The new Zunes are here, hot on the heels of last week's iPods. While the Zune hardware hasn't changed much since last year's models, our photo galleries of the Zune 120 and the Zune 16 are definitely worth a look if you're considering grabbing a Zune for the holidays or updating from a previous version.
If you missed the Zunewe posted Monday, be sure to give those a look, too. It seems like the bulk of the third-generation Zune's improvements are in the new software and firmware upgrades. If you already own a first- or second-generation Zune, Microsoft will be treating you to a free software and firmware upgrade today that includes all the new third-generation features. Let's just hope the upgrade goes .
Among the Zune's new firmware features are the ability to browse, preview, and purchase songs from the Zune Marketplace directly from your Zune over Wi-Fi, as well as a new FM-radio-tagging feature for earmarking songs from the radio that you may want to purchase later. Zune is also putting its own spin on the Rhapsody Channels concept, allowing you to sign up to automatically receive a selection of music every week curated by notable radio DJs and genre experts.
Microsoft doesn't beat you over the head with the idea, but Zune users will probably want to drop some money on a Zune Pass music subscription in order to really take advantage of the device's new music discovery options. Otherwise, many of the new features will offer only 30-second song samples with the option to buy. As someone who's used a Zune Pass for about a year now, I can say the service is very liberating if your music appetites are larger than your wallet, and you're OK with the idea of your music being wrapped up tight with DRM.
Stay tuned for my full review of the new third-generation Zunes.