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CNET First Look
Microsoft Zune 120 (third generation, black)The Zune 120, with a unique focus on music discovery, is a fierce competitor to the iPod Classic. The Zune's substantial storage capacity combined with its Zune Pass music subscription makes it an ideal solution for restless music fans with large appetites.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:04 >> Hey, I'm Donald Bell, Senior Editor for Digital Audio and MP3 and today we're taking a first look at the new Zune 120. This is the third-generation of the Zune MP3 player, but looking at the hardware there's really only a few cosmetic differences that distinguish it from last year's model. The back has gone from silver to black and the face of the Zune 120 now uses a high-gloss plastic instead of the matte finished metal used on the Zune 80, otherwise you've still got the same 3.2 glass-covered screen, the Zune Pad navigation control, the proprietary dock connection, headphone output, hold switch, and a plastic window that covers up the Zune's WiFi antenna. But the real updates to the Zune 120 are all under the hood in the firmware. The Zune's main menu now has two new items for games and Marketplace. Two games are included with more in the works but this is mostly just Zune keeping up with the iPod. One of the more innovative new features is the Marketplace which lets you browse and preview new music from the Zune Marketplace store that you can download immediately or save for later in your cart. The feature is similar to the iTunes WiFi store which is available on the iPod Touch or iPhone only the Zune 120's combination of subscription music support and higher capacity means you can really go nuts with wireless downloads. Another new addition is a Buy From FM feature that lets you tag music you hear on the radio and add songs to your cart as you would a Marketplace song. Song tagging doesn't work with every station, but many of the big broadcasters worked with the feature immediately. Microsoft has improved the Zune's ability to hop onto WiFi hotspots including hotspots that use password protection. There's also small little changes such as a device lock code, a clock, and support for audio books from Audible and OverDrive. The fact that Microsoft really hasn't updated the Zune's hardware from last year's model also means that things like audio quality and battery life haven't budged either. You can still expect 4 hours of video playback and around 25 to 30 hours of audio, but the lack of any kind of [inaudible] control can be frustrating. Compared to the iPod classic the Zune 120 is slightly larger and can't come close to Apple's rated 36 hours of audio playback. You do get a larger screen however, which is much better for watching TV shows and video podcasts. I'm Donald Bell and that was your first look at the Zune 120. ^M00:02:08 [ Music ]