Microsoft Unveils HD Zune

REDMOND, WASH.: Microsoft confirmed last night that it planned to introduce an HD version of its Zune player this fall. The new device will combine integrated HD video output, HD radio reception, WiFi, a touch screen, Internet browser and sport an OLED screen. In addition, Zune’s video service will be extended to Xbox Live internationally to more than 17 million subscribers.

“Zune will occupy the first slot within the Xbox user interface in the Xbox LIVE Video Marketplace, exposing the Zune brand experience to millions of new consumers for the first time,” Microsoft said in its release. “At the Electronic Entertainment Expo next week, attendees will see firsthand how Zune integrates into Xbox LIVE to create a game-changing entertainment experience.” EEE is scheduled to take place June 2-4 in the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Todd Bishop of TechFlash wrote that linking the iPod chaser with Xbox was an effort to grow the Zune brand, and that the addition of HD demonstrated Microsoft’s commitment to making Zunes. Existing Zunes have an FM radio receiver, the one thing the iPod does not sport, though it does have the wildly popular App Store. Pricing on the new and improved Zune is not yet available. -- Deborah D. McAdams