That's right folks, the Zune HD is real, and it's coming this Fall. Microsoft officially announced the next iteration in their Zune line today, making it less of a tripped out pipe dream, and more of a totally tubular reality. The specs, which look exactly like that leak we saw, go like this: 3.3-inch, 480 x 272 OLED capacitive touchscreen display, built-in HD Radio receiver, HD output (utilizing a new dock -- not on-board), and... not much more right now. Microsoft is doing away with the famed squircle in favor a full multitouch device, and they seemed to indicate that some new touch-friendly apps and games would be headed our way, though they were fairly mum when it came to details. The device will boast an IE-based, customized browser, but little else was said in the way of software.
Details are also scarce concerning storage capacities, CPU performance, and other crucial numbers, but it seems like they've got more in store come E3... and that's the next big piece of news. Zune integration is coming to the Xbox and Xbox Live, as the Zune marketplace will step in to replace the current Live video resources, expanding the library and offering all kinds of new perks, like Zune's first foray into international waters. According to the company, at E3 "attendees will see first-hand how Zune integrates into Xbox LIVE creating a game-changing entertainment experience" -- we're not entirely sure what the means right now, but it sounds sweet. Try to contain your excitement.
Update: Microsoft's just sent out a press release (after the break) and launched an official Zune HD page.
Update 2: We just got sent a picture of black Zune HD, now after the break, which we're told Microsoft is giving out to selected "Zune MVP" sites such as Inside the Circle and ZuneTracks. See it for yourself after the break.
Microsoft Announces the Expansion of the Zune Entertainment Service to New Platform and Markets; Confirms New Zune HD Portable Media Player
Premium Zune digital entertainment service to be available internationally on Xbox LIVE.
REDMOND, Wash. - May 26, 2009 - Microsoft Corp. today announced the evolution of Zune, the company's end-to-end music and entertainment service, to a new platform and new markets. Zune will extend its video service to Xbox LIVE internationally this fall. This marks an important development in the Zune strategy and brings the Zune brand to more than 17 million international Xbox LIVE subscribers. In addition, Microsoft confirmed the next generation of the Zune portable media player, Zune HD. Available in the U.S. this fall, Zune HD is the first portable media player that combines a built-in HD Radio receiver, high-definition (HD) video output capabilities, organic light-emitting diode (OLED) touch screen, Wi-Fi and an Internet browser.
"The Zune music player is an integral part of the overall Zune experience, and we're proud to be growing and extending our offering beyond the device," said Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president of the Microsoft TV, Video and Music Business Group. "Delivering on Microsoft's connected entertainment vision, this news marks a turning point for Zune as it brings cross-platform experiences and premium video content to living rooms around the world."
Zune Service Expands to New Platform
Zune will be a premium partner in the Xbox LIVE Video Marketplace, bringing an exciting catalog of TV and film to the platform. Zune will occupy the first slot within the Xbox user interface in the Xbox LIVE Video Marketplace, exposing the Zune brand experience to millions of new consumers for the first time. At the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) next week, attendees will see firsthand how Zune integrates into Xbox LIVE to create a game-changing entertainment experience.
Introducing Zune HD
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 (480x272 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.
Zune is Microsoft's music and entertainment brand that provides an integrated digital entertainment experience. The Zune platform includes a line of portable digital media players, elegant software, the Zune Marketplace online store, Zune Pass music subscription service, and the Zune Social online music community, created to help people discover more music. Zune is part of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division and supports the company's software-based services vision to help drive innovation in the digital entertainment space. More information can be found online at http://www.zune.net/en-us/press.
About Xbox LIVE
Xbox LIVE connects more than 17 million members across 26 countries to each other and the entertainment they love. Home of more content from one remote than can be found from any device connected to the television, Xbox LIVE is also a unified online social network bringing friends together, no matter where they are - in the living room or across the world. More information and Xbox LIVE membership can be found online at http://www.xbox.com/en-us/live.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
* Supported 720p HD video files play on the device, downscaled to fit the screen at 480 x 272 - not HD resolution. Zune HD and AV Dock, and an HDTV (all sold separately) are required to view video at HD resolution.
HD Radio™ and the HD Radio logo are proprietary trademarks of iBiquity Digital Corp.