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Microsoft's Zune HD steps into the limelight

It appears that all the rumors and pictures from the last month regarding the Zune HD were right. Microsoft last night announced its next generation Zune and it appears that the boys from Redmond are finally ready to start taking the fight to Apple's iPod touch.

The angular device packs a 3.3" 16:9 OLED display with a resolution of just 480 x 272. Thankfully, the touchscreen includes multi-touch which currently resides on such devices as the Apple iPhone, iPod touch, and Palm Pre. The Zune HD also brings with it HD radio and is capable of 720p video-out via HDMI with a docking station.

The only other hardware detail that Microsoft announced was the inclusion of Wi-Fi which has always been a Zune staple. In this case, however, a full-screen multi-touch web browser will also be included (and hopefully an email client and various other internet-based utilities).

Microsoft didn't divulge any information on storage capacities for the new Zune HD, but earlier reports pegged the devices launching in 16GB and 32GB capacities. Hopefully, this isn't the case as Apple is near certain to release its next generation iPod touch early this fall in capacities of up to 64GB which would leave the Zune HD trailing behind.

"The Zune music player is an integral part of the overall Zune experience, and we're proud to be growing and extending our offering beyond the device," said Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president of the Microsoft TV, Video and Music Business Group. "Delivering on Microsoft's connected entertainment vision, this news marks a turning point for Zune as it brings cross-platform experiences and premium video content to living rooms around the world."

Microsoft's first and second attempts at taking on Apple with its Zune range didn't do much to challenge the iPod's dominance of the marketplace. However, Microsoft appears to have a real chance of scoring some major points with consumers with the Zune HD -- that is if they can manage to keep storage capacities at a lofty level.

The Zune HD will launch this fall.

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I want 240GB+ capacities
By segerstein on 5/27/2009 7:16:04 AM , Rating: -1
I bought a 160GB iPod almost two years ago. I want to upgrade it. With what??? :(

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By FITCamaro on 5/27/09, Rating: 0
RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By segerstein on 5/27/2009 7:32:32 AM , Rating: 2
You can also use it as a portable disk, to offload pics from your camera, to store&watch videos...

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By thartist on 5/27/2009 6:39:16 PM , Rating: 3
2 things:

you can, but you shouldn't expect it to be a massive storage portable device. it's a portable media player so think of it and use it as such, and after that, use the extra space.

it's much nicer than the photo leaks.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By Brandon Hill on 5/27/2009 7:37:40 AM , Rating: 2
He could have a ton of movies on it too -- I use my iPod touch to watch movies on long plane rides.

However, I couldn't possibly listen to that much music. I've got 222 albums taking up 19.4GB on my 32GB iPod touch 2G and that seems pretty excessive to me :)

It's also why I'm holding out on a 32GB iPhone next month so I'll have room for my music and some videos -- and then be able to go down from two devices (cell phone + iPod touch) to just one.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By TejTrescent on 5/27/2009 7:44:09 AM , Rating: 3
That's my second biggest complaint--if these max out at 32GB, I'll probably just get a Zune 120 instead. I love my Zune 30, but to get my music to fit on it I have to put it on the device at 96kbps tops.

And that leaves enough room to put barely two movies, as well.

My largest complaint is I seem to be the only person who likes physical buttons on devices anymore, sigh. Maybe it's too much to ask to be able to change the song and volume without looking.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By Bender 123 on 5/27/2009 7:56:48 AM , Rating: 3
I think you miss the point with this type of player. I have a Zune 80 and a Touch 16. I actually use them for completely different things. The Zune is great for a media player and portable library of music, the Touch replaces the Lappy 486 for short trips to the folks house or starbucks...It plays media, but I almost treat it more like a small "internet lite" device. The eventual apps and browser will make or break this thing...Same goes for the Zune phones that will be coming.

If these devices have browsers as crappy as WinMo, they will fail...hard...If they have a decent browser and app support, they just might make people pay attention to Zune. I cant wait to see what they offer.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By omnicronx on 5/27/2009 8:41:30 AM , Rating: 2
If these devices have browsers as crappy as WinMo, they will fail...hard...
Yawn.. While I don't use it yet as it is not quite ready for primetime, PIE 6.0 from Windows Mobile 6.5 RC is looking REALLY good... It already supports flash and other plugins, and has the potential to be quite good.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By Mitch101 on 5/27/2009 9:41:08 AM , Rating: 2
I have a Zune 30 and a Sandisk and like you use them for different tasks.

