On Monday, we heard that Microsoft would be unexpectedly launching the Zune 2 the next day. Most of Tuesday went by without an official announcement, leaving us with only an FCC filing to consider. Turns out that Bill Gates wanted an evening event, because it wasn’t until pretty late on Tuesday night that his company revealed the second-generation Microsoft Zune. All three versions of it.
The biggest model, to be available in black only, will carry 80GB of internal memory and will take on the same role as the iPod Classic in some ways. It’s got a big 3.2-inch color screen for the best mobile movie-watching experience, but both its footprint and thickness have been reduced. This version will retail for $249.
The two other models are perhaps more exciting. Ditching the hard drive, the pair of Flash Zunes will offer 4GB or 8GB of internal memory for $149 or $199, respectively. They mimic the appearance of their 80GB brethren in many ways, except being quite a bit smaller, sort of like the 2nd-generation iPod nano. Look for these in red, pink, black and green.
Common to all three models is the new Zune Pad, a touch sensitive control pad that replaces the five-way navigator. Slide your finger to fumble through the user interface. The WiFi has also been unlocked for automatic synchronization in the presence of a wireless home network.