What if Apple had kept their third-gen Nano long and skinny? It looks like someone at Microsoft must have asked that same question. The 8GB Zune shown here packs an incredible range of features into a device that can be squeezed into even the tightest jeans.
One of the biggest advances on the latest Zune MP3 players is the new Zune Pad navigation interface. That quarter-size circle (squircle?) on the lower half of the Zune works as both a touch pad and a four-way click pad with a center select button. It sounds complicated, but it's actually very intuitive. Buttons for the menu and for play/pause sit in the top left and right corners of the pad. Is it just us, or does the Zune navigation look like Mickey Mouse's head?
The earbud-style headphones included with the 4GB and 8GB Zune MP3 players include three pairs of colored foam sleeves. Aside from the Zune logo on the side of the earbuds, Microsoft sneaked another little design detail onto their earbuds: magnets on the back of each 'bud that snap together for easy storage.
At just 0.4 inch thick, the 4GB and 8GB Zune MP3 players are superskinny--especially when you consider that Microsoft has packed a Wi-Fi antenna inside. This photo also shows off the Zune's predominantly aluminum construction.
Sitting between the second-gen and third-gen Apple iPod Nanos, the 8GB Zune holds its own with a 1.8-inch screen, a built-in FM radio, subscription music support, and Wi-Fi sync and sharing functionality.
The top edge of the 8GB Zune has a mix of the mundane and the exotic. From left to right, you can see a necklace loophole, Wi-Fi antenna window, and a button hold switch. Because of the Zune's mostly metal construction, the mirrored plastic window gives the Wi-Fi antenna some room to breathe.
The Zune's backside shows off the mirrored plastic Wi-Fi antenna window (top), as well as the etchings on the anodized aluminum case. Microsoft is also offering custom-etched Zunes from their ZuneOriginals.net Web site.