New Zunes embrace FM radio, wireless downloads and games

Microsoft steals Apple's thunder with impressive trio of MP3 players

New Zunes coming soon to the US

Just a day before Apple unveils a flock of new iPods for Christmas, Microsoft has fired a salvo of Zunes across its bows in America.

The three new Zunes on offer are a 120GB hard drive version ($250) and two flash models (16GB for $200, 8GB for $150) – the latter two available in a pleasantly shiny shade of blue as well as silver and black.

Wireless smarts

New features for this generation of Zunes start with Buy From FM, where radio listeners can tag their favourite songs to buy from the Zune Marketplace. There's no indication yet whether the Zune analyses the song (a la Sony Ericsson's TrackID) or receives embedded signals in the FM broadcast.

More intriguing is the possibility of wireless downloads from 'thousands of hotspots around the US', to include Marketplace access and Zune Channels – personalised playlists from pop stars and radio stations. Expect a link-up with a nationwide network like T-Mobile.

Finally, you can use your Zune for gaming too, with a variety of free games to download including Texas Hold 'Em Poker and Hexic.

All of which sounds pretty exciting today, but give us 24 hours and we'll see how the feature list stands up once Jobs and co have had their say...