It seems like an age since it was announced, but Microsoft’s shiny new Zune HD player has finally been released in the US.
Coming in 16GB and 32GB flavours, the Zune HD packs a 3.3 inch OLED touchscreen (480 pixels x 272 pixels), Wi-Fi and FM radio tuner, 3.5mm headphone jack and is priced at $219.99 (£133) and $289.99 (£176) respectively – making it cheaper than the Apple iPod Touch.
Users will be able to rent or buy high definition films from the new Zune Marketplace online store, as well as access a streaming music service through the onboard browser.
It’s certainly very easy on the eye – we love its looks – but we’re not sure if it’ll tempt iPod fans into Microsoft’s ample bosom.
Either way, with no release date set for the UK, we’ll have to adjust our excitement-o-meters to ‘moderately interested.’
Here’s the full specs for your delectation.
16/32 gigabytes (GB)
Up to 8,000 songs, or ten hours of high definition video from Zune Marketplace, or 48 hours of video optimized for device, or 25,000 pictures
Size and weight
Size: 52.7 mm x 102.1 mm x 8.9 mm (w x h x d)
Weight: 2.6 ounces (74 grams)
Music, up to 33 hours (wireless off); video, up to 8.5 hours
Charge Time: Approximately three hours when connected to your PC; approximately two hours with A/C adapter
Size: 3.3-inch OLED color display, 16:9 aspect ratio
Type: Scratch-resistant glass with touch input capability
Orientation: Vertical (music) and horizontal (videos)
Resolution: 480 pixels x 272 pixels
Connectivity: 802.11b/g compatible
Connectivity: 802.11b/g compatible
Authentication modes: Open, WEP, WPA, and WPA2
Encryption modes: WEP 64- and 128-bit, TKIP, and AES
Windows Media Audio Standard3 (WMA) (.wma); Up to 384 Kbps; constant bit rate (CBR) and variable bit rate (VBR) up to 48-kHz sample rate; WMA Pro two channel up to 768 Kbps; CBR and VBR up to 48-kHz
WMA Lossless: two channel up to 768 kbps and 48-kHz
Advanced Audio Coding (AAC-LC) (.mp4, .m4a, .m4b); .m4a and .m4b files without FairPlay DRM up to 320 Kbps; CBR and VBR up to 48-kHz
MP3 (.mp3); Up to 320 Kbps; CBR and VBR up to 48-kHz
Windows Media Video (WMV) (.wmv); Main and Simple Profile, CBR or VBR, up to 10.0 Mbps peak video bit rate; 720 pixels x 480 pixels up to 30 frames per second (or 720 pixels x 576 pixels up to 25 frames per second); Advanced profile up to L2, 1280 pixels x 720 pixels up to 30 frames per second, CBR or VBR, up to 14.0 Mbps peak video bitrate;Zune software will transcode HD WMV files above stated capabilities at device sync
MPEG-4 (MP4/M4V) (.mp4) Part 2 video; Simple Profile up to 4.0 Mbps peak video bit rate; 720 pixels x 480 pixels up to 30 frames per second (or 720 pixels x 576 pixels up to 25 frames per second); Zune software will transcode HD MPEG-4 files at device sync
H.264 video3; Baseline Profile + bframes, up to 10 Mbps peak video bit rate; 720 pixels x 480 pixels up to 30 frames per second (or 720 pixels x 576 pixels up to 25 frames per second);1280 pixels x 720 pixels up to 30 frames per second, up to level 3.1 and 14.0 Mbps peak video bitrate; Zune software will transcode HD WMV files above the stated capabilities at device sync
DVR-MS4; Zune software will transcode at time of sync
Analogue Audio Out; Optical Digital Audio Out (requires additional dock, sold separately)
HDMI or Composite (requires additional dock, sold separately)
Built-in FM/HD Radio receiver
Zune Sync Cable
Three pairs of foam earpiece covers
3.5mm Headphone jack
Official Zune site
4 Comments on “Zune HD gets US release. Brits have to ‘make do’ with iPod”
There are strong rumours that Microsoft are going to expand the Xbox Live Arcade onto the Zune too. That could be interesting if you’re an Xbox Live Gold subscriber with a healthy library of arcade games already purchased.
Full review of the Zune HD here – Gizmodo describe it as the “best touchscreen PMP on the market”:
Engadget have given the Zune HD a comprehensive review and they’re certainly feeling the love:
“Perhaps the most compelling reason to buy a Zune HD right now isn’t the gorgeous screen or forthcoming apps, HD radio, or slick design. Make no mistake about it — this is a fine, fine device, and no one would fault you for buying one — but it’s not the device itself that is the most attractive part of this package. To us, it seems like the single most compelling reason to choose this device over something like the iPod touch can be boiled down to one thing: Zune Pass.
We know what you’re thinking — that’s crazy fanboy talk. But look at these facts: as of right now there isn’t a huge price advantage to purchasing the ZHD over a touch (in fact, $199 gets you into a lower capacity touch, while you’re looking at $229 for the base Zune), you don’t have access to more media (certainly in the video department) or applications, the sound quality isn’t so much better that we’d ward you off of another product, and there are generally major deficits in the utility of the Zune HD versus Apple’s player (like that web browser). The Zune HD is a great media player, but we can’t pretend it’s the only PMP on the market.
But the one thing that Microsoft has that Apple doesn’t is Zune Pass — and that’s a major “but.” We won’t bore you with the details of this service, though you should know that for $14.99 a month, you can basically enjoy all the music you can find in the Zune Marketplace (and download ten tracks on the house every 30 days). The Pass should appeal to both casual and obsessive listeners alike, since it provides benefit to either. Whether you’re gobbling up music or just snacking, having an all-you-can-eat buffet in front of you is handy.
So let’s pretend for a moment that these players are exactly the same in every way except for how you get music on them. In that scenario, we think Microsoft’s angle has some real advantages. Of course, these players are different — you’re still sacrificing a lot for that $15 subscription — and even though the Zune HD is a tremendous media player with a lot of great features, we still don’t think it competes 1:1 with a device like the touch. Still, it competes, and for Microsoft and the Zune brand, that’s a major leap forward.”
Read more: http://www.engadget.com/2009/09/17/zune-hd-review/