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Microsoft says Zune HD is real, will get multi-touch

post #1 of 181
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After two years of watching iPod sales pass it by, Microsoft has drawn a line in the sand and says it has a new Zune with hardware features to thwart the iPod touch, including a multi-touch display.

Instead of reserving its details for a full announcement, Microsoft on Tuesday night tipped its hand early and provided some preliminary but important details of the new player.

All but confirmed as early as April, the Zune HD will finally drop physical buttons in favor of a touchscreen display. Microsoft's will be slightly lower-resolution than Apple's -- 480x272 instead of the iPod's 480x320 -- but, according to what was told to Engadget, will be slightly smaller than Apple's at 3.3 inches diagonal and, in a more obvious break, will use OLED (organic light emitting diode) technology in place of LCD. The newer approach produces richer colors and, since it doesn't need a backlight, produces true blacks while simultaneously consuming less battery life.

Multi-touch will indeed play a role, but Microsoft wasn't keen to say what features would be enabled. It quickly shut down rumors that Windows Mobile might lie underneath and instead said it was using a very extensively modified version of Windows CE.

As suggested by the name, HD content will play an important part in the new Zune, though not as elaborately as alluded to in rumors. HD video will require a new dock and can't be played on the Zune itself. Microsoft also claims a particular first in its use of HD Radio: the Zune HD will be one of the first handheld devices with an HD Radio tuner, which should support digitlal-quality broadcasts on sub-channels of the FM band.



In step with the new freedom afforded by a touch display, the new player will do more with its Wi-Fi than just download from the Zune Marketplace or "squirt" songs to fellow Zune owners. Microsoft says it has developed a customized version of Internet Explorer made just for the Zune HD that hinges on touch for navigation.

The Redmond, Washington-based electronics maker also revealed that it intends to push the Zune name far deeper into its line than before. At next week's E3 gaming trade show, Microsoft intends to replace the Xbox Video Marketplace with a Zune-labeled service. Although it wouldn't say so explicitly, Microsoft implied that movies and TV shows from the Xbox 360 may port over to the Zune, or vice versa. Microsoft wouldn't elaborate on games, either, but did hint at touchscreen-aware games and similar apps.

Zune HD devices will ship in the fall to Canada, Europe and the US, but won't completely oust the existing Zune lineup; it's mostly the smaller flash players that will make their exit when the new hardware arrives, Zune's general global marketing head Chris Stephenson told CNET. Capacities, prices and many of the other more concrete details weren't provided, but the Zune HD will be the "definitive" Zune.

Whatever its ultimate place among Microsoft's own line, the firm makes no bones about what the Zune HD's role will be in the market: it's "created to go head to head" with the iPod touch, Stephenson said. Where smaller competitors like iRiver and Samsung have had their own touchscreen devices for months or more, Microsoft has gone without its own in the roughly 1.5 years since the iPod touch first hit the market -- a factor which has helped maintain over 70 percent market share in the US for iPods and a $100 million plunge in Zune revenue from late 2007 to late 2008.

Combined with a new anti-iPod ad campaign for the Zune Pass unlimited subscription music service, the Zune HD signals a renewed interest on the part of Microsoft, which has been making noise about touch computing in Windows 7 and Windows Mobile but, without even a single-touch Zune to its name, has almost exclusively been left by the wayside in the handheld device space.
post #2 of 181
...it's also beautiful. So, Microsoft beats Apple to the punch with a beautiful device that is multitouch and while it carries the moniker of HD it is actually lower resolution that iPod Touch.

Awesome!
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post #3 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

will use OLED

How will Apple ever be able to catch up? Microsoft has pwnd Apple.
post #4 of 181
While it's not fugly like the original Zune, it does have visible screws where the iPod/iPod Touch never had.
post #5 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Zune's general global marketing .

Global? It can't even go municipal. It can only go marsupial.
post #6 of 181
Apple's dooooooooooooooomed. :P


We'll see how the software stacks up to the iPod Touch coming out this year. I doubt it'll offer anything that would sway me from wanting to pick up 3-4 iPod Touch.
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post #7 of 181
Sorry, but you lost me at Microsoft says...
Pity the agnostic dyslectic. They spend all their time contemplating the existence of dog.
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Pity the agnostic dyslectic. They spend all their time contemplating the existence of dog.
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post #8 of 181
The OLED display almost seems like a must now for the new iPhone. It's a key feature a lot of people want and Microsoft has beaten apple to.
post #9 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pine View Post

The OLED display almost seems like a must now for the new iPhone. It's a key feature a lot of people want and Microsoft has beaten apple to.

You mean beaten Apple to announcing it. The Zune HD isn't shipping yet.
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post #10 of 181
So we're effectively still waiting for MS to come up with an original idea...
post #11 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by lightstriker View Post

Global? It can't even go municipal. It can only go marsupial.

post #12 of 181
Finally they make something beautiful and then screw it up with 4 screws on the back.

