The Zune 80 is part of Microsoft's second generation of media players that compete with Apple's iPods; the Zune 80 competing directly with the iPod Classic. With the second generation of products Microsoft is refining the Zune experience expanding the WiFi sharing capabilities, and file format support. The hardware is also updated with a larger screen and a touch sensitive pad that can be used for quickly scrolling through menus. Microsoft's previous generation, renamed the Zune 30, will not be discontinued and is instead being updated with the latest features through a new firmware.
- 3.2 inch screen with a 320x240 resolution
- 80GB hard drive
- WiFi capabilities for sharing music and photos with other zunes
- WiFi syncing with host computer
- Integrates with Zune marketplace
- FM Radio with RDS support
- Image formats: JPEG
- Audio formats: unprotected AAC, MP3, WMA
- Video formats: h.264, MPEG4, WMV
The screen can be used in portrait mode when navigating menus, and flipped on its side to landscape mode for viewing widescreen videos. Directly underneath the screen lies the touch pad which has been improved over the Zune 30's by providing touch sensitive operations reminiscent of the iPod. Playback of the new video formats is supported natively so the Zune software no longer has to convert videos into the WMV format. Microsoft also claims that the Zune Marketplace will begin to offer video and podcast content, though currently the only videos are music videos and not television/movies. The Zune also supports television out, and can accommodate videos with DVD resolution for better quality on a big screen.
Microsoft raised some eyebrows when it launched the first Zune Marketplace abandoning its own PlayForSure initiative. The Zune continues this trend seeing the marketplace improved by expanding its audio content, and offering unprotected music. A subscription option to the Marketplace remains. With the next-generation Zunes, Microsoft introduces what they are calling the Zune Social, which is a social network to connect Zune owners. The network shares what music your friends are listening to, tracks the top music, and allows friends to listen to 30 second previews of music on your playlist.
The Zune's WiFi capabilities have also been expanded. Previously, music shared with other Zunes had two major restrictions: the music was only available for three days after the fact, and the second Zune could only play the song three times. Microsoft is lifting the restriction on the number of days, but the three-time playback restriction remains. Similar to before, there are no restrictions on sharing photos. Limits on video sharing remain to be seen. The WiFi sync allows you transfer music from your computer without a physical connection. When the Zune gets into wireless range of the computer the sync will happen automatically.