Microsoft has introduced the long-awaited Zune HD. With its OLED touchscreen and NVIDIA Tegra HD processor, this is more than a simple MP3 player — it sports a web browser and support for mobile gaming, in addition to its music and video playback capabilities.
With its new features, this device is approaching the what’s offered by its top rival, the Apple iPod touch. Still, Microsoft’s offering is missing a few things to have parity, like a dedicated e-mail app.
The latest version of the Zune has a 3.3-inch OLED display with multi-touch, and the user interface has been revamped to support this new feature. Among the changes are the new Quickplay menu, which lists favorites, last played items and media most recently added.
Earlier models had an FM radio built in, and the new one tops that with an HD radio. It also has Wi-Fi.
There are two versions of the Zune HD: one with 16 GB of built-in storage, one with 32 GB.
This device has a tablet shape that measures 4.0 inches by 2.0 inches by 0.3 inches (52.7 mm x 102.1 mm x 8.9 mm), and 2.6 ounces.
Microsoft promises that the Zune HD offers up to 33 hours of music or up to 8.5 hours pf video playback.
Games and Other Apps
Zune HD also lets users play games and use other apps, such as a calculator and an MSN Weather application.
Later this year, Microsoft plans to release free applications such as Twitter for Zune and Facebook for Zune, in addition to 3-D games such as Project Gotham Racing: Ferrari Edition, Vans Sk8: Pool Service, and Audiosurf Tilt.
Games can be added to Zune HD via Zune Marketplace over the Wi-Fi connection or when connected to the Zune PC software.
Rather than buying individual tracks, owners of this device have the option to become Zune Pass subscribers and get access to close to 6 million songs from the Zune Marketplace catalog for $14.99 a month,
They can also log into Zune.net and stream full albums and tracks through a computer’s browser.
A new Smart DJ feature will queue song recommendations from both the customer’s collection and from more than 6 million tracks in the Zune Marketplace. Those who aren’t Zune Pass subscribers can still use Smart DJ on their local music collection.
HD = High Definition
For the first time, standard- and high-definition (HD) movies can be purchased or rented through the Zune Marketplace online store.
In addition, consumers now have the ability to store and play back 720p HD video files to an HDTV using the new Zune HD AV dock accessory ($80). Consumers can buy or rent HD content from the Zune Marketplace, sync that content to a Zune HD device, and take it with them to play back on a large-screen HDTV in their home or on the road.
Pricing and Availability
The Zune HD is launching today at major retailers. There is black 16 GB version for $220 and a platinum 32 GB version for $290.
Additional red, green, and blue devices are available in both capacities from Zune Originals, where customers can also customize the back of the Zune HD with art and text etchings.