Beginning September 16th, Zune owners will be able to access the latest firmware update: Zune 3. This update will be available to all Zune devices...even all the way back to the original Zune! This unexpected (but seriously cool) feature is sure to please the Zune early adopter crowd. However, the real excitement for Zune owners involves what the Zune 3 update will offer: some amazing features you won’t find on any other mp3 player today.
Buy From FM
One of the new features of the Zune 3 firmware will let you wirelessly stream and download millions of songs on the go any time you’re in a Wi-Fi hotspot. This feature, called “Buy From FM” is designed to take advantage of the built-in FM tuner in the Zune. You’ll be able to tag and purchase songs you hear on FM radio and download them directly to your Zune. If you’re in a Wi-Fi hotspot, the download will be immediate. If Wi-Fi isn’t available, the songs will queue up to be downloaded the next time it is or the next time you connect your Zune to your PC.
You’ll also be able to connect to the Zune Marketplace music store whenever your Zune is in a Wi-Fi hotspot or on your home wireless network. On the device itself, you can browse through new releases, top songs, top albums, or type on an on-screen keyboard to type in the song of your choice.
Recommendations & Channels
Another feature included in the Zune 3 update is the new recommendation feature. Using the combination of recommendations from the Zune service, the online music community, and your own play data, you’ll be recommended personal suggestions as the Zune software learns what you like. You’ll see these recommendations in a new area of the Zune Marketplace called “Picks.”
Zune Pass subscribers can also discover new music through Channels. These Channels are created by experts in the music community. Here’s you’ll find channels like the Billboard Top 100, the FADER magazine channel, the KEXP radio channel, and even channels designed for listening to while you workout. You’ll also see personalized channels that are based on your favorite artists and genres. Zune owners who don’t have a Zune pass can purchase new Channels a la carte.
For Zune Pass customers, the new firmware will also offer an updated way to use the Zune Card functionality. Zune Pass subscribers can share Zune Cards with each other wirelessly when on-the-go. All Zune owners will be able to share the Cards with friends when they’re on the web.
Also included in the update are some new visual effects: Mixview and Now Playing. In Mixview, you can select an artist, album, or Zune Card and see a visual mosaic of related music and listeners. As you click on the mosaic, you’ll be taken in new directions, allowing you to discover music in a visually appealing way.
Image credit: Wired
The “Now Playing” view has also been improved to display artist imagery, colorful effects, artist bio info, and data from the Zune community in a full-screen view.
Games & Audiobooks
The firmware update will offer two free games - “Hexic” and “Texas Hold ‘Em.” It will also feature audiobook support from both Audible.com and OverDriver.com.
Of course, the Zune lineup is being expanded, too. The lineup will feature 16GB and 120GB Zunes and new blue-on-silver and all-black color schemes.
Here’s the pricing info:
120 GB: $249.99
80 GB: $229.99 (3)
16 GB: $199.00
8 GB: $149.99
4 GB: $129.99 (3)