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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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RE: Lossless playback
By jabber on 5/27/2009 4:14:43 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmmm havent heard of anyone else having issues with lossless on the 80/120's.


I'm just hoping the new Zune concentrates further on audio quality then useless features I'll never a spirit level?? I hate it when kit is designed to make sure it doesnt look bad on a comparison chart which dilutes and weakens its primary purpose.

Some if us just want a quality, mature and well built music player. Sorry but the iPod and a lot of the others dont fit that bill for me.

RE: Lossless playback
By Jackattak on 5/27/2009 5:46:08 PM , Rating: 2

My wife has the Zune120 and we use WMA Lossless and she's never had a problem that I know of. Think I'll ask her tonight just to be sure, though.

RE: Lossless playback
By nycromes on 5/28/2009 12:43:34 PM , Rating: 2
I have had no issues with WMA Lossless on my Zune, which is a 120.

RE: Lossless playback
By LRonaldHubbs on 5/28/2009 3:11:41 PM , Rating: 2
I looked into it pretty extensively at the time and did find other users who experienced the same problem with Zune 80s and 120s. Here's one place that I found people talking about it:

It's a matter of bitrate. The player supports WMA lossless, but the manual specs it up to 940kbps. Unfortunately, most of my songs (rock and metal) come out over 1mbps, which is above what the Zune can handle, thus the playback stutters. And really, to say it supports lossless and then to give a max bitrate is a contradiction in itself.

The reason I say it doesn't perform as advertised is because that bit about 940kbps max is only in the manual, not in the same marketing materials/specs that say it supports lossless. And if you check out the Apple support forums, they have similar issues with AAC lossless on the iPods.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA
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