Good news for Zune fans. CNET spent a little time with the upcoming Zune HD and came away mighty impressed. Big points were awarded for the 3.3-inch screen, 720p video playback, audio quality, music playback features, and — gasp! — a great web browser?
“Speaking of Wi-Fi, the Zune’s new Web browser smokes. Not since first using the iPhone have I been this impressed with a mobile web browser. There’s no branding on the browser, but I was told it was cooked up by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team (makes sense). Page load was snappy, and pinching and reorienting pages work just like the iPhone and iPod Touch. You also get a fast on-screen keyboard with a nice little magnifier effect with each keystroke. The only bad news on the browser is that there’s no support for Flash audio and video content. So Pandora and YouTube are out, but I was able to get onto Facebook and Twitter.”
The actual music playback seems pretty cool as well, especially for anyone who likes a little substance to go along with whichever band is being played:
“The Zune’s coolest music trick, though, is that it automatically pulls in a gallery of band photos, biographical info, and similar artist recommendations for any currently playing song–regardless of whether the track is from Zune Marketplace or your friend’s hard drive or torrents. It’s feels a little more like digging through Last.fm now, instead of just a straight-up music directory. If the Zune’s connected up to Wi-Fi, listings of related artists will link though to the mobile version of Zune Marketplace, where tracks can be streamed and purchased directly.”
Another cool feature that people may appreciate is that video and audio content purchased via the Xbox 360 will show up in your recent purchases history on the Zune HD and can then be downloaded to the device itself.
The Zune HD will be available sometime this fall. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet.