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  (Source: Engadget)
Zune HD can be pre-ordered today

Microsoft is holding steady at third place in the MP3 player market well behind Apple and behind second place SanDisk. Microsoft is still trying to woo customers to its Zune PMPs and has officially announced pricing and availability for its latest Zune player.

The Zune HD specifications and rumored pricing were leaked this week and today Microsoft has made pricing official. Redmond will be offering the 32GB Zune HD for $289.99 and the 16GB version will sell for $219.99.

Microsoft is taking pre-orders on the platinum 32GB Zune HD and a black 16GB Zune HD now online. The Zune HD devices can be purchased in stores on September 15. The pre-order devices are in the platinum or black colors only, but the device will be offered in five different colors and have ten different art engraving options.

The Zune HD is the first Microsoft PMP to offer a touch screen. While the specs on the HD leaked a while back, Microsoft has officially confirmed them the Zune HD will offer a HD radio receiver, HD video output, an OLED 3.3-inch screen with 480 x 272 resolution, integrated Wi-Fi, and a full internet browser. The device also runs the NVIDIA Tegra HD processor.

Along with the debut of the Zune HD device will come a slew of new accessories as well. The Zune AV Dock will connect the HD to your TV with 720p capability and will sell for $89.99, the Zune HD AV & Power Pack will sell for $49.99 and connect the Zune HD to the TV and keep it charged.

There will undoubtedly be a slew of other accessories coming from third-party vendors as well to lure money out of the pockets of new Zune HD owners.



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More Storage
By room200 on 8/13/2009 10:19:54 AM , Rating: 3
I want one of these, but I wonder why they didn't go step farther in put in 60gb or 80 gb storage? I don't know anything about the technology or if it's even possible to put it in these things, but I already have a Zune with 30gb. The new, lower cost Zune wouldn't even allow me to tranfer all of my music over.




RE: More Storage
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/13/2009 10:25:17 AM , Rating: 2
There is no excuse for this thing not to be available with a 64GB option at launch. It's almost a guarantee that Apple will release a 64GB iPod touch in September and it will most likely be at the $399 price mark.

That means that the 32GB and 16GB models will likely fall to $299 and $219 respectively.

Sure, the Zune still has the OLED screen over the iPod touch, but that's about it. I won't even talk about FM radio since Pandora > FM anyway ;)


RE: More Storage
By Warder45 on 8/13/2009 10:38:06 AM , Rating: 5
What about having a better DSP? or better hardware in general? And by FM you mean HD Radio?

I agree though that 64GB should be a launch option.


RE: More Storage
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/13/2009 10:55:28 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that should have been HD radio.

The Zune most likely will have better graphics hardware than whatever Apple can come up with with the next generation iPod touch, but MS needs to get the BASICS right first. And 64GB should be a given.


RE: More Storage
By Mitch101 on 8/13/2009 11:19:06 AM , Rating: 3
While I agree with everyone here on a 64gb version its most likely in the pipeline when 64gb SDHC memory is readily available. The design probably only allows for one memory chip but we wont know that until someone cracks it open.

I would have preferred to have an SDHC expansion slot instead.


RE: More Storage
By encryptkeeper on 8/13/2009 1:12:06 PM , Rating: 2
I would have preferred to have an SDHC expansion slot instead.

This is the one major thing both iPods, iPhones, and Zunes lack. And by the way, why is it that there are no Zune HDs or iPhones or iPod Touchs' with hard drives? Would they just be too big physically to carry around, or is it that having 120 GB or so of space would make too much sense?


RE: More Storage
By Smilin on 8/13/2009 1:30:34 PM , Rating: 4
HDD = bigger, drastically lower battery life, device becomes shock/drop succeptible, at lower capacities flash memory is a more cost effective storage solution.


RE: More Storage
By quiksilvr on 8/13/2009 5:57:29 PM , Rating: 4
People! This isn't the question that should be asked! The real question should be:

WHY ISN'T THIS A PHONE?!


RE: More Storage
By Mitch101 on 8/13/2009 6:06:46 PM , Rating: 2
Its coming.

Windows Mobile 6.5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH7IuD2aD_4

I've heard various things like 6.5 is the consumer version and 7.0 will be a corporate version. Could be the day Blackberry gets some competition? Exchange 2010?


RE: More Storage
By imaheadcase on 8/14/2009 1:46:28 AM , Rating: 4
Thats just a OS, he is talking about how this has so much potential as a phone but MS did not go that way. Almost every site that first heard rumors about the ZuneHD thought it was a phone by the leaks features when first heard of.


