As we all know, it's going to be MP3 player day today so let's stick with the theme:
They may not be on sale anywhere else in the world yet (apparently for self imposed quality concerns?!) but Microsoft has unveiled its third generation of Zunes for the US market.
On the hardware side, the previously leaked 120GB HDD edition is now official along with a much expected 16GB capacity bump (and blue paint job) for the flash based line. Prices are also quite attractive at $249.99 and $199 respectively.
Of arguably more interest however is the release of new Zune software (v3.0) which will be available to all current and previous Zune generations and represents the single smartest upgrade to the line to date bringing a number of useful updates.
Highlights of which include 'Channels' (accessible subscription or PAYG-esque music lists ranging from the Billboard Top 100, to radio playlists), 'Personal Picks' (an algorithm based tool which learns your music preferences and suggests new artists, albums and tracks) and 'Zune Social' (an online space for user(s) to share their favourite music on so-called 'Zune Cards' which can be sampled and/or downloaded over WiFi).
Other notable new features a spit and polish of the overall UI (noticeably for the better), two new free games ('Hexic' and 'Texas Hold Em') and the long awaited support for audiobooks as well as the audible format.
The new players and features will launch on 16 September and it may just mean there is life still in this struggling brand. How much, on the other hand, may depend on what Apple announces today...