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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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Needs to be cheap
By nafhan on 5/27/2009 8:48:40 AM , Rating: 3
Similar features + same price as ipod = poor sales.

This thing needs to be priced well below that of ipod's of similar capacity to sell well (or have an incredible must have feature that's absent from the ipod).
However, I have a feeling that they will sell it for the same price and be surprised when sales aren't all that great.

RE: Needs to be cheap
By Mitch101 on 5/27/2009 10:15:04 AM , Rating: 2
There is a rumor that the X-Box wireless controllers can be used on the Zune device and that the Zune will work with X-Box Live for downloadable games. Again Rumor but could be interesting if true.

RE: Needs to be cheap
By clovell on 5/27/2009 4:27:40 PM , Rating: 2
Have you seen the Zune marketplace alongside iTunes? If you count that as a 'feature', then it gets some more traction.

Still, this will need to be more affordable than an iPod Touch to really takeoff.

RE: Needs to be cheap
By Smilin on 5/28/2009 9:15:13 AM , Rating: 2
Zune marketplace rocks. You can tell which company writes software and which one makes color coordinated tech accessories.

I don't care if they are priced the same. The Zune is better and this new one especially. What reason do I have to buy an iPod other than so I can have white earbuds like everyone else?

Tagging of HD radio directly on the device will be nice. I hope they add back the EQ too.

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference
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