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Handhelds Microsoft Technology

Zune HD Unveiled, Set For Fall Release 410

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-sufficiently-small-values-of-h dept.
Several readers have written to mention that Microsoft has confirmed and unveiled the Zune HD. It has a "3.3-inch, 480 x 272 OLED capacitive touchscreen display, built-in HD Radio receiver, HD output," and it makes use of multi-touch input. More details will be forthcoming at E3, including how the device interacts with Xbox Live. Reader johnjaydk notes a PCWorld article that asks whether the Zune HD will be capable of competing with the iPod Touch. Quoting: "... the real competition between the Zune HD and the iPod Touch will come down to software. The new Zune will be based on a custom version of Windows CE, while the iPod Touch runs on the already popular iPhone platform, for which thousands of applications are available."
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Zune HD Unveiled, Set For Fall Release

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  • by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @01:22PM (#28112009)
    Aw, come on now. There are a few of us young people who actually prefer the Zune to the iPod. I happen to be one of them. I'll take the evil Microsoft over the snobby Apple anyday.
  • by dyingtolive (1393037) <brad.arnett@notf ... g ['hir' in gap]> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @01:29PM (#28112133)
    Really, in preparation for the coming flame war, I feel it necessary to point out that you can use visual studio to compile and run Zune games without fear of the heavy hand of Microsoft crashing down upon you and your work. I dislike Microsoft, but free update to run homebrew software that doesn't have to have a corporate blessing? I still have Windows on one box for games anyway though (not a WoW/Quake junkie), so I guess things might be different for me.
    Until that Linux company I keep hearing about comes out with MP3 players, then this is the way to go for me. :)
  • Looks Like a Duck (Score:4, Interesting)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @01:32PM (#28112201)
    If it looks like an iPod Touch and acts like an iPod Touch but comes from Microsoft, it ain't an iPod Touch.

    It must suck to be an engineer at Microsoft. Ignoring the phat paycheck, it must really suck to work for a company that has largely given up on any semblance of innovation and is simply following the lead of other companies. I would imagine that many of their best and brightest are begging to explore some very cool ideas but are being held back by Microsoft's corporate culture... I feel for them...

    Actually, they get paid magnitudes more than I do so I don't feel too bad for them...
  • Re:OLED screen? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by njen (859685) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @01:35PM (#28112237)
    I have an S9, and I am very impressed with it. The AMOLED screen is simply amazing, this coming from a CG graphics industry vet. Colour reproduction is very important to me, and it does not disappoint. Unless the Zune is priced better than the S9, or the Samsung equivalent (was it called the P3?), then it's not going to do that well, especially knowing that by that time, Cowon and Samsung (not to mention everyone else) will have updated models of their products (possibly even second generation level) by the time Microsoft get's in with this. Pass.
  • by plague3106 (71849) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @01:37PM (#28112259)

    Huh... if missing the boat is making something that works really well, and has more features, I guess they did. My zune works flawlessly, has a better screen, wireless sync, and the ability to tune radio stations. Contrast with my wifes 2g ipod nano, which locks up randomly, repeats the same song endlessly, skips the the next song randomly, and lets not forget that abomination of software call iTunes, and the recommended fix from the apple store? "Buy a new 3G ipod!!" Which was the same answer they gave to EVERYONE that came in with a problem with apple hardware. Bleack.

  • by Mike Buddha (10734) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @01:43PM (#28112331)

    I'd have to say that their target demographic is probably everyone who bought an Xbox 360. The one piece of MS's gaming strategy that's been noticably lacking is the handheld. Now, it appears they're getting serious about it. I had high hopes for Zune integration when the 360 came out, and it just never happened. Then, XNA came out and it looked like things were going to happen in that space again, and then nothing. Maybe the old axiom about MS getting it right on the third shot is going to hold true, yet again?

