Neowin Exclusive: Lets talk some Zune HD specs

Over the last week there has been a ton of buzz around Microsoft's upcoming device update which we have confirmed will be labeled as the Zune HD. We've teamed up with Ryan Rea (aka volvoshine) from LiveSide.net and are going to let the world know what we do and do not know about the Zune HD. We've got the green light to go ahead and share the specs that our sources within Microsoft have confirmed to us.

An overview of the Zune HD specs:

Unconfirmed rumors (A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment or confirm):
  • Camera?
  • Company insiders tipped us off with the possibility of a limited edition dock accessory in various colors.
  • 3D Xbox Game Support?
  • Windows Mobile 7 preview bits included? (Maybe these reports mean an early WinMo 7 beta?)
There has been a tremendous amount of buzz created throughout the past week regarding the Zune HD, with a ton of speculation regarding the device. We were asked by some members of the Zune team to remember, the device is still months away. The specs, UI, and the device form factor itself can change before the launch later this year. We're excited, just as many of our international viewers are excited.

The entire Zune platform is being completely overhauled, just as Steve Ballmer mentioned back at CES earlier this year. You've got the software division and the hardware division. There have been reports and speculation that this could possibly be the last Zune release, however I'm very confident that Microsoft is going to be competitive this time around with the Zune.

As we reported earlier this year, the Zune is here to stay. As soon as more information is available regarding the Zune HD, we'll pass it on. Remember, take the speculation and rumors with a grain of salt before getting too excited. Keep your eyes open on May 14, your Zune software might just be updating.

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well let's see here. Microsoft has a reputation on a 50/50 success ration with all their products, minus the ones they bought which historically have been great products, ie Excel (was purchased) vs Word (which was developed). From this analogy Excel was great from day one which Microsoft improved steadily. Word on the other hand was a piece of garbage until version 2000 came out. And that was about 5 or more iterations. And this is historically their pattern. Windows was their baby and they didn't get windows right until XP came out. And that was iteration 5. So I am guessing anything Zune should be a usable product by iteration 5. But seeing what Windows Mobile went the way of old stodgy software by version 6, they are in a rut and figure they have to save themselves otherwise, Apple, RIM and Google will give Microsoft a run for their money.

Or their saviour...Linux will save their ass and they will convert their entire platform...windows, zune, windows mobile and so on all based on Linux since it is open source, essentially free and a more robust platform to begin with. So Micorosoft will have to make structural changes on a technological standpoint if they are serious about their Zune or any other platform for that matter.

PLEASE, if Neowin has any connections, someone please foward the OBVIOUS and tell someone that Zune needs FLAC.

If you're going to make an excess device (seriously who needs HD at those small screen sizes), go excess with audio quality. I mean that's what Zune's all about, MUSIC. Let alone, HDD's are getting cheaper and bigger, people are downloading more. Quality is on the rise with all this HD, why not the music!

Gurrchan said,
PLEASE, if Neowin has any connections, someone please foward the OBVIOUS and tell someone that Zune needs FLAC.

If you're going to make an excess device (seriously who needs HD at those small screen sizes), go excess with audio quality. I mean that's what Zune's all about, MUSIC. Let alone, HDD's are getting cheaper and bigger, people are downloading more. Quality is on the rise with all this HD, why not the music!


Because having FLAC support would just be a waste of time. Most people who own an MP3 player have never even heard of FLAC. Also, the only way you're gonna hear a difference between MP3 and FLAC is if you have very high-end equipment. You're not gonna hear any difference at all on an MP3 player, even if you use high-end headphones.

MightyJordan said,

Because having FLAC support would just be a waste of time. Most people who own an MP3 player have never even heard of FLAC. Also, the only way you're gonna hear a difference between MP3 and FLAC is if you have very high-end equipment. You're not gonna hear any difference at all on an MP3 player, even if you use high-end headphones.

Just because someone may not necessarily hear a difference on their handheld device between FLAC and mp3 doesn't mean he/she would want to take the time to reencode FLAC rips to another format just for listening on their device...

Anyway.. What I'd love to see for the Zune is Linux support. As much as I don't like the iPod, it's versatile in the sense that you can use it with Windows, OSX, or Linux.. With third party programs nonetheless. I've got a 120GB Zune currently, but I'd buy a new one in a heartbeat if it was open to use with cross-platform third party software.

Aside from that, the only other gripe I have with the Zune is that you can't use scrobbling services (ex. Last.fm) with it. I wish they'd implement that.

If this actually had a 120GB hard drive and a capacitive touchscreen, it would most likely be the most winner handheld yet. A phone would make it even better, but meh, I'd rather have a small phone.