RE: More Storage
By Smilin on 8/17/2009 10:50:07 AM , Rating: 3
Settle down beavis.

Not everyone wants phone. Seriously why do I want to pay $99.95 a month just to listen to music?


RE: More Storage
By quiksilvr on 8/17/2009 7:52:27 PM , Rating: 2
There can be two, you know. A Zune HD and Zune HD Phone. Some people want to spend $99.95 for unlimited minutes, text, pictures, email, GPS, TV and internet access.


RE: More Storage
By Alexstarfire on 8/13/2009 12:18:40 PM , Rating: 2
So let me understand this. Internet radio that is only available part of the time > radio that works ALL the time? It's not like the Zune doesn't have internet capabilities. Though I don't know if that means you can listen to internet radio on it.


RE: More Storage
By Omega215D on 8/13/2009 5:01:07 PM , Rating: 3
No, Apple should get the basics right. Any portable media player should have good sound quality and not the flat/ drab chip that is placed in the iPods (I have an iPod Touch with high end headphones).

The OLED screen should also give the Zune better battery life without sacrificing in brightness. Yes they should have a 64GB player but 64GB is still quite costly and I doubt that Apple would have a 64GB that is around $350 - 400, something that MS or others try hard to do (save for Sony). Hell, the ZuneHD is in line with Cowon and Samsung's pricing of their S9 and P3's respectively and has more goodies to boot.


RE: More Storage
By ltcommanderdata on 8/13/2009 7:38:36 PM , Rating: 2
If I'm not mistaken, with the volumes of iPods that Apple ships and the multi-year contracts they always make with flash suppliers like Samsung and Toshiba (who just got a new one) to lock in prices, no other mp3 player maker has lower flash memory component cost than Apple. Apple's flash memory demand adjustments have been reported to have caused temporary shortages in world flash memory supply and price fluctuations. If anyone can offer a 64GB mp3 player and continue doubling capacity while maintaining the same price point in a timely basis it'd be Apple.


RE: More Storage
By Einy0 on 8/14/2009 6:36:47 AM , Rating: 2
What's the point of having faster hardware if it won't be really used. Not to say MS couldn't take things to another level. I don't remember hearing anything about MS launching any Zune apps. I don't know how powerful this Nvidia chip is going to be my guess processor wise similar to an iPod touch since it's ARM7 core. I would assume 3D video wise it would have an advantage. You never know perhaps it won't... Multimedia playback it seems to have an advantage with HD playback. iPod touch, as much as I hate to admit it is really the king of portable media players... You get music, video, apps and decent games on one unit... Not to mention internet uses. As much as I like the idea of hooking up a portable media player to an HDTV how often will that feature get fully used. I'd say the PSP is the only device that compares feature wise... The PSP has a clunky, but usable interface, no real productive apps and a crappy internet experience. Not to mention no internal memory and stupid UMD discs to deal with until the new model comes out. The new model looks insanely uncomfortable to use with it's cramped controls.


RE: More Storage
By Smilin on 8/17/2009 10:51:25 AM , Rating: 2
Look at the history of Zune.

The 1.0 models can now do everything the latest ones can. If you sell hardware with absolutely no headroom then you can never improve the software.


RE: More Storage
By Complex Pants on 8/13/2009 10:55:12 AM , Rating: 3
Pandora > FM if you happen to have a wifi connection, which is not always the case. Also, unless you are paying for it, you can only listen to Pandora for a set amount of time. This is not the case with HD radio.

The HD radio option is a nice feature imo.


RE: More Storage
By Smilin on 8/13/2009 10:59:39 AM , Rating: 3
You act as if there is some technological hurdle?

It's just a matter of putting the more expensive chips in then jacking the price to make up for it. MS (and apple) can do this at their whim whenever the resulting price reaches a point that pleases consumers.

The Zune has a lot more going for it than an OLED screen too. Don't be obtuse, you know this.

That FM radio for example is an HD radio and it will tag songs for purchase directly on the device. Said songs can be downloaded at any wifi spot...which is really required for pandora too...oh, and why even have pandora when the Zune pass lets you do the same thing but pick your own songs. ... are you starting to see what I mean ... ?


RE: More Storage
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/13/2009 11:06:23 AM , Rating: 4
I'm not saying that it is a technological hurdle, but if you're going to go up against the gorilla in the room, at least match their capacities. It should be available AT LAUNCH -- believe me, people will buy it (64GB) at $399. Heck I would buy it at $399, but 32GB is not enough for music + 720p videos on a device with that gorgeous screen for viewing movies.

