Microsoft looks ahead to Zune HD

Posted by Randomus

Microsoft officials recently spoke with CDFreaks to discuss a few topics related to its Zune product line and where the company hopes to go in the future with the Zune HD MP3 player.

Much to the dismay of Microsoft, many bloggers and consumers continually compare Microsoft’s Zune to the Apple iPod, even though Microsoft has said that it’s not really worried about what competitors are doing.  Microsoft is “doing things differently with Zune — in addition to music, video and pictures, all our devices have an FM radio and the ability to buy or download content directly from the radio on the device.”

“Today we’re happy with the number of devices we’ve sold, and as we’ve said before, for Zune it’s about the longer-term strategy and the multi-year vision for this business,” CDFreaks was told by a Microsoft official.  “Increasingly, Zune’s focus is on areas where it is differentiating against the competition, such as the Zune Pass subscription service, which gives users access to millions of songs for the price of one CD a month and lets them keep 10 tracks a month to add to their permanent collection.”

Although many people are familiar with iTunes, they may not be familiar with Microsoft’s Zune Marketplace.

“(The) Zune Marketplace is doing well, we currently offer more than 5 million songs (more than 85 percent of which are available as DRM-free MP3s), 9,500 music videos, 6,000 episodes of popular TV shows and more than 10,000 audio and video podcasts.”

Last month, the company confirmed development of Zune HD, which will make use of the NVIDIA Tegra graphics chip.  Pricing still hasn’t been confirmed by Microsoft, but analysts expect it to be at least 10 to 15 percent cheaper than comparable iPods.

The Zune HD has a bright OLED touch screen interface, allowing owners to easily browse for music, TV shows, movies and other content.  It also has a full-screen Wi-Fi Internet browser with multi-touch support, along with a built-in HD radio receiver designed so owners can listen to music at higher quality.  Microsoft also is including HD output capabilities — using an HDMI A/V docking station it’ll be possible to connect the Zune HD and have content shown at 720p on an HDTV.

Microsoft ended our interview by pointing interested readers towards the official Zune HD web site.