Microsoft To Join iPod Competitors22 Sep, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf
The iPod may be the most visible and pervasive mobile entertainment gadget on the market, but Apple's not the only player in town when it comes to video-enabled portable media devices.
Apple's arch tech nemesis Microsoft Sept. 14 unveiled specs on its upcoming digital music-video player: the Zune.
The Zune boasts a 3-inch screen, a built-in FM tuner and a 30GB hard drive that can hold up to 7,500 songs or 100 hours of video. It comes in black, brown or white. The Zune also is wirelessly enabled so its users can wirelessly share songs with each other (up to three times in three days).
Each player also comes preloaded with select music and videos from record labels DTS, EMI, Sub Pop Records, Virgin Records and several others. Microsoft also is launching Zune Marketplace, where owners can download music on a per-track or album basis or via a monthly subscription, Zune Pass.
“We are not simply delivering a portable device; we are introducing a new platform that helps bring artists closer to their audiences and helps people find new music and develop new social connections,” said J Allard, VP of design and development for Microsoft.
Microsoft's Zune details did not include an official street date or price, though Microsoft did promise the player would be available “this holiday season in the United States.” Shortly after the announcement, several gadget-obsessed Web sites such as www.geek.com, www.technewsworld.com and www.theinquirer.net reported seeing the player listed at Wal-Mart.com for $284, which would put the retail price around $300. Wal-Mart has since pulled the listing.
Microsoft also did not announce any specifications on what kind of video content will be available for purchase to use on the machine, or if it would be compatible with services such as Amazon.com's Unbox. What is certain, not surprisingly, is that the Zune will not be compatible with Macintosh computers.
Company representatives did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Meanwhile, there's more competition in portable media devices. The following is a look at a handful of the other companies and players.