For those of you disappointed about the 120gb model, we're getting mixed reports from various sources. Not sure if Microsoft is trying to hush us up or what.

does going international mean it finally supports full (or a lot) unicode range?

my playlists have a mix of chinese, japanese, russian, thai and a couple of english songs...

Ah, again, I was excited to see 120GB confirmed and then crossed out again. I really hope it does come, it wound be a great contender to the iPod space wise.

**** that bull ****, no 120gb?
****, no thanks zune, 32gb or less will not cut it for me and the lack of an EQ, you just lost another zune customer.

I wouldn't worry about the price, there not going to out compete the ipod (a well established product) by costing more will they?
This has to be cheaper than the ipod touch and microsoft has the funds to take a hit (as with the original xbox) but if it gets them their foot in the door then thats all they want.
This scenario reminds me xbox vs ps2, ps2 was the undoubted king but xbox got just enough marketshare then we all saw what happened with 360 and ps3.
This zune version is NOT goign to outsell the Ipod any time soon, but it will get the foot in the door and next round i belive we will see a similar situation as with the consoles.

Im so glad its international this time, im in australia and have set aside about 400$.

Hitman2000 said,
This zune version is NOT goign to outsell the Ipod any time soon, but it will get the foot in the door and next round i belive we will see a similar situation as with the consoles.


People said the same sort of thing when the Zune was first released. Microsoft doesn't have the first clue about how to market the Zune. Ask the majority of consumers if they have heard of the Zune. Most of them have never even heard of it, or who makes it. Microsoft simply does not advertize them anywhere that I've ever seen. Even if they did, I doubt they could get anywhere near the brand recognition of the iPod. They are simply too far behind to ever catch up in the forseeable future.

if only microsoft would make a phone/zune hybrid to compete with the iphone. i just can't justify carrying around two devices (phone and music player) all the time. especially when i already own an iphone - one device which offers the functionality of both and more. but i don't like being forced to be part of the apple brotherhood just because there's not really any true/quality competition.

ok i joined this forum just for this post........ whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatttttttttttttt there is no 120 gb noooooooo how do you guys know this?!?!?!?

You may find that they introduce the device at a price point where they are making a loss, due to component costs, but its a gamble, because if the device is a hit they will be able to recoup later one.

I'm sooo looking forward to this

I'd love for one of these, I don't want to buy another iPod, my 80gb classic is about to fill up, I would love for them to come out with OS X compatible software though

hope it can play 720p files and output as 720p to a tv via hdmi port. Even if the screen is low res being able to output at a high res to a tv would be great, 720p tv shows = mmm

Oh my god... They are giving me such a hard time , now I have to chose between the awesome Sony Walkman X series (I already have had another Walkman and another Zune before, and the Walkman wins in sound quality, hands down, but it felt so great using the Zune I was and still am completely puzzled).

They'll probably roll in apps and games into the Zune market place as well.

If I was MS and if this does have the tegra inside, then I'd mold Zune marketplace and XBL marketplace into one and have the Zune HD playing XBLA games. Plus people can use XNA studio to make newer games and Silverlight to make apps instead of jscript etc.

Did you miss the part about having an HDMI out connection? You can show up to a friends house and if they have a HD TV just plug it in and play your HD videos back.

It will stream to HD screens. With Tegra it is able to process HD content and stream it, it doesn't need to display it in the 3" screen. That way the Zune device becomes actually quite handy.

Going on a trip ? Just load your mega-collection of 720p episodes of Mythbusters on your Zune and you're ready for a seamless experience : on the train just start your Zune and watch the epi, and anytime you've got access to a telly, plug-in your Zune and watch your epi on "real" HD. No need for conversion, no need to have some cr**pish over-compressed videos in your Zune, your media plays everywhere ... the same way.

What does "Windows Mobile7 preview bits included?" mean? Will the zune software and Winmo7 be separate but similar? Will they provide hardware and the OS or just the OS. It seems MS has a ton going on right now.

It is likely that some of the features that will come with WinMo7 are Zune related, so the new Zune will actually be a showcase for some of the niceties we'll see later on Windows Phones.

PS : Zune is a GUI layer above Windows CE and since WinMo is just a "distribution" of WinCE it's very likely that this new Zune will actually be a WinMo device with a Zune layer.

Techno-lover said,
They better have EQUALIZER added to it, better yet a custom EQUALIZER
I am praying that add one, **** that would make my day/year/etc


I hope it doesn't.

Sign me up right now! Seeing that there will be a 120GB is amazing. I hope this turns out to be a show stopper of a device. Go Microsoft!

I'd say around * inches, but no definite number. So an estimate. But I didn't write the article. All I can say is I commonly add -ish to the end of words when I don't know the exact value of something.