<shaking head>
post #13 of 181
This could actually be the best thing going for the OLED right now. OLED displays still have life span issues, but given the relatively short amount of time people would want to use a Zune, it won't matter. MS placing large orders of displays though will put more $$ into OLED research, so hopefully by the time Apple adopts them they'll have all the kinks worked out. I hope a bunch of people buy these, find out they're rubbish, then hock them off on Ebay and get a Touch while they're there.
post #14 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by godrifle View Post

...it's also beautiful. So, Microsoft beats Apple to the punch with a beautiful device that is multitouch and while it carries the moniker of HD it is actually lower resolution that iPod Touch.

Awesome!

In all fairness, it does have a smaller screen which technically does give it a slightly higher pixel-per-inch that the iPod Touch which has a 163ppi compared to this Zune’s whopping 167ppi.
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post #15 of 181
Selling on price is not good practice.
Hard-Core.
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Hard-Core.
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post #16 of 181
Competition will force innovation (from both sides), so this is good news. Consumers are better off if there is a worthy adversary to the iPod touch.

In the end, it's really about the software. Microsoft will not gain significant marketshare until they nurture a great app store.
post #17 of 181
Lost revenues year after year, millions and millions... not a problem. Eventually you will get it right, catch up and surpass your competitor. The competitor that has to stay ahead with real innovative work and real sales numbers to fund the product line.
post #18 of 181
Microsoft Bob and Clippy is the only original ideas Microsoft ever had.

Why do I get a sense that this article is absolutely uninteresting?

I think, I'll go watch another near free online movie from Netflix...

...yes I know it uses Silverlight...I can dump Firefox and reinstall it free of the plug-in later...
The danger is that we sleepwalk into a world where cabals of corporations control not only the mainstream devices and the software on them, but also the entire ecosystem of online services around...
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The danger is that we sleepwalk into a world where cabals of corporations control not only the mainstream devices and the software on them, but also the entire ecosystem of online services around...
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post #19 of 181
This new Zune runs WinCE which could mean a slick Windows-based smartphone coming to market in the future. If I didn’t have an iDevice I’d probably get a Zune. Since their v2.0 update they have quite good in comparison to the other non-Apple options.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pine View Post

The OLED display almost seems like a must now for the new iPhone. It's a key feature a lot of people want and Microsoft has beaten apple to.

I’m not so sure. It certainly has the marketing hype going for it, but there is evidence that any power savings on such a small screen is non-existant and I’ve even heard that they can use more power at this point in their evolution.

The good news is that Apple now has time to make the next iPhone OLED if it does feel threatened in any way. They were able to change the original iPhone cover from plastic to glass almost overnight so unless they have already purchased the displays it may happen.
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post #20 of 181
I noticed 2 posts that said this was "beautiful," and I have to disagree. It's looks disgusting compared to an iPod Touch, the only good thing it has going for it, aesthetically, is that it probably won't scratch as bad so it won't need a case.
post #21 of 181
If the Zune HD comes with an OLED, I think it's almost a given the upcoming iPhone and iPod touch refreshes will as well. Sony recently released an mp3 player with one and it wasn't exorbitantly more expensive as far as I remember.

What'll be funny is if the iPod touch gets a camera like the next iPod nano is rumored to be getting. Suddenly it's a question of Zune HD vs. iPod touch with camera (and probably video recording).
False comparisons do not a valid argument make.
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False comparisons do not a valid argument make.
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post #22 of 181
Once its wrapped up in a rubber sleeve like my touch is (gotta protect the scratch magnet), it will look nearly identical...


if they had made the back rounded and smooth, people would have complained that it was identical to the ipod, and wonked on. They picked a different style - "industrial" - and they get pinged for having screws...

I wonder if that means the user can easily replace the battery
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post #23 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by cycomiko View Post

I wonder if that means the user can easily replace the battery

I think screwsespecially what look like four custom or hex screwspretty much take "easily replaceable" out of the picture.
False comparisons do not a valid argument make.
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False comparisons do not a valid argument make.
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post #24 of 181
I can't see it. Most people don't care about, nor know, the difference between OLED vs LCD.

Unless it actually makes a significant difference in battery life or visual clarity it's not a selling point.

Radio? I don't get this either. It's not a bad feature, but with Pandora and Podcasts traditional radio just seems... antiquated.

MS is going to have to way than simply copying the iPod Touch if it wants to make any headway.
post #25 of 181
I recall reading a similar such press release from MS a few years ago, and maybe one a few years before that. They just change the words around a bit.

yawn.
post #26 of 181
d
Quote:
Originally Posted by justflybob View Post

sorry, but you lost me at microsoft says...

: lol good one dude
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whats in a name ? 
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post #27 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by misterjingles View Post

I can't see it. Most people don't care about, nor know, the difference between OLED vs LCD.

Unless it actually makes a significant difference in battery life or visual clarity it's not a selling point.

Radio? I don't get this either. It's not a bad feature, but with Pandora and Podcasts traditional radio just seems antiquated.

I think OLED is becoming the new marketing techno-jargon for displays. I couldnt care less about it, too, unless it actually provides some worthwhile benefit to the device.

