It’s official: Zune HD will launch this fall

Believe it or not, those Zune rumors that circulated around gadget sites recently were spot on. Microsoft has finally announced the Zune HD, a handheld media player that looks for all the world like Redmond’s answer to the iPod touch.

The new Zune will debut in the United States this fall, and it will feature a 3.3" touch-screen OLED display with a 480×272 resolution—a slightly smaller, lower-resolution display than what’s on Apple’s current-gen device. Microsoft will also include an HD radio tuner, Wi-Fi connectivity (through which you’ll be able to buy music online), and a full-screen web browser with "tap to zoom technology, built-in accelerometer, and [a] touchscreen QWERTY keyboard."

The Zune touch Zune HD will launch with a companion Zune service on the Xbox Live Video Marketplace, where users will be able to download content from an "exciting catalog" of TV shows and movies (all presumably compatible with the new device). Microsoft even plans to offer a Zune HD docking station that can output "supported" 720p content to a TV via HDMI.

What about games? Microsoft skirts the subject entirely in its press release—a surprising omission, considering Apple touts the iPod touch as the "funnest iPod ever" and offers a wealth of 2D and 3D games on the App Store.

We wouldn’t necessarily rule out gaming capabilities, however. In February, an analyst claimed Microsoft was developing a cell phone based on Nvidia’s Tegra system-on-a-chip, which just happens to support 720p output via HDMI. If the Zune HD turns out to have Tegra inside, then it should also benefit from the SoC’s integrated GeForce core. Of course, that doesn’t mean Microsoft would necessarily woo game developers to the platform. (Thanks to TR readers Usacomp2k3 and Adi for the tip.)

Comments closed
    • funko
    • 14 years ago

    Stupid? Sony “ripped off” Nintendo, look where they went with the ps and p2. Apple “ripped off” Nokia and look where it got then with the iPhone. Toyota “ripped off” Ford and look where they are today. Google “ripped off” Altavista and look where they are today.

    i can go on and on…

    are you suggesting that once one company breaks into a market, everyone else should just sit and do nothing?

    foolishness.

    • twizttid13
    • 14 years ago

    Competition is good. Although the iPod touch is already good, I think it needs more storage space before I buy one.

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 14 years ago

    XNA will not cut it. they need to redevelop the XBLA games for the Zune HD platform

    • eitje
    • 14 years ago

    Cowon D2 > Cowon S9!

    • eitje
    • 14 years ago

    The XNA framework will be the SDK used for game development, I would imagine. It’s what’s used on current-gen Zunes.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 14 years ago

    you take trolling to a whole new level.

    • danny e.
    • 14 years ago

    glad you agree they’re not the same. S9 is head and shoulders above ipoop or the zune.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 14 years ago

    I too think it would be nice if that were a feature although I don’t think it’s rediculous, just a missed opportunity for MS. My point was restated by Skyring….the guy buys something then is upset that it doesn’t have a feature it never claimed to have to the point of wanting to get rid of it. That just doesn’t make sense.

    I mean read some lines in his post: q[http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1079/830897176_dad55f068d_o.jpg<]§ btw how much capacity does your 5 year old player have? Have you looked at prices on USB flash drives or even portable external hard drives recently?

    • Skrying
    • 14 years ago

    Then you buy the product for you needs. If you’re so much of an idiot to spend $200+ on something that is widely known not do what you want then you, the consumer, are to blame.

    What’s even more remarkable about “shaq_mobile” is then including in the post about buying an Apple product that also CAN’T do what is wanted. Do you even attempt to learn about something before you spend money on it? That’s just… well, I think my stance on that is clear.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 14 years ago

    My 5 year old MP3 player acts as a portable hard drive. I think it’s ridiculous that that’s not a standard feature. I use mine for copying files around more than listening to music. It’s not like I need a 1TB drive, but a USB stick isn’t enough, so it seems nice when you have one device with a reasonable capacity that can kill two birds with one stone.

    • Decelerate
    • 14 years ago

    Superstar’s only 3.7″; better, but no cigars…

    • Skrying
    • 14 years ago

    The S9 doesn’t have WiFi. Not even the same caliber of device.

    • Palek
    • 14 years ago

    Strange, I have never had iTunes for Windows crash on me, not a single time since I started using it about 5 years ago. It may not be the fastest music management application out there, but I do not find it slow at all, except maybe the visualization – but even that was improved in 7.x. I run iTunes on a PC with “just” 1 GB of RAM and have over 4,000 songs and a few podcasts in my library.

    Go figure.

