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Go Back   Thoughts Media Forums > ZUNE THOUGHTS > Zune Hardware

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  #1  
Old 05-27-2009, 05:50 AM
Jason Dunn
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Default Say Hello to the Zune HD

<p><em>See, I had this plan tonight. I was out at a meeting and was getting home a full 45 minutes before the press embargo on the Zune HD was up, so Zune Thoughts would be one of the first sites to bring you the awesome news about the Zune HD. Then a site in the UK broke their embargo and everyone was allowed to publish the news...and I didn't realize that until I got home and checked my email. So that's why Zune Thoughts is bringing you this news late - hopefully when it come to actual hands-on time with the Zune HD, we'll be able to deliver something unique and special. Without further ado, here is the Zune HD and what I'm allowed to say about it so far (yes, there are a few bits of info that I know but can't share yet).</em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/zt/auto/1243397162.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p>The Zune HD is designed from the ground up to take on the iPod Touch head to head. The hardware design is completely different from previous Zunes - one look at the sleek thinness tells you that. Microsoft wanted to get some information out about the Zune HD, but they're not spilling all the details just yet. Here's what we know for sure. <MORE /></p><p><strong>The Zune Rocks a 3.3 inch OLED Touch Screen:</strong> If you haven't seen an OLED screen in person, it's hard to describe how completely OLED kicks the ass of any other screen on the playground. Think about your mobile phone from ten years ago and the screen it had, now compare that to what you have today. OLED is an even bigger improvement. It's hard to say exactly how good the screen on the Zune HD will look until I see it in person, but I've seen plenty of OLED screens at CES, everything from a cell phone screen to the screen on the OQO, to a small TV, and each and every one has impressed the hell out of me. Amazing contrast, stunning brightness, and life-like in every way. The Zune's 3.3 inch screen should make the screen on the iPod Touch pale in comparison - and the iPod Touch's screen makes the Zune 80/120 screen look bad, so that's no small feat.</p><p>My one concern? The 16:9 aspect ratio screen on the Zune HD is 480 x 272 in resolution. That resolution isn't very high - the iPod Touch has a screen resolution of 480 x 320. That's right - more pixels. The 16:9 aspect ratio gives the Zune HD a 167 PPI (pixels per inch). The iPod Touch has a higher resolution, but also a bigger screen, so it has a PPI of 163 - pretty much indistinguishable from the Zune HD. If you've seen an iPod Touch, text, photos, and videos should look basically as crisp and clear on the Zune HD. Quite a bit better than the 125 PPI of the Zune 80/120, but nowhere near as crisp and clear as the amazing 222 PPI on the Zune 8/16. I would have liked to see Microsoft go past the screen resolution on the iPod Touch, not just match it - but maybe the OLED screen will make up for that. Oh, and the Zune HD has a capacitive touch screen, just like the iPod Touch. Capacitive touch screens tend to be more sensitive to touch and are generally considered to be superior to resistive touch screens (which all touch-based Windows Mobile smartphones currently have).</p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/zt/auto/1243398186.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><strong>The Zune HD Rocks HD Radio:</strong> I know very little about HD Radio, never having heard an HD radio broadcast in my life. You can read all about HD Radio on <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HD_Radio" target="_blank">Wikipedia</a>. My take on it is that it's like having a fax machine: if you have the ability to receive, but no one is sending, it's a pretty worthless technology. It looks like there are a healthy number of radio stations broadcasting HD Radio (you can <a href="http://www.hdradio.com/" target="_blank">check availability here</a>), but whether or not you can find your favourite radio station broadcasting in HD Radio is anyone's guess. HD Radio has the ability to bring metadata along with the broadcast, so you can see who sings the song you're listening to, and potentially tag it for looking up later. Oh, and in case you're wondering (I was), regular FM radio is still supported.