Updated: What to expect when the Zune HD launches next month

Earlier this year, we told the world what the Zune HD was, how it was going to be built, and shocked the world with news of an international launch. Now that we're getting closer to the September launch, here's what to expect next month when the Zune HD launches.

So what does the Zune HD look like?

What's under the hood of this thing?

  • 3.3 inch OLED full touch screen.
  • NVIDIA Tegra powered.
  • 4GB?, 8GB?, 16GB, and 32GB versions.
  • HDMI Connection to stream straight to your TV.
  • HD Radio.
  • Web Browser.
  • WiFi compatible, with wireless marketplace.
  • Limited edition home AV packs, car packs, charge packs.

On top of everything listed above, the Zune HD will feature a new UI. We haven't seen much of the new UI, besides the demonstration that Microsoft CEO gave Engadget back in May. However at the recent GDGT launch party in San Francisco, Microsoft showed off the UI and media playback. Check it out:

Microsoft has still yet to announce pricing for the Zune HD, but company insiders say that the $249 - $280 range is right on target. More details to be announced soon.

Update: Pricing for the Zune HD has been leaked, more information is available here.

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It does look very nice. If I had need for a seperate media player, I have to say I'd be giving one of those some serious consideration.

actually, 720p means it can display that 1280x720 píxel, and since this is a portable device with a screen attached to it, it doesn't matter if you can take it to your house and use it there, if the screen isn't 1280x720 píxels, it's not HD.

I got a video card in my pc that can display 1080p easily even if my monitor is just a 1440x900 size. Is my pc 1080p or even 1600p? no.

Unless they are just trying to trick people that this one is better by using "HD".

What are you talking about? It can play back to an external monitor @ 720p. Just like lots of other HD equipment. The local screen is a bonus. I don't think you would stare at the small screen while on your sofa if you could dock it to your TV would you?

Vakerorokero said,
actually, 720p means it can display that 1280x720 p?l, and since this is a portable device with a screen attached to it, it doesn't matter if you can take it to your house and use it there, if the screen isn't 1280x720 p?ls, it's not HD.


So you are going to argue semantics to make MS look bad. Is the device able to decode and play HD video or is it not? YES, it can play HD video. The video scales down on the device, but plays at HD resolution on TVs. The device is capable of HD. Not to mention the HD radio included in the device. So HD is not a marketing trick, despite what the anti-MS mafia would have people believe.

I got a video card in my pc that can display 1080p easily even if my monitor is just a 1440x900 size. Is my pc 1080p or even 1600p? no.


Wrong. If your PC is capable of decoding and outputting 1080p, then your PC is in fact 1080p. On the flip side, if you have a 1080p monitor, it is useless without the underlying hardware to decode and play 1080p video, for example the Atom platform. How valuable is that 1080p monitor when the hardware can only handle 480p?

Uhh, guys? It's capable of outputting over a HDMI connection to any HDMI screen you have? So uhh, yeah, HD does matter at that size. Not a marketing trick, a usable product.

Doubt it. I think the meaning of HD has changed to just more pixels on a small screen rather than having at least 1920x1080 or 1280x720 pixels on any screen. The Zune software converts the videos to a new format such as MP4 anyway before it is loaded into the device. So it won't be "full" or "half" HD.

Lamp0 said,
Does HD really matter at that size?

The HD is a marketing trick, to make it sound better than it actually is. Microsoft do this every now and again, and I am sure this device doesn't need it, it looks good enough with this trickery.

Lamp0 said,
Does HD really matter at that size?

God, more people that dont have a clue.

HD = HD Radio
HD = Able to play back 720p video which no iPod/iPhone can do
HD = Able to output that 720p via HDMI to a TV, so you can take your movies to your friends house without worrying wether the file you have is compatible with any of his devices.

Richard Hammond said,
God, more people that dont have a clue.

HD = HD Radio
HD = Able to play back 720p video which no iPod/iPhone can do
HD = Able to output that 720p via HDMI to a TV, so you can take your movies to your friends house without worrying wether the file you have is compatible with any of his devices.

That's a lot of explanations without addressing the fact that the screen is only 480 x 272, the same size as the ipod touch and many cellphones. It can output hd but the actual device isn't hd.

