80GB Zune

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80GB Zune: Hands On Review


The only thing better than a Zune is a bigger 80GB Zune of course. The 80GB version costs $489.98 total and has no warranty from Microsoft. Compared to limited edition pink Zunes that sell on ebay for $800+ we think the 80 Gigger is a steal. Ipodmods.com offers replacement hard drives in 30GB, 40GB, 60GB and 80GB sizes. They even offer free installation with the purchase of a drive. Our drive of choice was the Toshiba 80GB MK8009GAH which sells for around $240.

The 80GB Zune has the exact same dimensions as the 30GB Zune, unlike the 80GB iPod which is larger than it's 30GB version. Since there is room inside for a larger hard drive, why aren't they being sold at retail stores? There are 2 possible answers to that question.

In order to install the thicker 80GB drive a protective metal casing must be removed from inside the Zune. This casing shields the drive against crushing forces that may occur when the drive is stepped on, sat on, or otherwise abused. The Zune design team may have felt removing this piece would jeopardize the structural integrity of the player. On the other hand, perhaps they kept the drive small to allow for a lower price point and a future development path for a larger capacity Zune 2.0 device.

The stock 30GB Zune holds over 7000 tracks of music which is not shabby, but movies take up a lot more space than mp3's. A 30GB Zune may hold around 25 full length movies at best.

The 80GB Zune can hold around 70 full length movies. Another thing to consider is that the Zune pass subscription allows for "all you can eat" music downloads. The larger capacity drive allows you to to really go overboard at the music buffet. Finally, with a registry tweak the Zune can be used as a mass storage device and could double as an off site backup for your PC.

For those who like to tinker, we'll go through the steps of installing a new hard drive. It's actually quite easy. Zune Scene is not reponsible for any damage or loss of warranty to your device, DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK. Grab an extra small phillips and flathead screwdriver. Start by popping out the the metal piece at the USB port.

Removing the piece exposes 2 small phillips screws. Be careful not to lose them.

We didn't use a magnetic screwdriver, but it would have made things easier. Remove the 2 srews.

Use the flathead to pry open the case, start at the bottom. The case will appear to hinge at the top once it's opened at a 15 degree angle. Just wiggle it a little bit to get the top off.

Next remove the 2 ribbon cables at the bottom of the Zune, just loosen the brown connector and they slide out. One leads to the battery the other to the directional pad.

Remove 2 phillips screws at the bottom of the player. These hold the drive case to the printed circuit board. They are a little bit longer than the other two screws so don't mix them up.

Finally peel back any stickers holding the drive and remove it from the Zune. Peel back the stickers holding the drive to it's protective casing and discard the casing.

Replace the old drive with the new one. Keep the rubber pads on the left and right. (If you are installing a 30GB or 40GB drive you should keep the protective metal casing.) Put everything back together and turn the device on.
Installing the firmware is a cakewalk. Instructions are provided right on your Zune. Step 1 says plug it in to your PC.

At this point a message will open on the PC saying it's time to update the firmware. Step 2 is to proceed with the update. The whole process may take 3-5 minutes.

Check the storage capacity of the device, it should have 74GB of free space. Congratulations, you may be one of a few people in the world with a 80GB Zune. If you ever get social with the Zune, think of all the squirts you can receive, with room to spare.