ZuneHD: official at last, but HD it ain't

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The ZuneHD has been acknowledged by Microsoft, and although much of what we reported turns out to have been true (OLED touchscreen, web browser), we were hoping for a little more resolution. A 480×272 screen on a device branded “HD” is a bit misleading. I suppose the HD is for the HD radio receiver inside, but honestly, that’s not much of a killer app, though it’ll be nice for radio fans. I’ll also be happy to use a touchscreen on the Zune OS, which seems well-made for it, but I confess disappointment at what should have been a breakthrough device.

Still, the HDMI out will be nice for sure, so using this thing as a sort of emergency HTPC will be sweet if I get the chance. Here’s the skinny, straight from the press release:

Zune HD is the next iteration of the Zune device family and brings a new level of listening and viewing experiences to the portable media player category.

* Zune HD comes with a built-in HD Radio receiver so users can listen to higher-quality sound than traditional radio on the go. Users also will have access to the additional song and artist data broadcast by HD Radio stations as well as additional channels from their favorite stations multicasting in HD. If you don’t like the song playing on your station’s HD channel, switch to its HD2 or HD3 channels for additional programming.
* The bright OLED touch screen interface allows users to flip through music, movies and other content with ease, and the 16:9 widescreen format display (480×272 resolution) offers a premium viewing experience on the go.
* The HD-compatible output lets Zune HD customers playback supported HD video files from the device through a premium high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) audiovisual docking station (sold separately) direct to an HD TV in 720p.*
* Zune HD will include a full-screen Internet browser optimized for multitouch functionality.
* Zune HD is Wi-Fi enabled, allowing for instant streaming to the device from the more than 5 million-track Zune music store.

In the category of not exactly what we thought, we’ve got Xbox Live integration for Zune Marketplace videos, which will be excellent. I’d rather keep my stuff there than trapped in my Zune app.

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