</p><p><strong>The Zune HD Outputs HD Video:</strong> As you can guess from the name, the Zune HD is all about high-definition content. On the device, the graphics chipset (which just has to be the Nvidia Tegra chip) will support the playback of 720p video content. That's 1280 x 720 content, scaled to fit on the 3.3 inch screen of the Zune. Super high-quality video anyone? Hell yeah! Should be great. Zero word on formats - we can assume HD WMV support, and the Zune would be insane to drop MPEG4/h.264 support, but who knows...what it really needs is Xvid/Divx support to round out the offering. If Microsoft is positioning this as a video device - and with that screen, you know they are - but they're still lacking a major video codec, it's going to be a huge loss. People won't buy a device that won't play back their content. Xvid and Divx support needs to be there - and MKV support is Microsoft is serious. There will also be a dock that will output the HD video over HDMI. This makes the Zune a fantastic portable media device - rip a few DVDs, load up a few HD TV shows, and bring it with you.</p><p><strong>The Zune HD Smurfs the Interwebs:</strong> Finally, the Zune has a browser. It's based on Internet Explorer, so I'm dubious about how well it will work, but this combined with the built-in WiFi opens up the ability of the Zune HD to use browser-based authentication, which means WiFi in hotel rooms, airports, etc. That's a critical feature that the Zune was missing, and this makes the Zune far more usable in real-world situations. How functionality will the browser be? Will it be the same browser we've seen in Windows Mobile 6.5, which isn't all that impressive? Or will it be something else? Will it support Flash? Embedded videos in formats that the device supports? The Zune HD also has an accelerometer</p><p><strong>There's still a lot we don't know. </strong>CPU? Unknown. Storage capacity? We know it's Flash-based, no a hard drive, but we don't know the capacities. Will they match the iPod at 16 GB and 32 GB, or will they one-up them and offer a 64 GB model? Unknown. We don't know anything about the software on the device - will the video and photo apps have been improved? What about battery life? That's a big question - a big, bright OLED screen and HD video playback puts a big question mark on the battery. And what about price point? Will Microsoft match the iPod Touch, or under-cut it? And you'll notice there's no mention of it being available outside the USA right away - that's right, Microsoft is again being US-centric in their focus at launch time. It looks like Canada is going from having Zune hardware, but no marketplace, to having no new Zune hardware, and still no Zune Marketplace.</p><p>There's more analysis and thoughts from yours truly to come, but I definitely want to hear your opinion. Does the Zune HD look like something you'd want to buy? Yes, no, maybe? If not, why not? And if maybe, what are you waiting to hear confirmed before you want one?</p><p><em>Jason Dunn owns and operates <a href="http://www.thoughtsmedia.com/" target="_blank">Thoughts Media Inc.</a>, a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys <a href="http://photos.jasondunn.com/" target="_blank">photography</a>, mobile devices, <a href="http://www.jasondunn.com/" target="_blank">blogging</a>, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. He really wants to get his hands on the Zune HD.</em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com//ppct/auto/1240336793.usr1.gif" /></p><p><strong>Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the <a href="http://www.thoughtsmedia.com/reviewteam.php" target="_blank">Thoughts Media Review Team</a>! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? <a href="http://www.thoughtsmedia.com/reviewteam.php" target="_blank">Then click here for more information.</a></strong></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com//ppct/auto/1240336793.usr1.gif" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p>
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  #2  
Old 05-27-2009, 07:47 AM
Adam Krebs
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Here's hoping for some international love this time around. Gizmodo seems to think it's so: "Other tidbits: The Zune Marketplace is set to cross oceans, coming to several western European countries and, finally, Canada."