What makes this more expensive than the iPod Touch, we don't really know how much Tegra will cost, could be dirt cheap. I've seen 3" OLED's in cellphones. HD Radio can't be ridiculous expensive, a deck for your car isn't.

artzm said,
I've seen 3" OLED's in cellphones.

Cellphones are subsidized however.

If it has an OLED Screen the price will be high.

Binary said,
Cellphones are subsidized however.

If it has an OLED Screen the price will be high.

No necessarily. It's all about scale. If you make enough of them, OLEDs are cheaper than LCDs.

So why are they releasing a 4 GB model? Wasn't Microsoft in the process of phasing out the 4 GB flash model? Why make another one? Seems suspect to me... as does the OLED screen. Not that I wouldn't love one, but...

wow... could be awesome O_O

What can kill this or seriously handicap the device:
- No Capacitive multitouch (Resistive sucks, end of the story)
- Poor software distribution and prices (Apple force for getting low prices)
- No OSX support (If they want to compete with Apple, go on it's own turf. Apple already do this on Windows)
- Web browser: IE Mobile cannot compete with Opera and Safari.
- No PDA features (This is why I brought the iTouch)

The Zune isn't really trying to be a PDA. But on the other end it could very well have some, but not all, of whatever WinMo7 phones will have next year.

Actually if they're going to push applications on Marketplace then i'll bet you'll have the complete PDA features in a heartbeat. Those specs + applications in marketplace = game changer. Especially if applications use Silverlight 3 technology and not some ugly JScript.

What can kill this or seriously handicap the device:

- No Capacitive multitouch (Resistive sucks, end of the story)
>> Not important at all for a simple MP3 device like the Zune or the Touch ( for a phone or a pda that's another story ) . Your argument is invalid.

- Poor software distribution and prices (Apple force for getting low prices)
>> I don't care about software when I buy a MP3. Argument invalid.

- No OSX support (If they want to compete with Apple, go on it's own turf.
Apple already do this on Windows)
>>LOL ! You call this a serious handicap ? *joke mode on* No OSX support is a good riddance :D * joke mode off* A simple "removable USB stick" ( instead of a stupid catalog/disk encryption like we can see on the Touch that forces yoou to install this piece of junk called itunes ... ) emulation is a good backup solution for OSX if m$ don't port the Zune Software to OSX.

- Web browser: IE Mobile cannot compete with Opera and Safari.
>>I don't care about teh Int3rweb browser when I buy a MP3 player. Argument invalid.

- No PDA features (This is why I brought the iTouch)
>> For sure there's no PDA features, that a MP3 player. I never used the contacts or PDA features of the touch, they're lame ( No outlook sync - email, calendar, contacts.) and on top of that, I already have a perfect WinMo devices for my PDA needs. Argument invalid.

That is all

@kazuyette,

- Well, you know the "M" in "PMP" doesn't actually stand for "MP3" It stands for "Media". While multitouch, software distribution and web browsing don't play a significant role in media playback itself, they can provide the user with a better overall experience : touch allows an intuitive way to use the device, a software platform would mean flexibility and more features, and a web browser can bring an openness feeling.

If it was only about MP3 playback then all media players would be the same, actually it's all those little additions making your life easier that make you prefer a device over another.

to me, the real showstopper could be the battery life. OLED is great for saving, but Tegra doesn't sound like a great energy saver to me. The 120gb version could also suffer while playing video as it would need to spin up the HD quite frequently to fill the buffer with more data (even for SD content, you need around 10 megs per minute for a decent rip).

@kazuyette,
Only few people will pay so high to get only MP3 on such devices
The ZuneHD depicted in the rumors are DEFINITELY an answer to the iPod Touch witch is NOT ONLY an MP3 player.
If you want to get a ZuneHD/iPodTouch only for MP3, that YOUR thing, but this devices aren't made for you, they are made for people that want MORE than an MP3 Player, therefore, your arguments are invalids considering that you aren't the kind of people targeted by such devices.

And seriously, you are invaliding my argument about the PDA features because YOU own a PDA? What kind of argumentation is that? What kind of senses it make?
Ahh... whatever...

kazuyette said,
What can kill this or seriously handicap the device:

- No Capacitive multitouch (Resistive sucks, end of the story)
>> Not important at all for a simple MP3 device like the Zune or the Touch ( for a phone or a pda that's another story ) . Your argument is invalid.

- Poor software distribution and prices (Apple force for getting low prices)
>> I don't care about software when I buy a MP3. Argument invalid.

Do you even understand what the term invalid means in the context of an argument? It means the structure of the argument is flawed introducing a fallacy which negates the arguments validity.

Your opinions don't invalidate his arguments. They're also self defeating. You say his argument about apps is incorrect because you don't care about apps on an mp3 player, but the player itself contradicts these arguments by playing movies, tv shows and games which by definition makes it more than an mp3 player.

