New Zune hardware, firmware and a few Zune HD tips

In all of the iPad madness, there was a bit of Zune news.  Microsoft revealed, much to my chagrin, that, on April 12, they would release a new 64gb Zune HD for $350.  While I am a bit puzzled with the timing, and wished they had released this AT THE START, the price is a bit high.  The $300 for the 16gb is high too.  Nonetheless, they are, unlike the speculation that followed the Windows Phone 7 announcements, not abandoning Zune as a hardware platform just yet.

Microsoft also gave out more details and video on the new Zune HD 4.5 firmware update.  It contains the previously announced Smart DJ feature, Zune Picks on the device and the ability to browse the Marketplace while docked (and using the TV out feature.)  Also, more video support including AVI and XVID support.

Smart DJ lets you pick an artist and it will then look through your own catalog AND, provided you have WIFI turned on and available, from the Zune Marketplace if you have the Zune Pass.  Pretty cool.  The Zune Picks is similar to Apple’s Genius feature in iTunes and will select similar music to what you play the most.  The ability to browse and listen to music from Marketplace while docked is also pretty cool and turns the Zune HD into into a mini entertainment center.

No word on when the update will be made public except for the vague ‘in a few weeks.’


The Zune HD is, for the most part, pretty easy to use but there a few things that may not be terribly clear.  Here are two tips that may help.zunHDartistview

  • When searching the device for a particular song or artist, I had simply been scrolling through the list until I found what I wanted.   Depending on the size of your library, this can be quite tedious.  Well, there is an easier way.  Instead of scrolling through it all, simply tap the letter in the big square box.  For example, when you switch to Artist within Music, the first the you see is either the ‘#’ or the letter ‘a’ in a square box.  Tap it and you will be presented with the alphabet in a grid like arrangement.  Tap the letter that corresponds to the first letter of the song or artist that you are looking for and you will be whisked to the section of your library containing songs or artists that also begin with that letter.  Scroll from that point.  Saves time and is way less tedious.
  • When using the Twitter or Facebook apps, you may not always want the auto capitalize feature turned on.  It is pretty easy to disable.  Tap Settings, then Keyboard. You’ll see two options:  Auto Correct and Auto Capitalize.  Tap either to toggle them.  Tap the upper part of the screen twice to return to the main menu.


Tapping the center bar is always quicker in getting you back to the home screen than tapping the upper portion of the screen.

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