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.