Microsoft Announces New Zune HD

REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft has announced the next generation of its Zune portable media player, Zune HD, which will be available in the U.S. this fall. Zune HD offers a built-in HD radio receiver, high-definition video output capabilities, organic light-emitting diode touch screen, Wi-Fi and an Internet browser.

Memory capacity in the Zune HD was not announced. Currently available Zune players offer up to 120 GB on a hard drive. Apple's iPod Touch models have 8GB, 16GB and 32 GB Flash drives.

Microsoft also announced that the Zune video service will be extended to Xbox LIVE internationally this fall, bringing the Zune brand to more than 17 million subscribers worldwide. Zune will occupy the first slot in the Xbox LIVE Video Marketplace. Microsoft will be demonstrating the integration of Zune and Xbox LIVE at the Electronic Entertainment Expo next week.

“The Zune music player is an integral part of the overall Zune experience, and we’re proud to be growing and extending our offering beyond the device,” said Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president of the Microsoft TV, Video and Music Business Group. “Delivering on Microsoft’s connected entertainment vision, this news marks a turning point for Zune as it brings cross-platform experiences and premium video content to living rooms around the world.”

The built-in HD radio receiver in Zune HD lets users listen to HD and traditional radio, with access to additional song and artist data broadcast by HD radio stations. Regular broadcast stations multicasting in HD also can offer HD2 or HD3 channels for additional programming.

The touch screen interface allows users to flip through music, movies and other content. The screen is in 16:9 widescreen format with 480x272 resolution.

Although the Zune HD can't play HD on its own screen, the HD-compatible output lets users play supported HD video files through a premium high-definition multimedia interface audiovisual docking station, which is sold separately, direct to an HD TV in 720p.

Zune HD will include a full-screen Internet browser and is Wi-Fi enabled, allowing for instant streaming to the device from the Zune music store, which offers users more than 5 million tracks.

Microsoft’s Zune platform includes a line of portable digital media players, software, the Zune Marketplace online store, Zune Pass music subscription service, and the Zune Social online music community. Zune is part of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division.