You don't go from being third place to challenging the top players by skimping out on how much users can cram on the device -- that is a basic necessity.

As I said in another post, get the basics right, then go for the throat with killer features.

Microsoft did the same crap with the original Zune. It had 30GB when the top iPods at the time were at 60GB or 80GB IIRC.


RE: More Storage
By Smilin on 8/13/2009 11:22:26 AM , Rating: 2
You won't break your competition by offering a device so expensive that most people laugh either. I wouldn't mind buying a 64gig at a high price but you and I are technophiles and not typical consumers. There is some bean counter somewhere doing the math on this.

Plus..With memory prices what they are if you release a 64gig model now, you leave no headroom to leapfrog with a product refresh. 128gig is not going to be affordable for a while yet.

Nothing is saying MSFT can't announce a 64 the moment apple does...they might even manage to hook people who just bought a 32.

The 30GB original zune was indeed weakly spec'd but there are reasons why. Microsoft took the Zune from an idea in an email to truckloads of shipping product, software, and an online service in 8 months. The Zune 30 may not have been spectacularly impressive but it's birth was.


RE: More Storage
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/13/2009 11:32:45 AM , Rating: 2
I understand what you're saying, but it wouldn't be "so expensive" compared to the iPod touch -- it would be at parity.

The current iPod touch range is 8GB ($229), 16GB ($299), and 32GB ($399).

I can almost 99.9% guarantee you that the 3G iPod touch will be 16GB ($229), 32GB ($299), and 64GB ($399).

The Zune HD is $219 for 16GB and $299 for the 32GB -- that's at price parity (slightly lower for the 16GB). It won't be "more expensive" to the consumer. You'd be getting a higher-spec'd device for the same money.

If MS was going to announce a 64GB Zune, they would have done it by now to throw the ball back in Apple's court for the iPod event next month.


RE: More Storage
By Alexstarfire on 8/13/2009 12:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
Speculate all you want. It matters little at this point.

BTW, why in the hell would you want to watch 720p videos on a screen that's not even 1/7th the size of the video? That just seems to be a very big waste of space if you ask me.


RE: More Storage
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/13/2009 12:42:24 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft seems to think you will. Aren't touting 720p output using an HDMI dongle?


RE: More Storage
By Alexstarfire on 8/13/2009 1:33:36 PM , Rating: 2
I have no idea. I haven't looked into it much since I don't plan on getting one. Even so, I couldn't use the HDMI output anyway, no HDTV. While it'd be nice to play it on a TV I don't see how the size matters that much then. You're obviously going to be next to a computer of some kind if you're going to watch 720p movies on a TV. So you can transfer stuff to and from it if need be. Not saying it's ideal, but it's not really much of an inconvenience. It's not like you could really watch a movie or something in 720p on your Zune legally.

The whole point to me is that it's portable. So you'd watch movies on the Zune and not the TV.


RE: More Storage
By Mitch101 on 8/13/2009 11:36:02 AM , Rating: 2
32gig is sufficient for most but 64gb would make it safe.

On my Zune 30gb
266 Songs (Dont need my entire music collection with me)
16059 pictures
58 Videos most are (LARGE WMV podcasts some as long as 47 mins)

6.48GB used
21.31GB free

A 720P movie h.264 compressed will be about 4gig ~ 8 movies?

If I'm going to watch the movie over someone elses house I can see keeping the 720P format and carrying maybe 3-4 movies max. If I'm going to watch them on the ZuneHD screen they might as well be converted to the screens format saving a ton of space.

My guess is if you need tons of HD movies in a portable form get a popcorn hour. If you want a couple this should be doable.


RE: More Storage
By ClownPuncher on 8/13/2009 2:47:11 PM , Rating: 2
The basics would include sound quality, yes? If so, then the iPod doesn't get the basics right either.


RE: More Storage
By Omega215D on 8/13/2009 5:05:01 PM , Rating: 2
We seem to be thinking on the same wavelength... =D


Will current zune owners preorder?
By Roffles on 8/13/2009 10:50:42 AM , Rating: 2
I've had my zune80 for about 18 months and have only received one firmware update in that time....and it added features that I could really care less about and should have been there in the first place. With constant firmware updates and audio specific customizations galore, I was spoiled by the likes of Cowon and iRiver products before the zune (Rio Karma, iRiver H340, Cowon A3). Microsoft left a bad taste in my mouth with the zune80. They don't cater to audiophiles plain and simple. I will definitely wait for the reviews with the intent of going back to Cowon.