    • danny e.
    • 14 years ago

    Cowon S9 > zune
    Cowon S9 > ipoop

    • MadManOriginal
    • 14 years ago

    So you bought a PMP that works well as a PMP and you’re complaining that it doesn’t have a function that was never advertised and you’d have known about if you’d done research? gg

    • MadManOriginal
    • 14 years ago

    I agree with you on the proprietary stuff, ideally everything would be drag n drop with custom software optional. I have to disagree about ‘just working’ though, there were people who had issues with Cowon firmware on various players, nothing completely game-breaking though. Reading .ogg tags was one for sure.

    • adampk17
    • 14 years ago

    I agree that cygnus1’s comment about the current generation Zune’s ability to tag songs was useful to the conversation.

    My ‘sarcasm’ was meant to be lighthearted anyway, perhaps that makes it weak, in other words. In my opinion his tag on comment about the sarcasm was indeed a jerky and unnecessary jab. No hurt feeling here though, just calling a spade a spade.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 14 years ago

    It’s not supported on the Mac, sorry. At least not yet.

    • adampk17
    • 14 years ago

    I called it iTunes tagging because that is the name of the feature that many HD Radios tout in their commercials.

    §[<http://www.hdradio.com/iTunes_Tagging/<]§

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 14 years ago

    Sale the Mac and get a MS PC and all your problems are solved… Yea!

    • shaq_mobile
    • 14 years ago

    i haev a zune and im really dissapointed with it. it plays music just fine, but thats all it really does. you cant even use it as a portable hard drive w/o having to bend over backwards.

    if microsoft didnt nerf the utility of the zune, id be far more inclined to buy another. right now, all i have is an expensive mp3 player witha nice screen that displays the album covers of the current song. i feel like i got suckered.

    if microsoft wants another purchase of mine, theyll give me somethign i can use. my friend just uses his iphone as his mp3 player… if i werent so in love with my phone id probably switch teams and buy an iphone and *try* to sell my zune. for now, my busted motorola slvr thats 3 years old will have to do. it has a sweet race car game that i beat last year, now i can drive any in the game!

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 14 years ago

    …But then I would have to rip a hole in /[

    • funko
    • 14 years ago

    load up windows on the macbook (:

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 14 years ago

    Yeah but I don’t want to rip a hole in the space/time continuum by plugging in a Zune HD into a Macbook.

    • ludi
    • 14 years ago

    Yeah, my next player is going to be a Cowon. My Sansa View has a nice hardware set, but not quite enough battery life for the price and the firmware has proven to be buggy.

    • ludi
    • 14 years ago

    Uh…because his added useful information to the discussion?

    Also, if you thought his criticism of your sarcasm (not you, your sarcasm) as “weak” puts his behavior squarely in the “jerk” category, then put down the Intern3tz and back away slowly — you’re going to get hurt out here.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 14 years ago

    They make it a point to compete directly with everything Apple does, and fail at it. The Zune is perceived as an inferior iPod. The Zune HD is already perceived as an inferior iPod Touch. Their phone will undoubtedly be perceived as an inferior iPhone.

    Everything they’ve been doing is almost exactly like Apple’s products, but they come to the market late, don’t do much, if anything, original with it, and don’t even undercut Apple’s prices, as if that would be so hard.

    I don’t think that particularly helps their brand name. They have the operating system and video game console markets down, and they need to stick to the stuff they’re good at it.

    • cygnus1
    • 14 years ago

    Here’s how you justify it. If you listen to a lot of music, which you ought to if you’d consider the subscription service, just realize that the Zune is a much better music playing device. The interface/navigation just works better for music listening with large libraries and playlists.

    • cygnus1
    • 14 years ago

    Honestly, I thought your comment was of the jerk variety. MS had the feature before apple, so why call it iTunes tagging?

    • no51
    • 14 years ago

    How are they ripping off Apple?

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 14 years ago

    Stupid…now they’re just openly admitting all they’re going to do is blatantly rip off Apple.

    I was expecting it to be able to play Xbox Live Arcade games or something along those lines. I would have been interested in that, and I don’t even have an Xbox, but there are some good games on there. Figures MS would drop the ball and not do anything original, even with what they’ve already got going for them…

    • no51
    • 14 years ago

    Come join the dark side ssid, the kool-aid is ice cold and they have hors d’oeuvres. The lobotomy isn’t too bad and they let you keep the part of the brain they cut off in a jar. Be one of us. ONE OF US. *[

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 14 years ago

    HTC “SuperStar” will be calling you by the same time this thing is out.

