Zune HD line gets price cuts

Microsoft’s Zune HD media player has stepped up its game against the iPod Touch with lower prices on both available sizes.

The Zune HD is now $20 cheaper in both the 16 GB and 32 GB flavors through Microsoft’s store, selling for $200 and $270, respectively. Deeper discounts can be found at Amazon, which is selling the media players for $190 and $250.

Either way, Microsoft gains a bigger price advantage on Apple’s wildly popular iPod Touch, which costs $199, $299 or $399 for sizes of 8 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB.

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Microsoft released the Zune HD in September 2009. It has a 3.3-inch OLED touch screen with 720p video playback, HD Radio and a Web browser. The player runs pretty smoothly, thanks to an NVidia Tegra chip.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has floundered on competing with the iPod Touch’s App Store, which is arguably the most attractive aspect of Apple’s device. So far, Microsoft is developing all its Zune HD apps in house. The company released a set of free, basic apps and games immediately after launch, followed by another batch of free games that was released in November, this time taking advantage of the Tegra chip’s 3D capabilities.

A Twitter app followed in December, but Facebook is notably absent. Facebook’s Zune page says the owners will need to wait a little longer, even though the app was promised by the end of January.

The lack of apps might be a turn-off for some, but the Zune HD does have the advantage of HD Radio, so it’s still a good choice for people who are mostly interested in music and video, rather than games and other random apps.

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