RE: Will current zune owners preorder?
By SilentSin on 8/13/2009 11:28:58 AM , Rating: 2
What 18 months did you have it? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zune#Zune_software

There are 4 updates listed there within the last 18 months, 5 if you go back 19. Most of the updates are things I would consider significant.

I'll say they could improve on their format support in order to "cater to audiophiles", but then again it could be much worse, too. The only real rough patch I would see an audiophile hitting is getting a straightforward line-out on the go for use with pocket amps or DACs, that is damn near impossible.


RE: Will current zune owners preorder?
By SilentSin on 8/13/2009 11:30:45 AM , Rating: 2
Stupid edit button...3 in the last 18 months, 5 if you go back 21.


By Smilin on 8/13/2009 1:32:16 PM , Rating: 2
Not all of those updates were mandatory. Most weren't.


RE: Will current zune owners preorder?
By Roffles on 8/14/2009 1:24:33 AM , Rating: 2
I believe my zune80 shipped with 2.2 or 2.3 and I honestly don't think any update actually gave me any real features that hold a candle to what I was accustomed to with iRiver and Cowon for the past 5 years. Perhaps you never really played with one of these products because you aren't really grasping what I mean by audio-centric features. I do have a Cowon A7 8GB that I use for exercise and travel. Let me run through the menus and show you what I mean by options that cater to audiophiles.

1. lyrics
2. bookmarking so I can save a spot, listen to other stuff, and finish it later.
3. id3 OR file name support.
4. the A7 acts as a harddrive so i can plug it in anywhere to any computer. this is big because i hate syncing programs.
5. voice recorder, fm recorder, line in mp3 recorder
6. very highly customizable sound effects (too many to mention without getting too wordy), multiple equalizers, and a custom equalizer.
7. customized shuffle
8. customizable display
9. sleep and wakeup timers
10. customize skip and scan length
10. customizable button (hotkey)
11. 30 to 40 hour battery life!!!!!!!!!!! (important for travel)

There's a few other things in the menus that I missed, but the point is that these are audio specific features the zune is missing and I USE THEM. If the zuneHD can't at least pick up on a few of these features, then I'm going back to Cowon. I don't need a web browser or apps or someone pushing me into a marketing experiment to see if they can profit further from my purchase of a piece of hardware.


By imaheadcase on 8/14/2009 1:54:24 AM , Rating: 2
No most won't.

The zune, like most music players on the market are used for just music.

Fact is most just get a mp3 player, put it on, drop it in pocket or clip and go doing what they do. They don't spend time looking at the screen.


Not True 720p Output Afterall
By ltcommanderdata on 8/13/2009 7:30:51 PM , Rating: 2
http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2009/08/zune...
quote:
Video Support: Windows Media Video (WMV) (.wmv) - Main and Simple Profile, CBR or VBR, up to 3.0 Mbps peak video bit rate; 720 pixels x 480 pixels up to 30 frames per second (or 720 pixels x 576 pixels up to 25 frames per second). Zune software will transcode HD WMV files at device sync.
MPEG-4 (MP4/M4V) (.mp4) Part 2 video3- Simple Profile up to 2.5 Mbps peak video bit rate; 720 pixels x 480 pixels up to 30 frames per second (or 720 pixels x 576 pixels up to 25 frames per second). Zune software will transcode HD MPEG-4 files at device sync.
H.264 video - Baseline Profile up to 2.5 Mbps peak video bit rate; 720 pixels x 480 pixels up to 30 frames per second (or 720 pixels x 576 pixels up to 25 frames per second). Zune software will transcode HD H.264 files at device sync.

So the Zune HD will not actually have true 720p output afterall. The hardware will only support video up to 720x480 which is basically 480p. It'll upscale to 720p for output. They might as well have upscaled to 1080p and promoted that.




RE: Not True 720p Output Afterall
By ltcommanderdata on 8/13/2009 8:38:57 PM , Rating: 2
Well the Zune HD does support H.264 video in 1280x720 afterall. The current Ars article now lists 1280x720 support as part of H.264. Seeing that I copied the direct quote from the Ars website, it might be that they updated it.


RE: Not True 720p Output Afterall
By imaheadcase on 8/14/2009 2:00:55 AM , Rating: 2
Um, if you look at the actual pictures of the zune it says down in the bottom in small print about not supporting true 720p.

