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The day at Microsoft's campus started with a diorama--totally old school. The product manager showed us the Zune's innards and offered a breakdown on the bits and pieces.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by CNET Networks
These shots of the flash Zune start with the back cover removed; You can see the back of the battery and processor. Microsoft worked very closely with Wolfson to create a custom audio chip, rather than the off-the-shelf model that was used in the original Zune. The flash-based Zune offers a signal-to-noise ratio of 97dB as a result.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by CNET Networks
The Zune4 and Zune8 have two main high-density PCBs (printed circuit boards) that hold all of the electrical components and connect them together. In this shot, you can see both: one removed, and one still inside the player. In order to achieve thinner products, these boards are only 0.45mm thick, and contain 6 layers of "wires" or traces. The distance between layers is only 50um, and the traces can be as thin as 75um and spaced 75um apart. Being able to work on this small of a scale allows Microsoft to pack in a lot of functionality in small spaces.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by CNET Networks
The LCD panel has been removed and sits on the far left. The front panel of the player is on the far right. You can see the backside of the control pad, protected by its own metal panel.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by CNET Networks
The front of this Zune looks a little worse for wear. The control pad and buttons are off to the left. Note the touch-sensitive dots all around the squircle.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by CNET Networks
Most of the items called out here are pretty self-explanatory, except perhaps for the Power Management IC with Integrated Codec. This chip manages multiple power supplies to power all of the Zune components and handles the battery-charging functionality. It also has a built-in stereo audio DAC (digital-to-analog converter) as well as audio drivers necessary to send audio signals to the headphones and out the dock connector to play on loudspeaker accessories.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by CNET Networks
The LCD connector connects the cable from the LCD (liquid crystal display) to the PCB (printed circuit board) in order to allow information to travel from the processor to the display, while the DPad connector attaches to a cable running to the control pad. The two flash memory chips serve as the main memory for the Zune 4 and 8. Only time will tell if the dual sites allow for ultrahigh-capacity flash Zunes in the future--Microsoft execs weren't talking.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by CNET Networks
The freescale processor is where all of the software instructions take place. It is a 32-bit ARM core that can run at clock speeds up to 533MHz. The strength and speed allows for the fluidity of the graphically-heavy interface, offering a smooth user experience. The flash controller facilitates communication between the processor and the flash memory, while the DDR SDRAM is used to store temporary data necessary for the processor to execute software code. It communicates to the processor through a 32-bit parallel DDR (double data rate) interface at clock speeds up to 132MHz.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by CNET Networks
The board is larger, obviously, and there's only one: a high-density PCB that has 8 layers and is about 0.6mm thick. And here you have a hard-drive connector, which connects the cable from the hard drive to allow information to travel between the processor and the hard drive. The flash memory for the Zune 80 is much smaller in capacity (2MB) and contains only low-level software required for the device to boot. The rest of the software and all the media is stored in the hard drive.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by CNET Networks
What you won't find on the flash Zune is a TV encoder, which takes video data from the Zune 80's processor and converts it to analog TV signals to be sent out through the dock connector or the headphone jack. It supports both composite and component video formats. Both Zunes have an FM tuner that takes the FM radio broadcast signal from the headphone cable and converts it down to an audio signal to be routed back out to the headphone speakers for the user to listen to, as well as the USB PHY, a chip translates data to and from the processor to high speed (480MHz) USB in order to facilitate communication between the Zune and the host computer.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by CNET Networks
Microsoft was rocking this speaker in the "food room," where they stuffed visiting press with delicious Seattle food. The speaker, which retails for about $300, sounds very good. We hope to get a review unit soon.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by CNET Networks
The Zune plays nice with dual CD decks, a mixer, a sound board, and two turntables. Clearly, the player knows how to get social.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by CNET Networks
Microsoft decked out some M&Ms with the custom Zune logo. Cute.
Caption by CNET Reviews staff / Photo by CNET Networks
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