Vakerorokero said,
That's a lot of explanations without addressing the fact that the screen is only 480 x 272, the same size as the ipod touch and many cellphones. It can output hd but the actual device isn't hd.


You apparently fail to understand. The device IS HD, because it is capable of decoding and playing HD video. The HD video is scaled down on the device to match the native rez, but plays at 720p when output to TV. Therefore, THE DEVICE HANDLES HD VIDEO.

It's not that hard. Really.

TonyLock said,
Can anyone say "Apple Inspired"?

Um, I don't see it... Is it the touch screen, which of course Apple invented and is the only company that uses such a feature?

TonyLock said,
Can anyone say "Apple Inspired"?

How dare you, everything that Microsoft does is a unique flower, never before even thought of by anyone outside of Redmond. For example, the new Microsoft store is a completely new concept linking big tech companies directly to the the people, the xBox was a completely unique device with no parallels, the old Zune was a game changer for everyone in the mp3 world, bing is the world first search engine to display Microsoft friendly searches.

Wow, the new Zune is so sexy... I definitely plan on looking at one (Maybe in a Microsoft Store if Microsoft opens one near me??). Maybe I'll switch from my iPod...

You are right, it does look good, would love to see one in the real world. I am also looking forward to what Apple release in september, hopefully they will answer this with a new improved touch.

And I don't believe for a second that you have ever owned an ipod.

None that I've seen, at the moment it's US only. However, I'm guessing probably towards the end of this year/early next it will release in other countries (maybe even sooner) as well, but so far all the articles I've read are saying it's coming soon to the US and do not mention other countries yet.

I would still like to know how a touch-screen-driven device also double as a HD movie screen. Wouldn't you want to keep that screen free of fingerprints and smudges?

Also, if I have a few hundred "non-legit" MP3s, can I listen to those on my Zune? Or, only songs/movies purchased through a Zune store or has some kind of legit ID tag? What are the restrictions?

Sorry, I'm new to this whole MP3 player scene... if you couldn't already tell.

You're free to put whatever you want on the Zune - no restrictions there. The restrictions are on what you can do with subscription music acquired through Zune Pass, and some of the purchased music (although it's getting to where most purchased music comes as unprotected mp3).

frypiggy said,
I would still like to know how a touch-screen-driven device also double as a HD movie screen. Wouldn't you want to keep that screen free of fingerprints and smudges?

Also, if I have a few hundred "non-legit" MP3s, can I listen to those on my Zune? Or, only songs/movies purchased through a Zune store or has some kind of legit ID tag? What are the restrictions?

Sorry, I'm new to this whole MP3 player scene... if you couldn't already tell.


either or like itunes just add existing or new bought music to library and sync it up as long as its compatible format/codec. It doubles as hd movie screen by providing HD playback via a hdmi cable which isnt included lol. but screen on it itself has good quality viewing anyway for 480x272.

As for article it has a 3.3" screen not 3.6" ?

I wish they port the same dam OS to the Phones.. and call it the Zune OS.. rather than microsoft Windows Mobile.. which is so outdated.. and I think that would help market their image a bit better to..

im definitely getting one!!

Well, they have Windows Mobile 6.5 coming out shortly, and then Windows Mobile 7 in the works as well. They plan for these two releases to revive their mobile image. I for one am thrilled to see Microsoft taking interest in Windows Mobile again. It was forgotten for quite a while (And 6 isn't really meant for touch screen devices at all).

M_Lyons10 said,
Well, they have Windows Mobile 6.5 coming out shortly, and then Windows Mobile 7 in the works as well. They plan for these two releases to revive their mobile image. I for one am thrilled to see Microsoft taking interest in Windows Mobile again. It was forgotten for quite a while (And 6 isn't really meant for touch screen devices at all).

They seem to do this quite a bit, they forget about IE and we were stuck with ie6 for years, they forget about Mobile, they forgot about windows live.

All of a sudden I'm regretting getting an iPod Touch... I like the Zune's subscription service, so now I'm at a cross-roads in what to do. At the moment I'm thinking to just stick with the iPod Touch, because I don't know how Microsoft will compete against Apple's App Store feature.

