Microsoft Releases Zune HD Touch Screen Device, Adds Music Streaming, Videos

| Product News

Microsoft released an updated version of the Zune Tuesday, the Zune HD. The digital media device offers a touch screen interface that follows in the footsteps of Apple's iPod touch, and features an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) multitouch screen, an NVIDIA Tegra HD processor and HD Radio capabilities. The company also released a new version of the Zune PC software that adds video purchasing and rentals through the Zune Marketplace and music streaming through a Web browser.

The most significant changes are in the physical properties of the device. Microsoft is using an OLED screen, which could well offer a brighter image than competing devices, including Apple's iPod touch (The Mac Observer has requested a review unit).

The device also includes a built-in HD radio receiver. Zunes have long had FM radio receivers, whereas Apple only just added an FM receiver to the iPod nano this month and the iPod touch doesn't offer radio at all. The boost to an HD radio receiver in the Zune HD marks what Microsoft said is the first such receiver in a portable, WiFi-enabled device.

HD radio songs can be tagged for immediate purchase (when on a WiFi network) or later purchase through the Zune PC software.

Microsoft has added an MSN Weather application, some non-specified casual games, and a calculator to the apps that come with the Zune HD. Even more exciting is the news that Twitter and Facebook will be coming to the device later this year. The Zune HD is still not open to third party developers.

Lastly, Microsoft has added a feature called QuickPlay that offers one-click access to favorites, recently added content, and recently played content. That coupled with Smart DJ automated playlists brings the device current with some iPod features circa 2007.

Zune HD is available immediately with a black 16GB version for US$219.99 and a platinum 32GB version for $289.99. This contrast with Apple's iPod touch line, which is currently priced at $199 for 8GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB.

Zune HD
The Zune HD in 32GB Platinum, complete with four screws on the back

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16 Comments Leave Your Own

Tiger

Yawn. I added an FM receiver to my iPod and iPhone for all of $20 about six months ago.

I will give them style points. It’s getting better. But it still looks like a cigarette case. At least it’s not BROWN.

Mediablur

What Apple seems to have forgotten about, and Microsoft has not, is that for many people these portable devices are about MUSIC. I’ve decided to give the Zune a try because it offers more features and functionality for people who are passionate about music, whereas the iPod music features haven’t changed significantly in many years. Apple is more focused on games and seems not to care so much about the iPod as a music device.

Tiger

Yet Apple is making more money hand over fist on its music players every single year. Added to that the ability to run apps and play games, it seems like a winning combination. Name a year, much less a quarter, that the Zune has had such a winning strategy. The iPod has iTunes, its ecosystem, and its aura. The Zune, while improving, is having a hard time shaking off its roots of being a device that looked like a plummer pulled it out the toilet. Not to mention its sales.

Sounds harsh, I know, but it’s the reality. I don’t dislike the new Zune, I just don’t see a compelling reason to buy it either.

jfbiii

I know I can’t wait to be one of dozens of satisfied zune owners.

deasys

Even more exiting is the news that Twitter and Facebook will be coming to the device later this year.

“Exiting?”

Is that a Freudian slip within a sarcastic phrase? Whatever it is, I agree…

deasys

What Apple seems to have forgotten about, and Microsoft has not, is that for many people these portable devices are about MUSIC. I?ve decided to give the Zune a try because it offers more features and functionality for people who are passionate about music,

You’re kidding, right?

mblaydoe

Don’t OLED screens “washout” in sunlight? Good luck with that and otherwise Ho-hum.

Bryan Chaffin

?Exiting??

Is that a Freudian slip within a sarcastic phrase? Whatever it is, I agree?

Oops! It was supposed to be “exciting,” and I’ve edited it accordingly.

Thanks, deasys. smile

Bryan Chaffin

And what the hell is up with the shape of the back of the thing? And those screws?!?

Jeff Gamet

The screws on the back must be protecting some pretty important stuff to be that big. I’m just saying.

Jeff

Tiger

To our friend Mediablur

Apple has forgotten about music?

In the land of the Walkman, the iPod has just claimed victory!

http://www.macsimumnews.com/index.php/archive/ipod_overtakes_walkman_again_for_top_share_of_japans_digital_media_player_m/

John Martellaro

And what the hell is up with the shape of the back of the thing? And those screws?!?

Microsoft *always* puts the screws to its customers.  grin

Intruder

I?ve decided to give the Zune a try because it offers more features and functionality for people who are passionate about music

Exactly what would those features be? HD radio? I suppose that’s good if you are in the US (as it won’t work anywhere else) and you actually have an HD station nearby. And if HD were worth much. And if HD radio survives.

Bryan Chaffin

What Apple seems to have forgotten about, and Microsoft has not, is that for many people these portable devices are about MUSIC. I?ve decided to give the Zune a try because it offers more features and functionality for people who are passionate about music, whereas the iPod music features haven?t changed significantly in many years. Apple is more focused on games and seems not to care so much about the iPod as a music device.

I call BS on this whole post. It strikes me as fake guerilla marketing effort, though I find it difficult to believe that even Big Redmond could be this hamfisted in its approach.

I’m AOK with people not wanting to buy into Apple’s ecosystem or touting their love for the build in radio as a reason to go with Zune, but all of this poster’s points are either red herrings, straw men, or seemingly delusional.

Lee Dronick

he screws on the back must be protecting some pretty important stuff to be that big. I?m just saying.

The screws are there so that your youngster can more easily open up the device, mess with the internalls and ruin it.

At least it?s not BROWN.

Am I the only one that thought the brown color Zune was okay. It wasn’t great because they they had that horrid green bezel around it, it should have been brushed steel, antique brass or something that complimented the brown. MicroSoft products, be it software or hardware, always seem to be designed by the artistically challenged.

Lee Dronick

I?m AOK with people not wanting to buy into Apple?s ecosystem or touting their love for the build in radio as a reason to go with Zune, but all of this poster?s points are either red herrings, straw men, or seemingly delusional.

Have you all considered require all posters to be registered? Maybe even have a waiting period, like we do so gun purchases, so that some troll doesn’t register just to come right in and act like a sea gull.

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