The Sandisk I use for the gym. Its small and has an arm strap. The music on my Sandisk doesn't change that often. I maybe plug it in to add or remove a few songs once a month.

The Zune 30 I do a lot of PodCasts and listen to them when I am at work or in the car. If needed I can put a few movies on it and let the kids use it on longer trips and output the video through the DVD player in the van on the AUX input. But this is standard definition stuff. Between Music, Pictures, Digital Cam Movies, Movies, Podcasts I only use about 20gig.

I guess if your going to do 720P content you need something more than 32gig. I would go for a 64gig unit myself.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By Locutus465 on 5/27/2009 5:08:17 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not so sure I would use it for this purpose, I mean I already have a smart phone for that. But it would be admitingly nice to have a nifty multi-touch gadget like this compatible with my Zune service. So I would have a Zune 8 for the gym (currently owned) then perhaps maybe this gadget just so I can have a meatier zune with nifty capabilities.

Though I do wish they'd offer a version with HDD and higher capacities.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By PrezWeezy on 5/27/2009 7:06:54 PM , Rating: 2
I think it would be good if they put a volume pad like they do on the T-Mobile Dash. Or even a scroll wheel like on some WinMo phones. I agree that physical buttons are awesome and I hate the iPhone/Touch for that exact reason. I want a keyboard with buttons. I have fat fingers with which the iPhone never can seem to understand which letter I'm attempting to type.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By CZroe on 5/28/2009 2:54:03 AM , Rating: 3
Then what you should be demanding is A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile AKA "Stereo Bluetooth") with AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile). The second-generation iPod touch has it and it will be opened up with the iPhone OS 3.0 software they will be releasing this summer. Honestly, WiFi should have come AFTER A2DP/AVRCP and I was complaining about that when the first Zune launched.

As for higher capacities, we should all be demanding expandable memory. Apple won't do it because fixed capacities and non-serviceable batteries enforce their upgrade cycle.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By smegz on 5/27/2009 1:17:35 PM , Rating: 2
I got my eye on a 32GB iPhone next month too. Like you I got a full 32GB iPod Touch and just can't see myself going backwards in capacity. Be nice if they bumped it to 64GB, but based on their track record, iPod touch will get that bump before the iPhone does.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By Brandon Hill on 5/27/2009 7:22:48 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, I see this happening:

32GB, 16GB iPhone (same price point as current 16GB and 8GB models)
64GB, 32GB, 16GB iPod touch (same price point as current 32GB, 16GB, and 8GB models)

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By Master Kenobi on 5/27/09, Rating: 0
RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By StevoLincolnite on 5/27/2009 7:41:18 AM , Rating: 2
How does one possibly have that much music unless you have lossless rips direct from CDs.

There are those who have used the 'net since Windows 95 and have been downloading music at a constant steady rate since that time, for instance a friend of mine has over 30 thousand songs which he collected during over a decade, however it's hardly legal.

Plus you can use the devices to store video, or just as a back-up medium like a flash disk.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By franglais on 5/27/2009 7:54:31 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, I too have "a friend" who has about the same amount of music, most likely gotten via the same means ;-)

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By callmeroy on 5/27/2009 12:06:08 PM , Rating: 2
While my "friend" has been using the internet since before the WWW came out, you know just file sharing through BBS systems and FTP. I haven't, I mean my "friend" hasn't collected quite as much but....yeah "he" did store up a lot of "stuff" in that time period.......

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By Leomania on 5/27/2009 1:04:12 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I too have "a friend" who has about the same amount of music, most likely gotten via the same means ;-)
My 80GB player is almost full, and it's not from "that" source. It's a combination of my own CD rips and Rhapsody, which for my monthly subscription payment allows me to keep a variety of material I don't own, but simply license. I couldn't possibly afford owning the amount of music that Rhapsody gives me access to. Between my ~400 CDs ripped to VBR Mp3 and the Rhapsody material in WMA, it adds up.

Admittedly, doubling the amount of music I have on the player would be a bit over the top. But then again I would have thought 80GB would be insane just a couple of years ago.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By LRonaldHubbs on 5/27/2009 8:47:31 AM , Rating: 5
Avast, matey! Yer answer lies right before ye! Are not the intarwebz a glorious source 'o booty? Yo-ho-ho!

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By FITCamaro on 5/27/2009 12:27:34 PM , Rating: 2
Talking like a pirate always makes me smile.

