The Microsoft Zune HD is going to change the way we think of or use mobile devices. I have always been reserved when it came to the Zune lineup of MP3 players, as the Apple iPod line has always offered better alternatives. As soon as I saw the feature lineup of the Zune HD though, I knew I had to buy one.
Packing an OLED screen, HD Radio tuner, NVIDIA Tegra chipset, and HD video playing capabilities, it turns into handheld multimedia hub, not just a media player with apps.
The design is very sophisticated, but not as artsy as an iPod. Microsoft chose to go with brushed metal and visible screws (yes there are panels held together with something on this!) mated with a glass front with a mirror finish trim for the screen border (see here).
The Zune HD offers a 3.3-inch OLED multi-touch screen. The pre-loaded images are designed to show off the fantastic screen colors; even tilting the screen flat doesn't seem to distort the colors at all.
Just like the iPod, the front is very clean, with only a single button, taking advantage of an onboard keypad for more detailed input.
The Zune HD is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra chipset which brings snappy performance, regardless of if you are browsing the web or playing 720p video from the device itself.
The user interface is very quick, almost too fast at times. The multi-touch input picks up finger movement without a problem, although the screen does need some "breaking in" in regards to oils to make movement smoother.
As a first step, you are required to Sync with the Zune software, which today took two updates to the software on your computer, and another for the Zune HD itself to get it running.
The current app store is limited, with a few teaser applications currently, but I fully expect more in the near future. Microsoft has promised 3D games and other apps, including Facebook and Twitter clients.
Right now I have been spending my time downloading the HD marine podcast videos, just so I have something to watch on my Zune.
Internet access was easy to set up, and page rendering is fairly quick. It appears the browser wants to load the entire page before showing it, instead of rendering pages in chunks as the user scrolls down. The end result is a slightly slower initial page load, but no delay to move around the page thereafter.
Rotating the screen is also extremely fun, as the screen changes orientation right as you are tilting the device, without any lag.
Stay tuned for the full review of the Zune HD. But I must say that unless this starts on fire and burns down my house, there is really no way to make me not love it.
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