    • Decelerate
    • 14 years ago

    What I don’t understand is the screen size and resolution. I don’t see why they didn’t gun the 4″ market, at least.

    Right now it’s only asking for a flood of “Haha! Your Zune is .7″ smaller and has lower res!”

    • PRIME1
    • 14 years ago

    Now if they could only include a TV tuner with it.

    • Prion
    • 14 years ago

    480×272 awkward widescreen res display? Oh boy, PSP touch! Better for video than the downright bizarre aspect ratio of the iPhone/iTouch though.

    I miss the 3.3″ WVGA (848×480) screen on my Sharp phone, tbh.

    • JrezIN
    • 14 years ago

    It’s nice to receive real software updates… but proprietary interfaces/cables/required software put me away…

    I’ll just stick to Cowon or Archos… they at least _[

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 14 years ago

    You know, uh, I *really* like the Zune subscription model. A lot. I like it so much that I wish I could justify getting this product. But I can’t.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 14 years ago

    I’m not sold on pure touchscreen interfaces for DAPs, or even for other portable electronics. A lot of it is the cool factor and marketing hype and at least a few tactile controls are best. There is a place at the bottom of the unit on the front where some tactile controls would have fit nicely. Having used a Zune 80 the squircle is a really nice controller.

    Maybe they will EOL the Zune v2 and I can get a 120GB for cheap 🙂

    • adampk17
    • 14 years ago

    I bow down to your obviously superior intellect. Seriously, why be a jerk with that comment just for the sake of being a jerk?

    • NeronetFi
    • 14 years ago

    I am savign to get a Zune. After checking out my friends Zune I def want one. The built in Wi-Fi is a huge plus.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 14 years ago

    If they have mobile ie8, that’s good enough for me.

    • cygnus1
    • 14 years ago

    The current zune’s with fm radio’s can grab RDS data and use that to get the song out of the marketplace. So I would imagine they will have a similar feature.

    (and i got your sarcasm, it was just weak)

    • ludi
    • 14 years ago

    Housecat! *crunch munch*

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 14 years ago

    I have a new baby-zune 8gb, my wife had a 30gb, upgraded to the 80gb when it came out, my father-in-law has a 30gb.

    I’m definitely looking forward to this. The XNA looks interesting, but I haven’t taken the time to actually do anything on it. The games on my zune are fun, but nothing earth-shattering. The quality does look quite nice and it is completely fluid for animations on Texas hold-em.

    • adampk17
    • 14 years ago

    So…. I wonder. What are the chances that the HD Radio tuner offers iTunes tagging? LOL

    • Philldoe
    • 14 years ago

    Ohh, purdy. I guess this is my excuse to give my brother the Zune 80 I have and buy the Zune HD.

    • Hattig
    • 14 years ago

    You have to use the ZuneHD Dock (available separately) to get the 720p HD video output (presumably a HDMI port on the dock). If you want an idea of pricing, look at the price of XBox 360 peripherals.

    • funko
    • 14 years ago

    1st gen zune going strong here.

    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 14 years ago

    Glad that this Zune doesn’t look like it came out of a dirty diaper.

    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 14 years ago

    I agree. Using it on Windows (at least) is like wading through peanut butter, no matter how fast your computer is.

    • ludi
    • 14 years ago

    If it’s going to do video out, expect a proprietary interface. It’s cheaper and easier to integrate everything into one plug on the device (unfortunately).

    • khands
    • 14 years ago

    /[

    • wingless
    • 14 years ago

    MS should make this a phone ASAP.

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 14 years ago

    The HD radio sounds interesting.
    Can it record?

    • deathBOB
    • 14 years ago

    Windows iTunes sucks so much that keeping all of my music on my Mac and streaming it to my PC is faster than keeping it on the PC.

    The Zune is classic Microsoft. They have the Xbox and plenty of developers, why they can’t tie the Zune into the system is beyond me. There should be a ton of games available right now.

    The browser would really make or break this device for me. I have a hard time believing it will be better than mobile safari.

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 14 years ago

    Zune owner here.

    @adi….just watch MSFT keynote at E3. 😛

    @Tresher: hope your AppleTV is working for you (remember those?)

    • cygnus1
    • 14 years ago

    And you probably use it on a mac. It’s bloated crap ware on the PC, very prone to crashing. Also, it’s links in to Outlook are buggy as hell too.

    The fact that it can crush a PC with 4GB of ram, with music and app stored on separate fairly quick drives with basically nothing else running is all the proof I need. And it only had about 5000 songs in it’s library. It still did that after a wipe and reload, reinstall, and re-creation of the library (didn’t just insert the old library files, re-imported all the music files to create a new library)

    The Zune software on the other hand runs beautifully on the same hardware, with twice as many songs in it’s library. As well as several audio and video podcasts to manage.

