New Microsoft HD Zune Features HD Radio, High Def Video, Wifi and Touch Screen

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Microsoft has announced the new HD Zune, which features HD video (along the lines of high definition TV (HDTV)), as well as HD radio. In the portable MP3 player wars, this leapfrogs the Zune ahead of the iPod Touch, with the Microsoft Zune HD being the first to market with HD video and the first to market with one of the first portable HD radio receivers anywhere.

And, oh yes, it also includes a touch screen, wifi, and web browsing.

HD radio, which is the commercial name for digital radio (and not a technical term), purports to offer a radio experience superior to traditional radio, including FM radio clarity with near-CD quality sound, AM radio with a clarity approximating traditional FM quality, and freedom from the background noise (snap, crackle and pop) of traditional radio. HD radio also offers other perks of digital radio, such as transmitting the name of the song and the artist along with the music, and even being able to tag a song, as you’re listening to it, so that you can later purchase it online.


Many otherwise traditional radio stations now offer HD radio broadcast as well, so that unlike with Internet radio, with an HD radio receiver you still can listen to all of your regular and favourite radio stations.

Similarly, high definition television (HDTV) is a digital video technology, offering a higher-resolution video experience than traditional, analog video signals. While very different from 3D video technology, HDTV has been compared to being somewhere between traditional 2-dimensional analog video, and 3D video. The high definition, high resolution experience gives more depth and richer texture to the video images, and a “not quite 3D but definitely no longer quite 2D” experience.

In addition to the high definition screen and video technology onboard with the Zune HD, there is an HD output on the separate Zune HD dock, so that you can play your HD videos from your Zune on any HDTV-compatible screen.

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With its touch screen, wifi, web browsing capabilities, and high definition goodness, the Microsoft Zune HD is being considered by many to be real competition for the iPod Touch.

Indeed, Microsoft openly admits that they have the Touch in their sights. According to Chris Stephenson, general manager of global marketing for Microsoft Zune, “This device is created to go head to head with the iPod Touch,” adding that “It’s really one of the first portable HD radio receivers out there.”

The Zune HD is due on the US market in the fall.

 
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