On 24th August 2009, Microsoft anounced the touch screen version of the Zune portable media player which was announced on 26th May, this year was ready for launch and has been christened Zune HD.According to a report on Cnet, Microsoft will launch Zune HD’s sales campaign on 15th September at a price point of USD219 for 16GB and USD289 for 32G in 2 color options of black and platinum. Amongst others, Zune HD will offer several features that are not found on the iPod Touch, including an OLED display, HD radio, and high-definition video playback (using an optional dock accessory). Other new fetures will also feature Internet Explorer Web browser to work hand in hand with other Wi-Fi features (song sharing, Channel streaming, and Zune Marketplace browsing).Zune HD’s browser is optimized for the touch screen with an onscreen keyboard, but there’s no word on whether it will be capable of streaming Flash media (used by sites such as YouTube and Pandora), a capability that is currently lacking in the Safari browser for the iPhone and iPod Touch.Another interesting feature of the Zune HD will be it’s ability to integrate an HD radio tuner which can also transmit artist and song data, very useful for it’s existing FM radio song-tagging and download feature.Other regular features like a photo viewer, games, podcast management, and Zune Pass music subscription integration. Another significant improvement compared to Zune’s previous models will be it’s battery life. Microsoft said that it can have 33 hours of music playback and 8.5 hours of video (with Wi-Fi deactivated). High battery life will be significant since Zune’s previous models are none other than their poor battery performance.Microsoft also plans to dramatically beef up the video download selection of its Zune Marketplace online store, and use the improved storefront to power the movie and TV downloads available to the Xbox gaming console. The new storefront will support movie rentals that can be transferred to Zune hardware (similar to iTunes movie rentals) playable from either your computer or from the Zune HD.
If Microsoft was trying to steal the thunder out of Apple’s media event on 9th September, it almost succeeded. Almost! Apple’s reply came barely 48hrs after Microsoft’s declaration. Zune HD would be met with a fight and Apple would launch the newest versions of iPod Nano and iPod Touch to counter Zune HD! The big story would be the addition of Cameras to both the iPods! Also featuring would be the introduction of iTunes 9 with elements of social networking built into them. Rumours have it that Apple’s iTunes could carry support for Blu-ray discs, visual management and rearrangement capabilities for App Store software.