Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Zunes Keep Getting Better. Watch Out Apple!

I mentioned back in October and September that the Zune would make a great gift, and was far better than the iPod Nano of the same price. Zunes are now an even better value. Their prices have been reduced. The Zune desktop software has been updated. The device firmware also receives an update that improves reliability and includes new multiplayer games.

New prices for the Zune are $99 (4gb), $139(8gb), and $179(16g). The 8ogb and 120gb Zunes remain $229 and $249 respectively. For comparison an 8gb Nano is $149.99 and a 16gb nano is $199.99 A 120gb iPod Classic sells for $249.99.

The Zune software update adds new features in addition to usual fixes. The 3.1 upgrade includes a visual overhaul for the Zune Social feature, and easier navigation. Also added is a "like minded listeners" feature that shows users other Zune Social members that tend to play similar music.

All Zune devices now get 5 free games, including Checkers, Hexic, Space Battle, Sudoku, and Texas Hold'em. Both Checkers and Texas Hold'em can be played via WiFi against other Zunes! I only have two Zunes to test, but can confirm that multiplayer works great for both games. I don't know if the Texas Hold'em game supports more than two players, but it should. One Zune has to Host the game after which another one (or more) can Join.

The Samsung P2 and T10 can play games wirelessly (via Bluetooth) between devices. As far as I know Microsoft is only the second MP3 player manufacturer to utilize a wireless technology for game play. Bluetooth has a range of about 10 meters (30 feet). Wifi has potentially more range, and leads to the possibility of neighbors playing Poker (or Checkers) with each other even though everyone is in their own home. If you have children who don't mind playing with each other, the amazing wifi song-sharing and game play of the Zune make it a GREAT gift to get them all.

I'm personally a Sudoku addict. I've got a two Sudoku games on my iPod Touch and one on my Samsung Instinct phone. The Sudoku game now on the Zunes is a great implementation, and includes Classic, Mini, and Custom (you create them) puzzles. There are Easy, Normal, and Hard modes. If you don't know the game there is a Learn-to-Play option. It's only a 4 page (screen)description of the rules, but it will be enough to get you started and addicted.

If you were on the edge about which MP3 player to buy, these Zune updates should push you over. Microsoft has the right idea. They may have stolen it from Samsung. With free updates the devices get better and better. The Zune was born with great hardware. This update makes even better use of the WiFi chip in all of them. Well done, Microsoft!

My Conclusion? Get a Zune. Get a Zune. GET A ZUNE!


No comments:

Post a Comment