Microsoft spills the beans on new Zunes

Now that information about its new Zunes has popped up on gadget sites worldwide (and a couple of online retailers have mistakenly listed the devices), Microsoft has decided to make the new handheld media players official. According to CNet News, the fall 2008 Zune lineup includes a 120GB hard-drive based player and smaller, flash-based devices with 16GB and 8GB capacities.

The 120GB Zune will cost $249 (the same as the older 80GB model), while the 16GB Zune will supplant its 8GB second-gen predecessor at $199. Microsoft will also charge $149 for the third-gen 8GB flash device.

This Zune refresh isn't just about new hardware, though. CNet News says the new players will let users download songs through the built-in Wi-Fi feature, and they'll also recommend songs both by theme and based on what users listen to. For instance, a Zune "channel" might include nothing but work-out music. Last, but not least, the new devices will support Audible audio-books.

Apple is expected to unveil new iPods at an event today, so the new Zunes should have heated competition right out of the starting gate.

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