The day we’ve all been waiting for is here – the Zune HD has arrived! This next gen portable media player has been getting rave reviews and was climbing the charts at Amazon long before its official launch. The hardware has received a significant update from the previous Zune versions and now features an OLED screen, high-definition video output to television, an HD radio receiver, and a touch screen for navigating through Zune’s various menus. The player also features a mobile version of the Internet Explorer web browser and yes, even apps. The Zune HD comes pre-loaded with some casual games, a calculator, and a MSN Weather app, but more are said to be coming soon.
Later this year, notes the press release, Microsoft will add Twitter for Zune and Facebook for Zune as well as some fun 3-D games including "Project Gotham Racing: Ferrari Edition," "Vans Sk8: Pool Service," and "Audiosurf(TM) Tilt." The games can be added to Zune HD via the Zune Marketplace over the Wi-Fi connection or when connected to the Zune PC software.
Also included in the Zune HD’s software are menus like Quickplay and Artist View. Quickplay tracks your favorite songs, most recent downloads, and recently played tunes while Artist View visually displays additional information about an artist or band including bio, discography, and photos. You can also manually add items to the Quickplay menu to make an easy playlist of your favorites. A Smart DJ feature creates endless playlists using any album, artist, or track as the starting feature – much like how streaming radio service Last.fm operates.
Zune Pass subscribers can download unlimited tracks for $14.99 per month – the cost of a single CD. They can also use the site at Zune.net to stream music via their PC.
This fall, the Zune service will be integrated with the Xbox 360 allowing Xbox LIVE users to buy and rent movies using their Zunes for viewing on their Xbox-connected TVs. You’ll later be able to download the files to the Zune for no additional fee.
Along with the Zune HD device, the Zune desktop software has been updated, too, to version 4.0. Here you can browse through the Marketplace, organize, and download music and videos. The software, of course, is Windows 7 compatible, and features jump lists for accessing menu controls right from the taskbar.