The Zune HD from Microsoft is a hot topic on the Internet recently and more information has been released about the upcoming device. Other companies have struggled to come up with an Apple iPod alternative and Microsoft’s previous Zune devices haven’t gained much ground either. With the Zune HD, Microsoft is hoping to gain significant ground against the iPod and possibly even overtake it. A Microsoft employee close to TechReviewSource confirms Microsoft’s enormous outlook for the Zune HD.
There are many features of the Zune HD that Microsoft hopes will allow it to overtake the iPod Touch and we may agree, but first, a preview of the features:
High-Definition Video Output & OLED Touch Screen:
The Zune HD has a very bright OLED touch screen that has a resolution of 480 x 272 and a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. Now it’s cricial to mention that while the device is obviously named the Zune HD, the display on the device itself is not capable of displaying content in high-definition quality. Rather the Zune HD will be able to out content in HD (720p) quality via an HDMI connection through a dock for the device. This puts the Zune HD a leg up on the iPod Touch because it cannot output content in high-definition on its own screen or a TV.
HD Radio Built-In:
Perhaps the biggest feature that I believe sets the Zune HD aside from the iPod Touch is the built-in HD radio receiver. This will allow users to listen to radio in high-definition quality and have access to HD subset channels of their local radio stations. For example, many local stations, in addition to their regular station, have an HD2 or more channels that offer additional programming in high-definition quality. Users will also be able to see additional song and artist information displayed by HD broadcasting stations.
Wi-Fi & Full Internet Browsing:
The Zune HD, like previous Zunes, is Wi-Fi enabled and allows for access to the Zune Store, which features downloadable content for a fee and instant streaming. There will also be a full version of the Windows Mobile Internet Explorer 6 hardcoded into the Zune interface. IE 6 Mobile will allow for full Web browsing similar to the iPod Touch and iPhone and will also offer a touch screen keyboard also similar to the iPod Touch’s.
Up to 33 hours of music playback with wireless off and 8.5 hours of video playback
Price & Availability:
The Zune HD will be available on September 15th, but you can preorder them now from Amazon, Walmart, BestBuy, and the official Microsoft Store. The 16GB version will cost $219 and the 32GB will be $289. The available colors will be black, silver, and 10 other colors.
The Zune HD AV Dock, which allows for the output of HD quality to an HD compatible display. The dock is on sale for $89 and includes an HDMI cable, a remote control, and a power adapter.
For more specs of the Zune HD, check out this unofficial PDF data sheet that has surfaced online.
Comparison with the iPod Touch:
The iPod Touch is unquestionably the most popular MP3 player to date and is an enourmous money maker for Apple. The device is beautifully designed and works flawlessly. The display on the iPod Touch, while not OLED, is actually of slightly higher resolution than the Zune HD. The iPod Touch cannot output video content to any external device, which limits your ability to use it as a media device right from the start. The iPod doesn’t have an HD-radio receiver either (or even an FM receiver) and some believe that’s a huge negative, including myself. However, one huge plus for the iPod Touch over the Zune HD is the App Store, which is hands down, the best feature of the iPod Touch. It’s pretty impossible to imagine another app store (or music store) doing better than Apple’s. The prices of the Zune HD are much cheaper than the iPod Touch ($299 & $399) and may provide some incentive for users to purchase a Zune HD.
Compare Prices on the 16GB iPod Touch: