Zune WiFi

Read about the Zune WiFi for mobile music sync on Zune players.

Sep 302006
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The battle for holiday sales of mp3 players should be very interesting this year. Whatever your opinions of it the battle between Apple and Microsoft certainly qualifies as epic. Since the beginning of the digital age both have done their best to assert control of a global industry. One was able to best the other for a very long time until Apple took the mp3 player and changed the music business. Microsoft has entered the ring yet one more time in a fight for much more than mp3 players now. Today’s handheld devices are phones, play music and videos and next generation devices are expected to do far more.

The portable media market is so full of choices including services, formats and licensing standards that the industry is in disarray. Who needs a mobile phone, a PDA, an MP3 player and a laptop? The first company to hit the market with the right music/phone/pda should take the prize. Apple has a huge lead in handheld sales with absolute dominance in the music business. The iPhone has been rumored for years now but still does not exist. Microsoft brings with it an established and flourishing Xbox Live business model and the technology to tie them all together in the PC which resides in so many homes and businesses. Microsoft has already said a Zune Phone is in the works.

We’re not gadget heads or expert of any kind but we did our best to break things down for the Zune Forum fans.

Zune MarketPlace vs iTunes.

Microsoft offers the following information on Zune MarketPlace for us so far.

You can browse the huge selection of music designed to work seamlessly with your Zune in the Zune Marketplace. When you find new music that you love, it’s simple to buy it and sync it on your player. The Zune Marketplace works with the Microsoft® Points program so you can purchase music online without a credit card.

Zune Pass. Downloads or a subscription? It’s your choice. A Zune Pass subscription gives you “all you can eat” access to discover and explore the Zune Marketplace. If subscription services are not right for you the chose to purchase individual songs or albums as well.

What Apple says about iTunes

iPod and iTunes give you a seamless experience, from download to sync. Shop for music, movies, games, TV shows, and audiobooks on the built-in iTunes Store, download free podcasts, or import songs from your CDs. Then connect iPod to your Mac or PC, and iTunes gets to work. You guys now the rest about iTunes and iPod.

The results of our comparison.

Online Music Services

As far as the online music service goes Zune MarketPlace has a long way to go before they can say they have topped iTunes. The Apple music service is in it’s seventh generation software version and although there have been a few problems it’s a definite improvement over previous versions. iTunes offers an extensive collection of media and has set the bar, much to the chagrain of the recording studios, for low prices in the digital music industry.

With the limited information available it will be hard to tell if Zune MarketPlace offers a better deal or not. Watching Microsoft and their actions so far we expect to see a huge storefront with just about everything we could ever need or want in music and movies. We doubt Microsoft will allow the Zune Live service to suffer when it appears the service is what is most important to them.

New music fans that invest in more than 15 cd’s per year will find the Zune Pass a wonderful way to really sample new music. The ability to download and play new music risk free is certain to expand your musical tastes and will open Zune owners up to a whole new world of music. If a subscription based service is not your cup of tea you can still buy songs or movies.

We do not consider a portable media player to be a viable solution for long term storage of your collection. For your favorite albums or movies we suggest your purchase hard copy CD or DVD compilations. The purchase of digital music should be considered limited by the inevitable device failure or loss of data as well as DRM restrictions enforced by content providers.

An added benefit to being a Zune owner will come when the Zune MarketPlace is opened up to new artists wishing to sell their music without a label through the Zune player and music services. You’ll hear more about that later.

iPod vs Zune Hardware and Features specifications

As for hardware and features, now that Microsoft has matched prices, the Zune is a much better value for the average or new user. The Windows software and integration with our existing "digital lifestyle" will make the Zune a great choice for PC owners and Xbox fans. The Zune is not the best MP3 player on the market but when coupled with the available features and services it offers the best bang for the buck. If you are a high end audio fan you may appreciate a different player but for the rest of the world the Zune rocks.

The hardware specs are awesome. The 400 MHZ processor is capable of much more than audio video playback. This processor will support gaming features with ease. The 30GB hard drive is standard. Some may wish for more but with the integration with Windows XP and Vista we’re hoping moving data back and forth wont be so difficult. Why people need to carry their entire collection around is beyond us but the Zune offers plenty of storage for the money. With an FM tuner built in and an FM Transmitter available in the car pack you can pick up radio stations on the go and play back your Zune music through your car stereo system. The wireless lan module offers broadcast capabilities far beyond any comparable player.

The social networking capabilities of the wireless sharing seem destined to be extremely popular amongst the younger crowd. We can see Zune wifi parties popping up where kids drop in to swap songs and videos on their new Zune players. Seems far fetched but don’t expect Microsoft not to put a heavy push on this type of use. Building a generation of fans is a sure part of their goals for Zune.

Some have decried the limitations in the Zune in regards to the wifi features as well as the DRM scheme. The Zune seems to be designed for a wider audience and kids are a big part of the plan. We expect many of the wireless sharing limitations are a result of security concerns with sharing files in pubic. The Zune DRM is more restrictive in some ways but does allow for portable user to user sharing capabilities which requires heavier licensing fees from recording studios. The DRM restrictions will effect a small percentage of the market and not the average Zune user.

The new Microsoft DRM will some day allow an army of Zune musicians and artists of all kinds the opportunity to promote their music on the Zune MarketPlace. The DRM will facilitate user generated content sales and establish a robust market place similar to what is being done with the Xbox Live and XNA Framework.

The inevitable merging of the Zune and Xbox Live systems will create a powerful network of devices and services that will go beyond what any of us ever expected from our "digital lifestyle". With the help of Windows Vista and the Office Suite you may soon have the tools to manage your entire lifestyle.

We’re very excited to see what Zune becomes. If we’re lucky enough tehy will have a huge success and teh Zune will change they way people share music. Visit the Zune Boards and check out the discussion on Zune MP3 players.


Technical Specifications and Hardware Features

Microsoft Zune 30GB

Apple iPod Video 30GB

Here is a side by side comparison of the Zune MP3 Player and it’s top competitor the Apple iPod video player. These Zune specifications were compiled with the help of many Zune websites and fans including Zunerama.com


Capacity Claims by Manufacturer


  • Holds up to 7,500 songs
  • Holds up to 25,000 photos
  • Holds up to 100 hour video


  • Holds up to 7,500 songs
  • Holds up to 25,000 photos
  • Holds up to 40 hours video
Display 3″ LCD @
320×240 resolution
operates in landscape or portrait mode
2.5″ LCD @
Audio / Video Play Yes
plus AV output enabled
Audio formats


AAC, MP3, Audible, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV
Video formats
H.264, MPEG-4, WMV
H.264, m4v, mp4, mov, MPEG-4
FM receiver Yes, plus add on FM Transmitter accessory available
Accessory only
Height/Width 4.4 x 2.4 inches 4.1 x 2.4 inches

.58 inches .43 inch

5.6 ounces

4.8 ounces
Wireless Networking 802.11b/g (“Wi-Fi”) No
Wireless community features

Wireless Zune-to-Zune sharing. Zune lets you share selected full-length sample tracks of your recorded media

You can listen to any song you receive up to three times in three days. And if you hear and want to buy it, you can flag it right on your device to easily find it later.

features currently available
USB 2.0
USB 2.0
Battery Type
Li-Ion rechargeable, built-in
Li-Ion rechargeable, built-in
Battery life

12 hour Music play
3 hour Video

14 hours Music Play
3-1/2 for Video

Available Colors White, black, brown White, black
PC / Mac Compatibility PC only Mac and PC
Price $249.99


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