Zune price and date: $249, November 14th

It's only fair and wise for Microsoft wait until the dust settles before coming to some hard and fast decisions on the release and pricing of a device being posed to take out the iPod. Now that everyone's reacted to the many posts on prospective and vaugely officious prices and theories, it would appear they've settled on $249.99 (not to be undercut by Apple after all), and will be launching the device in the US market on November 14th. Other pricing includes individual tracks for 79 Microsoft points apiece, and your standard $14.99 monthly fee for the Zune Pass service; Microsoft's also released some details on the Zune accessory line, which will run between $19.99 and a hundred bucks for:

  • Zune Home A/V Pack ($100 - dock, remote, AV cables, extra battery, sync cable, adapter)

  • Zune Travel Pack ($100 - Dual Connect remote, premium headphones, bag, cable, and adapter)

  • Zune Car Pack ($80 - FM tuner, car charger)

  • AV cable ($20)

  • AC adapter ($30)

  • sync cable ($20)

  • car charger ($24)

  • dock (with AV output, but no AV cable for $40)

  • wireless remote (for control of zune dock, $30)

  • Dual Connect remote (for inline control and splitting the audio out for two people, $30)

  • Zune FM Transmitter (with autoseek, which finds the optimal station and, at $70, the optimal way to sap your cash),

  • gear bag (which, um, contains all these friggin' expensive accessories, itself $30)

  • ... and premium earphones (sound isolating canalphones for $40)

It'll also, as you may have heard, come with a ton of preloaded content from such bands as CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexy, not cascading style sheets), Band of Horses, The Rakes, The Thermals, etc., and videos from Serena-Maneesh, The Fruit Bats, and even some film shorts and images of classic rock posters (huh?). We'd kind of hoped the whole pandering to the disenfranchised iPod user might have resulted in more included (or at very least cheaper) accessories, but $20 for a USB cable is indeed low hanging fruit that apparently not even the artful Zuners could pass up.