Also, even if we accepted that it's only an mp3 player, why are precise controls less relevant. Why do I need precise controls when navigating a long list of contacts and not when navigating a long list of songs?

Jeff Flowerday said,
Click on the Tegra link above and you'll see 864x480.


So in other words, the Zune HD isn't HD unless you output to a TV.

roadwarrior said,
So in other words, the Zune HD isn't HD unless you output to a TV.

864x480 is pretty high resolution for that screen size. You probably couldn't tell the difference if they made it higher resolution. Plus, I imagine driving a HD screen would be a real engineering challenge for a device that small.

MioTheGreat said,
864x480 is pretty high resolution for that screen size. You probably couldn't tell the difference if they made it higher resolution. Plus, I imagine driving a HD screen would be a real engineering challenge for a device that small.


No matter how you try to spin it, 480 vertical resolution is not HD. Calling the device "Zune HD" borders on false advertizing.

roadwarrior said,
No matter how you try to spin it, 480 vertical resolution is not HD. Calling the device "Zune HD" borders on false advertizing.

No matter how you spin it HD has absolutely no technical meaning. In the early days when 1080i was considered the holy grail there were 480p tv's marketed as HD (they were later rebranded ED or enhanced definition).

roadwarrior said,
No matter how you try to spin it, 480 vertical resolution is not HD. Calling the device "Zune HD" borders on false advertizing.

I'm pretty sure the HD moniker comes from its HDMI output. How is that false advertising? If it's capable of PLAYING HD content without being forced to reencode before hand, that's good enough for me, because without a magnifying glass, there's no way I'd be able to tell either way on the device's screen, and neither would you.

Any .net compatible language I suppose.

C# is the language of God, the universe was made with C#, I love C#, give us some C# ... C# ... return(0) ... ugh

Any reason why they arn't doing 60GB? 32 is too small, but 120 is way to much for me, and im guessing the price would be considerably more. Guess I'll stick to my ooold ZVM

It looks like everything up to the 32GB is flash based, while the 120GB is probably a hard drive. 64GB of flash would be expensive and 120GB is on the cheap end of hard drives.

There is absolutely nothing preventing Apple to release a new iPod touch with similar or better specs this year. Because let's not forget that the current iPod touch is already over seven months old.

What does this mean:
* WiFi compatible, with wireless marketplace.
It's only compatible with the marketplace? Does this mean it has a browser, but it only goes to the marketplace?

JoDaddy said,
What does this mean:
* WiFi compatible, with wireless marketplace.
It's only compatible with the marketplace? Does this mean it has a browser, but it only goes to the marketplace?

No. Two seperate statements.
It has WiFi.
It has a (WiFi) Marketplace.

While it's specs are damn nice, I would say that the App Store is what makes the iPod touch much more desirable. The amount of games you can get for it is unreal. I know they say there will be a store now, but its not the store that's special, its what's in it that counts.

I hope so, I don't own one but I think every phone/platform should have a sweet App Store. It's always been a bitch to get programs on the devices Apple nailed it just right I hope all the planned stores, Microsoft/Rim/Palm all turn out great. Just hope they don't try to screw developers, there's lots of money to be made in this business and in today's economy new business ideas are quite valuable.

The way he worded it doesn't sound like that. But either way, if it can output 720p at the least to a HD TV it should do everything lower as well.

Wowa Tegra confirmed, I just hope they won't have early life problems like exploding due to heat :D

Anyway, if anyone had doubt, the doubt is gone now, this is clearly the setup for the zune phone.

They're going to be adding the Zune software bits into WinMo7. So basically every future WinMo7 smartphone will be a Zune in a sense.

artzm said,
There is no Zune Phone and never will be.


Really? I think Microsoft watch-dogs like Tom Warren, Mary J. Foley, Paul Thurrot, and myself would disagree with that statement. We all know that Project Pink has been in development for over a year, and is expected sometime in 2010 :).

The last 2 paragraphs are confusing... "could be the laste Zune release..." and soon after: "as we reported earlier this year, the Zune is here to stay."

The point is, the Zune platform is here to stay, but that this may be the last dedicated Zune device made by Microsoft. (at least, some have said.) They may turn it into something that third party vendors can build on, or start including it into the Windows Mobile phone platform.

gazebee2001 said,
The last 2 paragraphs are confusing... "could be the laste Zune release..." and soon after: "as we reported earlier this year, the Zune is here to stay."


Re-read it, there have been rumors that this will be the last device, while we are very confident that it is not as we reported back in January. The Zune is here to stay.

Yup there is a lot of buzz about this Zune HD. i would like to try it as well . When is it gonna come to the market. ?
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