Microsoft Unveils the Zune HD

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Microsoft has unveiled the Zune HD, its next generation of portable media player, as well as plans to extend its video service to Xbox Live in the fall.

The Zune HD includes a built-in HD Radio receiver, offering listeners access to higher-quality sound than conventional radio and additional information like song and artist data without the need for a monthly service subscription, as well an an HD-compatible output that will let users play supported high-definition video files in 720p to an HDTV through an optional HDMI docking station. The device is Wifi-enabled and comes with a full-screen internet browser optimized for “multitouch functionality” on the Zune’s bright, 480×272 widescreen OLED touchscreen display.

Zune is also being integrated with Microsoft’s Xbox Live Video Marketplace, giving users full access to the service’s “exciting catalog of TV and film.” The company has promised that at the upcoming E3, “attendees will see firsthand how Zune integrates into Xbox Live to create a game-changing entertainment experience.”

“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 Microsoft’s Enrique Rodriguez. “This news marks a turning point for Zune as it brings cross-platform experiences and premium video content to living rooms around the world.”

The Zune HD will also feature goodies like a built-in accelerometer and a touch-screen QWERTY keyboard, but specifics on things like storage capacity, CPU and pricing will have to wait until Microsoft’s E3 announcement. Until then, more information – although not much more – and a sign-up link for news updates are available at Microsoft’s new Zune HD website.

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