  • by WankersRevenge (452399) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @01:47PM (#28112395)
    meh ... bad analogy. I would say Sony really earns the props for the 360 coming in second place. The fact that MS is not in third place considering the fact it was cause of the largest consumer electronics fuckup in US history showed just how bad Sony screwed the pooch. Especially coming off the runaway success of the playstation 2. If Sony wasn't so incompetent, i would imagine that Microsoft would be probably be in a distant third right now with plans on escaping the market.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @01:58PM (#28112533)
    The point of an MP3 player is to listen to the music you want, when you want to. You don't get that from broadcast radio. Streaming services like Pandora come close. Most radio stations are now streamed on the 'net... with WiFi and 3G connectivity, what the hell do you need an AM/FM receiver for??? Yes, the iTouch doesn't do 3G, but people buy an iTouch for games, not for listening to music.
  • by rzekson (990139) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @01:59PM (#28112551)
    From this never-ending iphon/ipod/zune buzz, one could get the impression that the world has only two cutting edge devices, ipod/iphone and zune. it just so happens that the fantastic features they promise to come have all been around for some time now. I just find it genuinely hard to understand why the free software community drools over the iphones, and fails to notice the availability of platforms that are superior and basically made for developers (not to mention there are a number of better devices out there). FYI, for well over a year I have owned a Windows Mobile device (IPAQ 210) with a fantastic 640x480 touch screen that beats all the ipods, zunes and other such iphones by a large margin in terms of resolution and comfort. it cost me $400, about as much as any of the other toys. It eats 32 GB memory in flash cards (allegedly even more, have not checked). Compact flash and SD, replaceable at anytime, including while the device is on. It has good-quality 802.11 radio (no flakey operation), wiht no restrictions, I can open sockets, send multicast, consume web services. It has bluetooth. It lasts for days without charging. And most importantly, it takes the latest compact editions of the .NET framework, allowing me to deploy any code I feel like to deploy on it at a press of a button in Visual Studio, bypassing the need to unlock it, use app stores or other such bizarre nonsense. I like the idea of being able to program my devices, and I use that feature constantly. And yes, it does play hd mp4 videos from youtube very smoothly. Doesn't come with a phone. And what would I need a phone for?! To pay the $100+ in monthly charges for a data plan? I pass by wifi access points so often, I don't need to think about it much. Most of the time, I get my email while carrying the device in my pocket. It boots in about a second. It does not come with GPS. Frankly, I wouldn't have noticed. Most of the time, I know where I am, and when I travel, I prefer to use a professional device such as tom tom that was made for thus purpose and has been developed and improved for a long time. And no, I don't work for hewlett-packard.
  • by euxneks (516538) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @02:27PM (#28112979)
    I call bullshit. I've tried to do just this and I cannot upload a compiled program to my ipod touch without getting some dinky ass digital cert from Apple.

    You _can_ however, run the application in an emulator.
  • by Andy_R (114137) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @02:30PM (#28113029) Homepage Journal

    Will they replace the HD Radio with DAB radio for Britain and the other parts of Europe that use DAB?

  • Apps (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @02:46PM (#28113265)
    Does the custom version of Windows CE allow users to run the apps of their choice? If so, this seems OBVIOUSLY better than any of Apple's products. The 'thousands' of programs in the Apple App Store will be surpassed in six months, if the new Zune is not locked down like an Apple product.

    The Zune always had really good hardware. It had some silly restrictions (like on WiFi), and terrible marketing. Compare that to the iPod/iPhone, which is good hardware, silly restrictions, and great marketing...
  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@@@slashdot...firenzee...com> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @03:02PM (#28113493) Homepage

    Actually, you can use the unofficial (jailbroken) iphone sdk on non mac systems, infact you can even install gcc on the iphone itself and compile apps natively.
    Can you develop zune software without having windows? I would say the iphone is one step up in this regard.

  • by Seq (653613) <`ac.niwrisirhc' `ta' `todhsals'> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @03:21PM (#28113737)

    I'll agree with you. I never really understood why the iPod became the gold-standard for music devices.

    My iRiver ihp-120 is still going strong. It has FM radio support as well, and this is going back to late 2003. The screen is really the only complaint one could have compared to a "modern" device.

    I've since installed rockbox and upgraded the hard disk. I don't see very many devices these days that are competitive with this one.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @03:43PM (#28114001)

    So the whole reason that Windows Mobile has problems is because application developers are porting their desktop applications?

    Exactly right. They suck to use on mobile platforms and so fewer people buy and use them, except for a handful of productivity stuff like Goodmail. But you just don't see the kind of casual exploration of apps on the scale iPhone users engage in.

    Some people do tailor the experience more to a mobile user but there's only so much you can do with the frameworks that are there... and the frameworks, they are old.

  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:03PM (#28114155)

    I've never understood this business strategy. I don't see any intrinsic reason why Microsoft should seek to enter every possible technology market and leverage its enormous financial power and resources to do so.

    They know Zune is a failed business venture. As a product, the Zune is unable to compete with the iPod on any meaningful level. And Microsoft management knows this. Yet they persist, not out of some altruistic desire to encourage competition, but because the executives (read: Ballmer) have too much hubris to concede that Apple has done something remarkable. They have succeeded in revolutionizing the portable media device. And with the iPhone, Apple has created nothing less than an integrated portable computing/communications/multimedia solution that is as stylish as it is easy to use. Is it perfect? Hardly. Was it the first to use each of its component technologies? No. But it is indisputable that it broke new ground by combining all these features into a single, easy-to-use device. And the only ones who still refuse to admit this are those who are aligned with Ballmer's distorted view of reality.

    I have a healthy appreciation for the competition--Google (Android), RIM (Blackberry), Palm (Pre), Nokia (N9x), and yes, even Microsoft (Zune/Windows Mobile). It's important that these guys are around to keep Apple on its toes. But let's not fool ourselves into believing that these are the good guys for fostering that competition. If they were truly good, they would have recognized the importance of innovating beyond what they see in Apple's offerings, rather than simply trying to make a comparable product. Where was their vision before Apple dominated the field? No, they were too busy being complacent. We saw tiny, incremental changes in the mobile device market for years until the iPhone blew everyone away. The same was true of the pre-iPod MP3 market. Apple lit a fire under their collective asses and now hardware manufacturers are going nuts trying to make the next "iPod/iPhone/iWhatever" killer.