    Lol, and once I get moved to my new place, where I can park close enough to my abode, I’ll have the wireless sync setup and I won’t even need to take it out of the car.

    Zune is full of win in my book. MS has advanced music players with useful music player features (wireless sync, better interface, better management app). Apple has added gimicky app support and PIM features that just drains the battery leaving you with less music listening capacity.

    Hopefully MS stays that course instead of following Apple’s craptastic lead. I want the best music player, because that’s what I use the device for.

    • ecalmosthuman
    • 14 years ago

    Love Zune. Will definitely be getting an HD when they arrive.

    • Hattig
    • 14 years ago

    It’s probably down to experience of using it in its Windows variant as opposed to its Mac OS native version.

    However Safari 4 has moved to native windows, so maybe iTunes will as well, assuming they build upon the same subset of Apple APIs ported to Windows.

    • no51
    • 14 years ago

    I have 2. My sister has 2.

    • Xenolith
    • 14 years ago

    Can you use it as a skype phone?

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 14 years ago

    I have too many iPod apps to just switch over. Looks like Apple got me chained. GJ.

    • adisor19
    • 14 years ago

    The Zune HD sounds like a semi serious attempt from MS to bring something up against the iPod Touch but as mentioned in the article it lacks a few certain key points :

    – 3D Games and mention of an SDK for third party devs to take advantage of the hardware
    – App store which is BY FAR the biggest feature on the iPod touch

    The way i see it, this device will have a lot of catching up to do especially with iPod Touch/iPhone 3.0 software. The new Apple SDK has opened the possibility for developers to take advantage of Bluetooth, Bonjour, Wifi and the Dock connector allowing them to come up not only with super cool software (p2p gaming on the spot !) but also with new crazy hardware that attaches to the iPhone/iTouch. On these 2 points, the new Zune HD has nothing announced yet.

    Who know, maybe by the time it actually comes out, MS will actually surprise us and not just play catch up with iPhone 2.0…

    Adi

    • adisor19
    • 14 years ago

    I never really understood the iHate for iTunes.. to me, it does what it’s supposed to with very little maintenance.

    Adi

    • adisor19
    • 14 years ago

    Ya expect a fanboy comment from Ricardo any second now..

    Adi

    • Preyfar
    • 14 years ago

    I have an iPod 5G and an iPhone, and love them both, but have to admit that after using a friend’s Zune… they’ve got a MUCH nicer interface. Apple has the hardware side down, Microsoft nailed the software for ease of use/beauty.

    I’d love to give the Zune a shot. If anything, just to get away from the abomination that is iTunes (I hate that software with a passion).

    • LovermanOwens
    • 14 years ago

    I am actually …..

    • Thresher
    • 14 years ago

    <crickets>

    • leor
    • 14 years ago

    any zune fans here?

    • eitje
    • 14 years ago

    The XNA framework is currently compatible with the Zunes in the wild. I would assume they would continue to offer that kind of support.

    • cygnus1
    • 14 years ago

    Any mention of capacities? I rather like the 120GB I currently have, and wouldn’t want to trade down in capacity, even though I barely have it half full.

    • cygnus1
    • 14 years ago

    It’s my understanding that the current zune’s already run a variant of CE, with the zune app as a shell. i could be wrong about that

    • Corrado
    • 14 years ago

    The accessory market is far to lucrative and profitable to stick a standard connector on it. Luckily a lot of car stereo manufacturers are simply including a USB port instead of an iPod dock connector now so that it can work with any MP3 player.

    • quarantined
    • 14 years ago

    I was reading this news post, but then I just sorta zuned out.

    • JrezIN
    • 14 years ago

    is it too much to ask for a real USB interface in the device this time? (they’ll probably stick to the proprietary interface… =\ )
    USBhost and SD cards would be nice too, but the minimum requirement would be a standard USB interface…

    • ltcommander.data
    • 14 years ago

    So did they mention anything about an App Store like Apple since that is really a feature more critical than the HD moniker?

    And any idea what OS it’ll be running. I thought it was mentioned somewhere that it might be a Windows CE variant. Hopefully it’ll be much improved.

    In any case, Zune HD will be competing against 3rd gen iPod Touch and iPhone OS 3.0, so things might get interesting. The next iPod Touch seems to be focused more on video with an integrated camera and video editing features rather than “HD”-ness.

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