And damn this thing looks cool. If the Tegra stuff is even half as cool as the videos show it to be, I might not know how to react

Also, I think the black back looks a lot better than the grey one. I'll hold out judgment on platinum until I see more shots. Fall can't come soon enough!
 
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  #3  
Old 05-27-2009, 08:16 AM
Stinger
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Please bring this to the UK with a Zune Pass option! I'm fed up of Apple charging for iPod touch software updates.
 
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  #4  
Old 05-27-2009, 11:40 AM
Kacey Green
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I don't mind flash-based, but my 120 is nearly full, maybe a 128 GB ssd option? or if there is anything like that out there, I don't want them to do like the itouch and have the audiophiles stuck with last gen hardware.
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  #5  
Old 05-27-2009, 11:41 AM
Kacey Green
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I just thought of this, WMV HD is pretty chunky you'd need more than the 120s to get a nice comfortable amount of both video and audio in there
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  #6  
Old 05-27-2009, 12:57 PM
SoundMix
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Default Where's the hard drive?

Not interested, unless they have a 120GB model.
 
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  #7  
Old 05-27-2009, 01:28 PM
inteller
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going to Europe only....I see they have figured out a way to wiggle out of providing unicode support.
 
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  #8  
Old 05-27-2009, 01:59 PM
inteller
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what prevents the Zune 30/80/120 from providing 480p out? They allowed the Zune 80 to do 480i out with the Home A/V kit, but the FReescale CPU in these is capable of doing much more. I think if they can do it, they should provide a firmware update to do 480p out if attached to the new dock. It would sell more docks, and give those who cant afford to the ZuneHD to at least get DVD quality on their TV.


"
Smart, Serial and Parallel Panels,
TV out, 2 Simultaneous Displays
800 x 600"

Hell according to the Freescale website it whould be able to do TV out and display on screen at the same time, but I understand showing two different orientations might be difficult.
 
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  #9  
Old 05-27-2009, 02:43 PM
Brothernod
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First and foremost I'm very excited that they are announcing this now as I know a couple people contemplating a PMP purchase this summer that I wanted to steer towards the Zune.

The OLED screen really excites me and might be enough alone to get me to purchase the device. I already have an 80 and an iPhone and was looking for something with a larger screen solely for video watching, but an OLED screen might be awesome enough to sacrifice size for.

The HD radio also excites me, but mostly as a curiosity. I never got good enough signal on my Zune to care with FM, but it's still a very interesting differentiating and bold move which I wholly support.

After that my next thoughts were off the loss of buttons :/ One of my favorite things about my Zune 80 is being able to change songs without pulling it out of a pocket (I can usually click forward or back a track through my jeans even which is convenient to the max). I also mostly use my Zune in the car, and honestly I was always hesitant using my iPhone as a media player in the car since I can't skip tracks and stuff without looking, which feels pretty unsafe. I thought Sony's top buttons were brilliant and was hoping Microsoft might copy that. ::shrug::

I'm curious about the E3 announcement, as it seems like it indicates there will be some serious gaming on this, or heavy 360 integration. Either could be very cool. Selling this as a PSP (though I find it hard to believe a non button device can be considered in the same catagory as a button'd game player) would be a great angle for my friend to get one (the lack of car stereo integration has been what's prevented him from moving over so we can share songs at work).

What I really want to see is a video rental service for the Zune and 360 like the Zune pass. Netflix is cool, but it's all streaming which doesn't do my Zune any good, and the selection is pretty hit or miss. Having a video service where I could get my TV shows on my TV, and on my Zune for when I head out, would be amazing and I think a strong bullet point for the Zune/360/Microsoft ecosystem.


I still have to keep my 80 as I travel a lot and like to have my whole music collection and a season of tv with me at all times, so unfortunately this can't replace my current Zune...... but maybe with some of the news to come it might get purchased anyway to complement it.
 
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  #10  
Old 05-27-2009, 03:52 PM
inteller
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unless Microsoft is just really dumb, I don't think this is the only device. I think a gaming oriented zune will be unveiled at E3. It is simply impossible for Microsoft to take on Apple with one device. They need two twists of the same device, one geared towards music/video and the other geared towards gaming....but both can do the other limitedly.

This device as it is needs to be a 32Gb SSD for $199. A gaming oriented device with 64Gb SSD needs to be $299.

However, if they try to push this one device as gaming/music/everything for $299 they have failed.
 
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