Microsoft Unveils Red, 80-Gbyte Zune For Valentine's Day

Wi-Fi capabilities and a bright, 3.2-inch screen mean the device can do more than play silly love songs, Microsoft says.
Microsoft fired the latest salvo in the MP3 wars Tuesday, introducing an 80-Gbyte version of its Zune music player that comes in red -- just in time for Valentine's Day.

Buyers can choose to have the device engraved with one of several marking schemes "inspired by the themes of love and sharing," Microsoft said.

Consumers can also add to the graphics a custom Valentine's message of up to three lines of text. The Valentine's Day Zune is priced at $249, according to Microsoft.

The company also said it's planning to offer Valentine's Day song playlists -- featuring love songs in genres ranging from hip hop to '80s -- for purchase on its Zune Marketplace Web site.

The new player joins a revamped Zune lineup that includes the ultra-portable 4 Gbytes and 8 Gbytes models, available in pink, green, black, and red, and a standard 80-Gbyte Zune that comes in black.

Last year, Microsoft introduced a Zune emblazoned with colors and themes from its smash hit Halo 3 video game.

In widening the variety of Zune players on the market, Microsoft is apparently listening to its critics. The company was widely knocked for releasing the original Zune player in just three colors -- black, brown, and white -- when it debuted in late 2006.

In updating the Zune line, Microsoft is also putting heat on Apple, whose iPod digital music player leads the market.

But Apple isn't standing still. On Tuesday at MacWorld, the company announced new software for its iPod Touch. The $19.99 upgrade adds wireless e-mail, maps, weather, and stock quotes.

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