480 x 272 no ways equals 720p any way you slice it.

It does support output with a dongle to 720p. But again who the frack would do that in the real world.


RE: Not True 720p Output Afterall
By Smilin on 8/17/2009 10:55:37 AM , Rating: 2
My current Zune is sitting in a dock next to my reciever (wirelessly connected to pc upstairs). It looks like crap trying to output some 320x200 (or whatever) video to a 56" HDTV.

So I'm looking forward to having the 720p ability.

I also do NOT want 720p on a 3" screen either. What's the point?


Wonder if Apple will match the prices?
By stubeck on 8/13/2009 10:18:39 AM , Rating: 2
Like they did with the original 30GB iPod to match the Zune.




RE: Wonder if Apple will match the prices?
By OSUHarms on 8/13/2009 10:24:28 AM , Rating: 2
I guarantee Apple will bring the price down. Whenever they refresh their ipod line they usually increase storage space or bring prices down (whichever way you want to look at it). I will probably be around $300 or $329 for their 32GB version. So far all we know about is the camera addition, and as far as I am concerned that is pointless. What mobile phone doesn't already have that? Granted we don't know the resolution of the camera yet, but tons of phones have at least 2 MP if not 3.2 MP. The device should be focused on music and video.


By Smilin on 8/13/2009 11:08:29 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know if they will or not.

Lets assume that all parties have reached enough volume that manufacturing costs are level. In that case the little guy has an advantage on price. If the little guy drops prices they make less money or lose a little. If the big guy drops prices per device to match they lose massive money due to the number of devices.

If MSFT can get apple to "flinch" and price-war with them, then it would count as a minor victory for MSFT.


By OSUHarms on 8/13/2009 10:18:31 AM , Rating: 2
I am definitely going to buy this. I like Microsoft's approach with focusing on the music and video rather than 65,000 apps (alot of which do rather pointless things)It's going to be an amazing media player and thats what I want!

However, if I am going to pre-order a device over a month before it comes out, I better get some perks. First, why don't they offer the colors and engraving now? Since they arn't, then let the pre-orders ship out early rather than waiting until Sept. 15th.




By Smilin on 8/13/2009 1:35:12 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure all production is dedicated to getting the initial two models out. They'll likely have sufficient inventory by the 15th and at that time can start devoting some capacity to the customized ones.


Gapless playback
By chrisdent on 8/14/2009 1:11:10 AM , Rating: 2
There is only thing I need to know.
Can it play back an entire album without pausing between tracks?




RE: Gapless playback
By Smilin on 8/17/2009 10:56:58 AM , Rating: 2
Current Zunes do.


Drool
By Smilin on 8/13/2009 10:16:26 AM , Rating: 2
Time warp?
By thekdub on 8/13/2009 1:17:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Zune HD can be pre-ordered today with in store purchase on Thursday

I think you've got something wrong here. According to the Microsoft release you linked to, you won't be able to buy it in-stores until Tuesday, September 15.

Your date is not only incorrect, it is ambiguous and could be mistaken for today, which is Thursday.




Are they this stupid?
By zolo111 on 8/13/2009 5:41:45 PM , Rating: 2
Why bother with 64GB or whatever when they could just add a microSD slot and be done with it? are they this retarded? It would be alot cheaper than touch or whatever..

I think they're aiming for touch customers, most of these are Apple fan boys anyway and woun't consider a zune of all mp3 players for obvious reasons..

They're in 3rd posion and with thier second generation mp3 player & they want control mp3 player market with thier crap non micro SD mp3 players?
Build customer base by giving customers MORE options, not copy apple tactic and act like you can screw your customers like Apple do by having to buy another player to get more storage space!!

Add a micro SD slot and market the hell out of it:

"Zune owners can add as much storage space as they wish, CAN YOUR IPOD DO THAT?.." type marketing




xbox portable
By hadifa on 8/13/2009 9:34:11 PM , Rating: 2
Am I the only one who thinks this could be a great gaming device if it had a few buttons on the sides?

I would buy one if it had.




32GB Platinum only?
By Warder45 on 8/13/2009 10:15:40 AM , Rating: 1
Where is my 32gb is black?




How about mac support
By rameshms on 8/13/2009 11:59:09 AM , Rating: 1
I would love to have this .. unfortunately there is limited software support for mac users. I'm using XNJB for my Creative zen vision which works but doesn't have score much on usability..




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