As for a radio, this didnt help other players compete against against the original iPod and its even less likely to work now. Sure, there are few that want a radio but that demand is small and seems to be getting smaller, regardless of HD radio.
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post #28 of 181
logo in the right spot. black bottom. glass front... anyone see it?

i am remembering something from the first apple keynote i ever saw, "redmond, start your copiers"
post #29 of 181
Ah, derivative Microsoft. Decent looks (except for those screws that will surely gather crud) notwithstanding, they don't seem to understand that it's primarily about the software.

When's their phone coming out?
post #30 of 181
One thing Microsoft is very good at doing is hitting the "start" button on all their copy machines. It's really quite sad that the powers-at-be just don't get it.

Even if the product is made well to be worthy hardware-specs wise to an iPod Touch, Microsoft time and again has proven to be quite inept at providing a all-encompassing user experience. They will most likely continue their draconian DRM implementations and buggy software.

That being said, at the minimum it will keep Apple to continue innovation. It's pathetic that a company the size of Microsoft can put those billions of dollars in the bank to use and develop something that is actually original and unique.

Good luck M$. History has shown that you are consistently failing. Perhaps you will surprise us. Prove us wrong!
post #31 of 181
The fact that it can't play HD movies and tv shows on the actual device is deffinitely a turn off for me. I have purchased a lot of HD content from itunes for my iPhone and there is a significant difference between SD and HD. I think my iPhone picture looks amazing. What's the point of calling it a Zune HD if it can't even play HD content on the device itself?
post #32 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

You mean beaten Apple to announcing it. The Zune HD isn't shipping yet.


Exactly! We're comparing to a product that has no solid ship date (sometime in fall). Apple is intro'ing new iPhones next month and maybe new iPod Touches so we'll see how it all shakes out with the latest from Apple and this new Zune when it finally ships.

MS can never keep a secret and often they float these annoucements to create FUD so people on the fence between MS and Apple products will wait a bit longer rather than make a quick buy on a Apple product. I don't know who those people are but MS seems to think there's enough to require this release of info.

I hope they do well. We need the competition to keep the innovation flowing.
post #33 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

they don't seem to understand that it's primarily about the software.

Rather ironic since MS is supposedly a software shop.
post #34 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

.... and often they float these annoucements to create FUD so people on the fence between MS and Apple products will wait a bit longer rather than make a quick buy on a Apple product.......

Yup, "freezing the market" as it is sometimes called. Used to happen in the telecom industry a lot in the early 2000s (Lucent Technologies used to be Exhibit A with this tactic). It used to work somewhat well when the do-er was big and do-ee was small. It's not going to work for Microsoft: Apple's way beyond this now.

Even though (I think) the US Department of Justice should really be looking at behavior like this, there is no law against it.
post #35 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by misterjingles View Post

Rather ironic since MS is supposedly a software shop.

Excellent point.
post #36 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pine View Post

The OLED display almost seems like a must now for the new iPhone. It's a key feature a lot of people want and Microsoft has beaten apple to.

Go ask 10 people on the street if they want OLED in their PMPs... after u explain that a PMP is a fancy geek term for iPod, then after you explain what OLED is, you'll quickly realize nobody is truly clamoring for it.
post #37 of 181
Apple better get rid of those awful screens they been using on the iPhone and the Touch quick, remember even though you only pay $199 for a iphone AT&T pays Apple the other $300. Black on the current screens look more like dark gray, OLED solves that problem, deeper black and brighter whites.
post #38 of 181
When will the iPhone wannabees ever learn???? 40,000 Apps, 1 Billion downloads, Robust SDK....if you do not have a rich SDK and developers who are drooling to port their already developed iPhone apps to the new iPhone wannabee...you are DEAD IN THE WATER. The new Palm Pre comes out June 6th....Big Deal, I have no ambition as an iPhone developer to port my apps....where is the attractive SDK??? If you do not have an SDK, an app store and a 70/30 split or something similar....I'm not interested; I'll write more iPhone apps!! Palm should compare their Pre to the Storm in the market place, not the iPhone. Come on guys (mobile device makers) get a clue!
post #39 of 181
When will the iPhone wannabees ever learn???? 40,000 Apps, 1 Billion downloads, Robust SDK....if you do not have a rich SDK and developers who are drooling to port their already developed iPhone apps to the new iPhone wannabee...you are DEAD IN THE WATER. The new Palm Pre comes out June 6th....Big Deal, I have no ambition as an iPhone developer to port my apps....where is the attractive SDK??? If you do not have an SDK, an app store and a 70/30 split or something similar....I'm not interested; I'll write more iPhone apps!! Palm should compare their Pre to the Storm in the market place, not the iPhone. Come on guys (mobile device makers) get a clue!
post #40 of 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

. . . Black on the current screens look more like dark gray, OLED solves that problem, deeper black and brighter whites.

Doesn't change my mind . . . I would rather have something that just works (iPhone/iTouch) than something that has a slightly better black or white image.
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