News came out last night that Microsoft (s MSFT) will release a new Zune HD this fall that will feature a touchscreen, HD radio, HD video output, and integration with the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. It’s the latest salvo the Redmond giant is firing directly at Apple (s AAPL), but will it be enough to push the Zune more into mainstream as something other than the butt end of a joke?
Here’s a quick breakdown of the new features that will be found in the Zune HD:
- Built-in HD radio receiver
- OLED touchscreen with 16:9 widescreen format
- HDMI output for watching HD movies on a big screen TV in 720p (requires a separate dock)
- Wi-Fi enabled for instant streaming to the device, and Internet browsing
Additionally, the Zune brand is going to get in front of a bunch of new eyeballs as the Zune entertainment service will be a premium partner in the Xbox LIVE Marketplace, which reaches more than 17 million subscribers internationally.
You have to give the mighty Microsoft an “A” for effort. Despite the towering lead Apple has with its iPod franchise, Microsoft is sticking with the Zune. We’ll admit that the HD output is a nice touch and is a cool intermediate step for sharing video until everyone is downloading or streaming movies directly to their TVs.
But Apple has its App Store, which keeps adding thousands of cool games and utilities to the iPod Touch. And Apple still has the “cool” factor, something still lacking in Redmond, seeing how boring the Zune HD looks.
At least Microsoft’s given me an excuse to post this Zune bit from the show Chuck; it’s one of the best tech jokes to ever appear on TV.