After weeks of leaks and sneak peeks, the Zune HD has an official launch date: Sept. 15. Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) will sell two Zune HD models — 16G black, $219.99; Zune HD 32GB platinum, $289.99 — with HD Radio, touch screen, full web browsing and HD video output. The iPods looked better early on (and some still think they do) but the Zune has been more innovative, including Wi-Fi streaming, syncing and shopping long before the Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) device and now adding HD Radio to a highly portable device. That alone may sell more than a few of the devices.
Advance sales started today at Amazon.com (NSDQ: AMZN), Best Buy (which also will demo the device in some markets Aug. 22-23), Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and Microsoft. On launch date. the Zune originals store will start selling it in more colors with optional customized engraving. The engraved artwork has become a signature touch for the Zune. More detail and online demo here.
I’ve been a Zune owner since the first device launched and now have four in active household use ranging from first gen through the Zune 120. I don’t buy new models just to have the latest but the HD Radio and the ability to use the wireless for web browsing with a touchscreen QWERTY keyboard may do the trick.