Microsoft today announced its latest Zune portable media player designed to go head to head with Apple’s iPod touch. Dubbed the Zune HD, the device features a 3.3″ 16:9 widescreen capacitive OLED with multitouch, WiFi, and a built-in web browser, along with existing Zune media playback features. Talking of which, the “HD” moniker refers to both HD Radio (offering higher quality audio and additional track and station data), along with support for 720p HD video playback. Interestingly, the device itself only offers a screen resolution of 480 x 272, meaning that High Def videos played back on the device are downscaled, which shouldn’t matter all that much on such a small screen. To view content in its full HD glory, the Zune HD features a HDMI-compatible docking station for plugging into a high definition television.
Of course to really take on the iPod touch, not only will the Zune HD’s web browsing experience need to up its game compared to existing Windows Mobile devices, but it would need to foster its own third-party software eco-system. Something that Microsoft hasn’t yet announced and it’s unclear if the company plans to do so, although I’m not ruling it out. Remember Apple doesn’t call the iPod touch a media player, instead referring to the device as the “first mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform, running all kinds of mobile applications.”