Microsoft has had an uphill battle with its Zune, trying to crack into a market dominated by the Apple iPod, which set the standard for portable digital music players. The original Zune faced performance problems, anti-Microsoft backlash and a host of other hurdles, but Microsoft is confident the Zune HD has enough bells and whistles to break the curse.
As Microsoft readies to unleash the Zune HD on the portable music and video-hungry masses, here are five reasons we think the Microsoft Zune HD will be the first true rival to the Apple iPod.
1. The name says it all: The Microsoft Zune HD will offer access to high-definition content. The 16-GB model will offer access to five hours of high-definition video and 22 hours of standard video. The 32-GB model doubles that capacity, offering 10 hours worth of HD video storage. Additionally, the Zune supports HD video playback through a premium HDMI A/V docking station so video can be played directly on an HDTV in 720p resolution. Microsoft says that's "better-than-DVD-quality video."
2. It has a touch-screen:: Yes, the iPod touch is the pioneer of touch-screen music players, but adding a touch-screen to the Zune HD ups Microsoft's chances to perform in the portable music player market. The OLED touch screen is 3.3 inches with 16:9 widescreen format display with 480-x-272 pixel resolution.
3. The price is right: The Microsoft Zune HD starts at $219.99 for the 16-GB model, while its bulkier 32-GB cousin runs $289.99. Not bad for a touch-screen music player, considering Apple's iPod touch starts at $229 for the 8-GB model, $299 for the 16-GB model and $399 for the 32-GB model.
4. Microsoft Zune HD packs a processing punch: The Zune HD will be powered by Nvidia's low-power Tegra System-on-Chip. Tegra features multiprocessor architecture, with each processor unit architected for specific tasks, including a CPU for running HTML and Java, an HD video processor for streaming HD video playback and a graphics processor, all integrated in a low-power-consumption computer-on-a-chip.
5. It's more than just music and HD video: Yes, the Microsoft Zune HD can hold up to five hours of high-definition video, 22 hours of standard-definition video, 4,000 songs or 25,000 pictures in the 16-GB model and 10 hours of high-def video, or 48 hours of standard-definition video, 8,000 songs or 25,000 pictures in the 32-GB model, but the compact device packs in a host of other features as well. The Microsoft Zune HD also ties in an HD Radio receiver, built-in Wi-Fi and a Web browser.
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