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

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 180
    godriflegodrifle Posts: 266member
    ...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!
  • Reply 2 of 180
    davebarnesdavebarnes Posts: 272member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    will use OLED



    How will Apple ever be able to catch up? Microsoft has pwnd Apple.
  • Reply 3 of 180
    feynmanfeynman Posts: 1,087member
    While it's not fugly like the original Zune, it does have visible screws where the iPod/iPod Touch never had.
  • Reply 4 of 180
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Zune's general global marketing .



    Global? It can't even go municipal. It can only go marsupial.
  • Reply 5 of 180
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,279member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 180
    justflybobjustflybob Posts: 1,337member
    Sorry, but you lost me at Microsoft says...
  • Reply 7 of 180
    pinepine Posts: 22member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 180
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,279member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 180
    So we're effectively still waiting for MS to come up with an original idea...
  • Reply 10 of 180
    piotpiot Posts: 1,346member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lightstriker View Post


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



  • Reply 11 of 180
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    Finally they make something beautiful and then screw it up with 4 screws on the back.



    <shaking head>
  • Reply 12 of 180
    floccusfloccus Posts: 138member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 180
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 180
    aplnubaplnub Posts: 2,591member
    Selling on price is not good practice.
  • Reply 15 of 180
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,429member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 180
    slapppyslapppy Posts: 331member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 180
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    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...
  • Reply 18 of 180
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 180
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 180
    wobegonwobegon Posts: 764member
    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).
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