May 27, 2009, 8:15 AM — Remember back in April when we talked about a rumored Zune HD? Well it turns out the rumors were fairly accurate, because Microsoft has announced a Fall launch date for the device. They've even got a spiffy new website to promote it.
So here's what we know. An ironically non-HD 480x272 resolution OLED touchscreen, built-in Wi-Fi, built-in HD Radio, and HD (720p) output to a TV, but via a docking station (sold separately) rather than through a built-in HDMI port as earlier speculated. Flash memory rather than a hard drive. The OS is based on Windows CE and comes with a version of Internet Explorer. No word yet on pricing. Engadget has a comprehensive rundown of the specs.
The hardware is only the first half of the story. Next is integration with the Xbox 360. Microsoft has already announced that they'll be consolidating their Xbox Live Marketplace video store with their Zune Store, re-branding the Marketplace as a Zune Store. The idea is that content you buy from the store will be playable on your Zune or on your Xbox. But what about games? The current Xbox Live Marketplace sells games as well as videos. Will Xbox users have access to a Zune Store for video and a Marketplace for games, or will the games be folded into the Zune Store as well? Which leads to the further question of what kind of game-playing capabilities the Zune HD will have? Clearly Microsoft is gunning for the iPod Touch/iPhone and games are becoming a strong feature of the App Store.
Expect more information on the Zune HD to be revealed at Microsoft's E3 Press Conference next Monday, June 1st.