The touch has a lot of advantages, like the huge app store. Wait for the zune to come out, if it actually does what is advertised, the zune app store might pickup as well. You can always sell your ipod. They is a great after market for all Apple gear, because people know it is built to last.

cakesy said,
The touch has a lot of advantages, like the huge app store. Wait for the zune to come out, if it actually does what is advertised, the zune app store might pickup as well. You can always sell your ipod. They is a great after market for all Apple gear, because people know it is built to last.

that sounds like an ad! but yeah, that's pretty much what's happening. I don't see the Zune catching on unless they go for super low prices. Most tech people are still hurting from play for sure and non tech also have that in mind since still a lot of mp3 players mention that obsolete stuff. The ipod got a competition free market for at least 6 to 7 years.

It is called marketting, Microsoft wants "news" sites to run stories of fantasy 120GB for $279 to make people think they are getting something better than the ipod touch...bigger is better on the surface at least.

What are you talking about? Of course it is better to have larger storage space. I don't think that there's going to be 120GB version available, but I would much rather get that than overpriced 8GB iPod Touch on which I cannot even fit my entire music library (not to mention videos and photos).

If this thing could play Xvid and work with Napster-to-go then I will get it. If it only works with Zune unilimited music plan then I will pass because it lacks a lot of music compared to Napster.

I think you can use the older zunes on napster to go, you just have to sync through windows media payer to get the music on the player.

I know this is a rapid Microsoft fanboi site, but this thing has fail written all over it, just like the original Zune. Why get this rather than an iPod Touch, which is out today, has a ton of 3rd party apps and an OS second to none in the mobile space?

I never could figure out why Microsoft does not put their name on the Zune. Anyone have an idea?

pc_tool said,
I know this is a rapid Microsoft fanboi site, but this thing has fail written all over it, just like the original Zune. Why get this rather than an iPod Touch, which is out today, has a ton of 3rd party apps and an OS second to none in the mobile space?

I never could figure out why Microsoft does not put their name on the Zune. Anyone have an idea?


Itunes sucks and media playback is seriously gimped on Apple products. I don't even think it has a radio tuner.

pc_tool said,
I never could figure out why Microsoft does not put their name on the Zune. Anyone have an idea?
Same reason that it's not on the Xbox. They're products of a division of the company that is diametrically opposed to the stodgy business-productivity software stereotype that the brand name "Microsoft" had developed. Things have changed a lot in the last five or so years, and a lot of people feel like E&D helped spearhead that change.

"OS second to none in the mobile space" is a significant value judgement. This device will be inter operable with the 360 and they will share the same video store at the least. If you own one, there are good reasons to want to own the other. The level of integration will be significantly greater than what the iPod offers when plugged into a 360.

Hi, I'm an Apple fan, I think competition is a waste of time for competitors. Stop competing with Apple! Stop it stop it stop it!

pc_tool said,
I know this is a rapid Microsoft fanboi site, but this thing has fail written all over it, just like the original Zune. Why get this rather than an iPod Touch, which is out today, has a ton of 3rd party apps and an OS second to none in the mobile space?

I never could figure out why Microsoft does not put their name on the Zune. Anyone have an idea?


I hate to be the one to shatter the bubble of your reality...but have you ever stopped to consider that maybe...just maybe...there are people out there that don't like iPods? That'd don't like iTunes? That don't care about a 'ton' of (mostly worthless) 3rd party apps? That might want a media player that actually excels at...being a media player, and has features, picture and sound quality that are actually worth a damn?

Crazy, I know.

I personally own and enjoy an original Zune 30, and would not think of trading it in for an iPod for 2 reasons - the Zune software is better than iTunes, and Zune Pass is 1000 times better than iTunes store.

I work with someone that has an iPhone and a Zune 80, and he says he always pulls out the Zune for music because of the Zune software, and prefers the UI of the Zune device for navigating through music

iTunes performance is a major drawback for me and that is one of the main reasons that I'll look hard at the Zune HD instead of a comparable Apple device for my next media player.

This is not a 'rabid' Microsoft fanboi site. There's a section for Apple and Linux fans too. Many people will just want a media player that's great at being a media player, don't like iTunes, and I wouldn't say the OS on the iPod Touch is that great.

pc_tool said,
I know this is a rapid Microsoft fanboi site, but this thing has fail written all over it, just like the original Zune. Why get this rather than an iPod Touch, which is out today, has a ton of 3rd party apps and an OS second to none in the mobile space?