    The Zune will never be successful as long as it is deprived of a true vision. It isn't enough to mimic another device or its success. That's what Microsoft does not understand. They never have understood what makes a product work. The ubiquity of their bread-and-butter Windows has brought them enormous financial success and market share, but with that it has brought laziness and sloppy management. They can afford to push out half-assed products. Windows will still be there to keep the money coming in. They don't have to be hungry, visionary, or risk-taking, like Apple has had to be for decades. They've made some real blunders (G4 cube, 20th Anniversary Mac, the Lisa, Mac OS licensing, Centris/Quadra/Performa bloated product line,... I could go on but I think you get the point). But they have had enormous successes as well. Microsoft could make Zune amazing. Any company could, given that much money and talent. But that's not what they really want. They don't want to make something better than an iPhone or an iPod. They want to make something just good enough superficially, with as little attention to detail as possible, just so they can say they have some market penetration.

    Microsoft has not wanted to make a better 'something' for DECADES. When a company stops caring about providing the best possible user experience, I stop caring about that company's products.

  • by plague3106 (71849) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:08PM (#28114225)

    Well, then apparently everyone else making MP3 players long before Apple produced anything "missed the boat" too.

    Ironically, this makes the iPod like Windows and the Zune like Linux in the handheld music player market.

    Hmm... I don't think so. Apple is popular because they are the fad thing to have. Eventually (hopefully) the fad will die out. Any other product with as many failures are iPods would have been abandoned long ago, but my wife knows many people who are on their 3rd or 4th iPod, not because they wanted a new one, but because the previous one broke.

  • by himitsu (634571) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:33PM (#28114513)
    I bought a Zune (brown one) during the big fire sale last year for around $80. The hardware is top-notch; I'd even say that it sounds better than my iPod, and I'm no audiophile. The battery life was passable and 30GB wasn't anything to sneeze at.

    Problem was, I had to use their god-awful sync software to get the thing working. That meant going through WGA, all the .NET updates, interminable loading screens and restarts for each new update.

    Once I had the device out in the wild it worked fine but I was always reluctant to put more music on it because it was such a chore. When I realized that I was maintaining a Windows box just to use the Zune and a few programs (like uTorrent), I switched to Mint and haven't looked back.

    Now the thing just languishes along with all the other stuff that isn't 'essential' in my daily routine.

    I use a current gen iPod nano (8GB) now and it works like a charm, so-so audio quality and all. I use gPodder to sync podcasts and GTKPod to sync my music. MP3 players are so ubiquitous nowadays I don't see why people are willing to be locked into one company's store or software.

    Of course, it'd be great if Apple explained how to unencrypt their firmware so we could get Rockbox running on it but that's not gonna happen. At least my iPod supports FLAC.
  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:50PM (#28115873) Journal

    Once you get it ($99 developer fee - much cheaper than Visual Studio)

    Visual Studio Express, which is able to create full applications without limitations, is free. Yes, I can choose to pay for a better IDE. I'd rather that than have to pay a whacking $99 fee just for the privilege of development.

    I'm always amazed how ignorant non-Microsoft users are about Microsoft's products and how much disinformation they spew. If you really want to know what you can or cannot do with an Microsoft device or software, you should ask the people who know - experienced Microsoft users. (For the mods who will no doubt interpret this as trolling, but the same statement about Apple as Informative. [slashdot.org])

  • by earnest murderer (888716) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:46PM (#28117183)

    I don't know the technicals regarding DAB, but I do know that the current generation of HD receiver/decoders get really hot and pull a lot of current. Even if Microsoft has significantly improved the technology it's probably still going to be awfully hard on a little battery. I don't believe a 20x improvement in efficiency is likely in any case.
    I suspect they've made compromises to reduce power usage (and antenna size), which when paired with a technology that is problematic to begin with is probably going to mean that it has a much more limited range than typical HD radios, or they'll play games with the availability of the feature (only when plugged in or some such).

    In any case it's a very nice device. It's a real shame HD radio sounds like 90's era Napster downloads. It's an interesting solution to an ongoing problem, but there's only so much you can do with 48kpbs regardless of how good your codec is.

  • by Nitar (261628) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @09:49PM (#28118203)

    I currently use a Zune, after getting hooked on the Zune pass subscription. Sorry... but as far as I'm concerned I don't really care what casing surrounds my hard drive/flash storage media. At the end of the day I just want to listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks. The Zune does all three of these things just fine. The whole "it's cool to have an Apple" thing is lost on me.

    That said, the only thing Zune has going for it is the Zune Pass. I can buy tunes off of iTunes, if I couldn't find the tracks on Zune or Amazon. However, I CAN'T use my Zune pass on my iPod.

    If the Zune pass goes away, I'm not sure how MS can hope to even keep up the pitiful competition that they currently have. (If you can even call it competition)

    HD Zune might be okay, but like I said before, I just want it for Audio. I could care less about all the other stuff.

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