Saw a great little tourist piece of crap over the weekend that you could hang on your door that said, "All who enter must surrender their booty". Would go great on my bedroom door.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By amanojaku on 5/27/09, Rating: 0
RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By adiposity on 5/27/2009 10:54:36 AM , Rating: 5
Hmm, I calculate that you can fit ~1075 CDs (650MB) on 700GB without compression. If you can only fit 10% on there, you must have 10,750 CDs. If you used monkeys audio (lossless audio compression), you could fit 21,500 CDs on there.

So, yeah, even with lossy compression it's VERY easy to exceed the capacity of today's mobile devices.

If you are using compressing, at 320kbps, you could compress to 20% the size. That means you could fit ~53,750 CDs on your NAS.

Do you have 53,750 CDs? Or is your math really fuzzy?


RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By adiposity on 5/27/2009 10:55:49 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, you could fit 5,375 compressed CDs. If that is 10% of your collection, you must have 50,375 CDs.


RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By Smilin on 5/27/2009 1:45:04 PM , Rating: 2
Which, if you assume 72min CDs and 8 hours a day to sleep means you would have to do nothing but listen to music for 10.35 years continusouly. Assuming 5min to burn a CD would also work out to another 262 days.

What's that smell?

Smell's like shenanigans to me.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By adiposity on 5/27/2009 2:13:17 PM , Rating: 3
Some math corrections...

21,500 should read "2150".
~53,750 should read "~5375".

But if you could fit 2150 or 5375, and only 10% of your collection fits, it means you have 21,500 or 53,750 CDs, approximately.

And this assumes that your CDs are filled to the brim. Most CDs are not 650MB, they are 400 or so. In reality the numbers are probably 30% higher than those I've posted.

Now I ask again, do you really have updwards of 10K CDs are are not compressing at all? Or do you have 50K+ CDs and are compressing at 320kbps?

If you do have 50K+ CDs, do you really consider it "easy" to reach that level of CDs? That's probably half a million dollars at good CD prices!

Even to get ~5000 CDs (about what you can currently fit on your "NAS") would be very expensive ($50k-$100k!). I don't think it's correct to say it's "very easy" to reach this level.


RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By evalese on 5/27/2009 4:31:59 PM , Rating: 4
If he's recording vinyl, he could have the original recording, cleaned up and split wav files, and mp3s on the same drive. Then you're talking 1GB per album fairly easily. He may be recording in 96KHz or 192KHz. Then you've got huge numbers. You could tear through 700GB quickly.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By omnicronx on 5/27/2009 11:20:24 AM , Rating: 5
Common lets be realistic, it is not VERY easy to do so, it takes years of collecting music in order to come even close to filling a 160GB ipod with compressed music. You say only 10% of your CD's will fit on your 700GB NAS, that means you have ~7000 CD's. How many people fit into that category?

Don't get me wrong, I am also in the thousands when it comes to CD's, but I have been collecting for almost 15 years. The thing is most other people do not fit into this category, you are the minority don't forget that. As a result these kind of products are not going to curtail to you and I, but to the masses.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By callmeroy on 5/27/2009 12:08:34 PM , Rating: 2
Most other people go outside too.... ;)

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By segerstein on 5/27/2009 12:17:58 PM , Rating: 2
As a result these kind of products are not going to curtail to you and I, but to the masses.

I use my 160GB iPod as a portable HDD. I even put VMWare's image files on it :-D (2GB split, since 4GB FAT32 limit).

Microsoft should upgrade Zune120 to Zune240. All it takes is to put a different HDD in the case. There are also some people who refurbish iPods to 240GB. But from 160 to 240 is not much of an upgrade.

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By crleap on 5/27/2009 9:19:50 AM , Rating: 1
yeah, some have evolved beyond MP3 lossiness

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By geddarkstorm on 5/27/2009 12:33:42 PM , Rating: 3
Man, think of all the MIDIs I could store...! Coupled with a Yamaha S-YXG50v4 and I'm good to go :D

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By ggordonliddy on 5/27/2009 6:03:28 PM , Rating: 2
What kind of dumb@$$ would not use lossless rips?

RE: I want 240GB+ capacities
By fteoath64 on 5/27/2009 7:44:06 AM , Rating: 2
Toshiba has a 240GB 1.8inch hdd. I would like it to have SDHC slot and USB host port. Forget camera, my digicam takes very nice 720p HD clips, thank you.

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