So true, although it does look like a nice device. Competition is a good thing, and I look forward to the improvement Apple will make with the ipod touch in September. The fact is that Microsoft has all this money, and they need to do something with it. They can give it back to investors, or they can seek out new revenue streams. That is why we have the xbox, zune, bing, Microsoft hardware, Office, etc..

pc_tool said,
I never could figure out why Microsoft does not put their name on the Zune. Anyone have an idea?

Because people don't associate Microsoft with fun, they associate them with there crappy computer at work that crashes all the time. People don't want to buy an ipod that crashes, and I have heard the first gen zunes had this problem. I think the newer ones are better, still waiting to see the new zune hds.

lordcanti86 said,
PLEEEEEASE tell me the Zune 4.0 software is being released alongside the Zune HD


Well it has to be because the current software can't sync with Zune HD :P

Earlier this year, we told the world what the Zune HD was, how it was going to be built, and shocked the world with news of an international launch.

Don't you mean to write that you read the news from some other secondary source of news, reworded things, and then posted it here?

Shadrack said,
Don't you mean to write that you read the news from some other secondary source of news, reworded things, and then posted it here?


No because we broke the news on all three occasions, with Engadget getting the scoop on the images.

I see. I think its great that you were able to get the inside scoop before any other news site did. Sorry, I thought that this was like 90% of the news posted on Neowin where the "inside scoop" was another news site (figure made up). Its hard to tell what-is-what, as it all looks the same now.

Nate Archibald said,
Ugh, I REALLY want one of these!
I hope they're compatible with my car, and I hope Microsoft will release Zune software for OS X.

Your car runs OS X?

Seriously...my zune 8gb is so being sold. I want one of these. Plus with the new zune software this is going to rock.

Damn, I never appreciated how gorgeous that screen looks. I mean in that low level lighting, it sticks out as clear as anything!
I want one of these bad boys so much.

donBoomy said,
no sir, it's using flash. at least thats what the guy in the video told me (i was there)

There's absolutely no way that this device's UI is powered by flash.

MioTheGreat said,
There's absolutely no way that this device's UI is powered by flash.

somebody said "is this flash?" and the guy from the Zune team said "Yes". it was loud in there so he couldve misinterpreted what he said or responded to something else. either way, i'm just telling you what i heard.

MioTheGreat said,
There's absolutely no way that this device's UI is powered by flash.

Really, because the current Zune desktop software requires Flash.

The Zune software only needs flash for the webpages of the marketplace. The software itself is not flash-powered (maybe WPF...). I don't think that you can build a mobile device UI just with flash/silverlight. You have to use OpenGL ES/DirectX (like said above).

Microsoft would never use Flash for this...they would use their proprietary Silverlight which would mean no OpenGL as that competes with their proprietary DirectX technology embeded in their proprietary Silverlight tech.

bob_c_b said,
Really, because the current Zune desktop software requires Flash.


The Zune Cards Large and Small use Flash however the software uses the Microsoft Iris Framework (http://www.istartedsomething.com/20071116/microsoft-iris-uix-framework-zune/) which is similar to WPF.

XerXis said,
almost certainly written in c/c++

Really, don't the even use their own product, C# and .Net?? I new that inside Microsoft they wouldn't touch sourcesafe, but to not even use their own programming language.

cakesy said,
Really, don't the even use their own product, C# and .Net?? I new that inside Microsoft they wouldn't touch sourcesafe, but to not even use their own programming language.


Probably because you generally tend to get faster results writting in c/c ++, even if it is more work to do so.

And yeah, I'm guessing he meant flash as in flash storage, not flash ui.

it does look nice. though I hope you can alter the videos directory into shows than just one folder. Also I don't really see the point of showing off you can support HD video, will it really be that noticeable (if at all) on such a small screen??

I hope that social button on the Zune's desktop isn't limited to Windows Live spaces or some crappy microsoft online attempt though, that's how they always seem to mess up - by really restricting you to Windows/Microsoft services, I'd bet(/hope) the guys who are in charge of the Zune aren't that dumb/tied to the windows live dept