and browse member pages to discover new music and connect to other people with similar musical tastes. â€¢ Zune Marketplace. Get your fill. Over 3 million songs, albums, DRM-free MP3s, music videos, audio and video podcasts and more. Buy individual songs and albums or choose a Zune Pass to get unlimited downloads for a flat rate. â€¢ Wireless Zune-to-Zune sharing.3 Share full-length tracks of your favourite songs, albums, playlists, pictures and even audio podcasts. Listen to the full track of any song you receive up to three times, and even pass along songs you receive to other friends who have a Zune. If you like a song you receive, you can easily add it to your wish list and then buy it from your PC the next time you sync. â€¢ Recorded television content to go. The Zune software will now automatically import broadcast content recorded on WindowsÂ® Media Center for Windows VistaÂ® Home Premium or Ultimate, so consumers can sync them onto their Zune and hit the road.4
â€¢ Built-in FM radio. With the built-in FM tuner you can listen to your favourite local FM radio stations while you're on the go. Advanced tuning capabilities allow you to see the name of the song and artist currently playing on select frequencies.5 â€¢ Import your music. Zune software will automatically import your existing music, pictures and videos, including music you have ripped into iTunes and Windows MediaÂ® Player, even transferring your existing playlists and song ratings in one easy step. Some content may be protected by the service you purchased it from, so those files cannot be imported. â€¢ Your games. Your music. Your way. Plug your Zune into your Xbox 360Â® and customise the soundtrack in your favourite games. You can also stream the music, pictures and videos from the Zune software on your PC to your Xbox 360 console using a wireless connection. â€¢ Accessories. A full line of Zune accessories are available to enhance your experience wherever you are, at home, on the go, in the car or working out.