Microsoft’s Zune touch… er… Zune HD


Fans of technology love the release of new gadgets, especially touch-screen, 3D capable, SDK-toting mobile app powerhouses which also incidentally, play music. Wait,outside of mobile phones, there is currently, only one device like that, the iPod touch. Sure, a slew of lookalikes have emerged from China and will continue in single-line forever over distant horizons. Some are actually quite good. But, aside from them, there have been too few wannabes. Creative’s Zii Egg gets honourable mention, but considering its market potential, there won’t be a proper iPod touch rip-off competitor until Microsoft’s Zune HD actually hits shelves.

The new Zune HD is an impressive device on paper, but so too, is every other me-too product. Its features bring it in line with myriad contemporary devices but a couple, however, stand out from the crowd: HD radio and Optical output (with proprietary dock). The first is likely to make more waves than the second, though both are notable additions. The iPod touch and iPhone have Broadcom FM radio chips inside, but Apple have disabled the hardware, an oversight which won’t cripple the Zune.


  • Product dimensions: 52.7 mm x 102.1 mm x 8.9 mm (w x h x d)
  • Flash storage capacity: 16 or 32 gigabytes
  • Battery life: Music, up to 33 hours (wireless off)
  • video, up to 8.5 hours
  • Charge Time: 3 hours hooked up to a PC; 2 hours plugged into AC adapter
  • Screen: 3.3-inch OLED color display
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • scratch-resistant glass with multi-touch capability
  • 480×272 pixels
  • Wireless connectivity: 802.11b/g compatible
  • wireless sync, WEP/WPA/WPA2 support
  • Picture Support: JPEG — (.jpg)

Expect the Tegra chip to be powering Zune HD owners’ shiny new devices for gaming and video decoding. How well will developers react to the new hardware is always a smart question to put forward. At the moment, mobile gaming, having enveloped devices like the iPhone and iPod touch, is more crowded than it ever was at the height of the 16 and 32 bit console wars which saw the rise and fall of many systems and companies. Since Microsoft aren’t selling the farm to fund the Zune, there should be no problem if their device fails to pick up steam. But, someone is bound to miss the target and victors will emerge.

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