As of May 6, Zune Marketplace will start selling TV shows for 160 points (about $2.00) a pop. For the initial launch, the store will offer 800 episodes from a variety of stations, including NBC and Sci Fi, as well as those that comprise MTV Networks and Turner Broadcasting. That's right, Zune owners: you can boast to your iPod-toting frenemies that you can watch The Office and Heroes on the go without recording, conversion, or BitTorrent woes. (It's the little things that count, right?) Thanks to the increased video selection, the Marketplace will now feature a dedicated video tab, which lets users easily search for all types of videos. (Previously, music videos were just thrown into the music section.) The TV shows, which come in 640x480 resolution, can also be streamed to the Xbox 360.
The Zune Software has also been updated with an enhanced video collection section to help users organize a greater variety of content. Namely, you can now browse videos by genre or TV series. In addition, the update includes the capability to preview selections in full screen as well as edit video tags.
Microsoft also announced a variety of other enhancements to the software, service, and even the Zune itself. Many of the updates, which are outlined below, are based on user feedback and should serve to make the software experience considerably smoother--definitely a welcome change.
- Gapless playback: This may be the biggest piece of news for Zune owners. The feature will be automatically enabled for both the Zune Software and the player, but unlike with iTunes, the desktop software doesn't need to analyze every album in your library. Rather, the Zune itself makes the call on an album-by-album basis. Fabulous.
- Autoplaylists: Why spend 20 minutes to an hour creating a playlist when software can do it for you? Use a variety of parameters (rating, genre, and year) to generate playlists with minimal effort. The rules will continue to monitor newly added tracks and add them to the playlist, so it's constantly updated.
- Drag-and-drop metadata error fix: You may have noticed a tendency of the Zune Software to split one album into two or more copies, with three tracks here and five over there (common on albums with multiple artists). Now, there's a simple fix: drag one copy to another and they'll rejoin. You can also use this method for other metadata errors, such as dragging a song to a certain artist or an album to a specific genre. On a related note, the software will now allow browsing by genre, a previously absent capability.
- The Social: Many updates have been made to the community aspect of the Zune and its software, not the least of which is the capability to transfer other users' Zune Cards to the player. If you have a Zune Pass, you'll actually get full tracks from the users' collections (up to 18 with each card transferred). In an effort to get new users involved, those who join the Social will automatically be connected with the top music editors from the Zune team. Other changes include the capability to review albums, improved reputation scores, and an improved landing page.
Curious about the innards of your Zune? Check back soon for photos of a complete Zune teardown.