Imnotsayin's lovely and well-connected GF received an invite to Microsoft's fancy preview party for their shiny new iPod-aspiring Zune player, which means while you were home cheering election results, we were in nerd nervana at a west side loft.
The party was suitably funktastic: lots of video projections, color gobos, the requisite freight-elevator entrance, and Norwegian hipsters 120 Days
rocking the house. We got a personal demo of the device itself from a likeable kid who was on the Zune design team.
The music player is similar in size to the latest-gen iPods, but a noticable amount lighter, and - more significantly - sports a huge 3-inch color LCD that dominates the device's face, making video-watching much more attractive than on Apple's player.
But Zune's biggest play (based on the marketing campaign at least) comes from its ability to wirelessly share music with other Zunes. All Zune models ship with a built-in wi-fi transceiver. Much like the Nintendo DS (and horny 20-year-olds), the units seek out other nearby Zunes, showing a real-time list of who else is in range. Nearby Zuners can send you actual song files, which can be played up to three times within 72 hours. After that, the DRM genie goes back in the bottle, but the song information remains stored - and readily available for paid download from the Zune online music store.
All the marketing materials play on the 'music is social' theme; for once, Microsoft is fronting an original idea - one that should at least turn some heads. My long-time music-player-fantasy killer-app is NOT built into Zune, though: direct wireless access to the online music store, allowing you to buy that great track you just heard in the club, before the fifth tequila shot erases all recollection of the evening. Maybe just as well...
But the party's biggest breakthrough had to be the one inch tall bacon cheeseburger micro-editions served up by the catering staff. Really: burger patty, cheddar, bacon, even a tiny hamburger bun with poppy seeds - everything downsized to a two finger, one-bite package that means pocket Happy Meals and nanotech Whoppers can only be a Chinese New Year or two away!
Previously: Microsoft Gets All Hip and UndergroundZune Homepage