Microsoft Zune HD: iPod Contender?

Recently we took a look at Sony’s new offering to the mobile media marketplace, the PSPgo, and we talked about whether it could compete with the iPod Touch. Well, it seems as if Microsoft isn’t going to be left out of the next-gen handheld media device wars.

Redmond’s newest entry into the field is the Zune HD, a revamping of MS’s reasonably popular device that has been through a couple of reincarnations already. This time, however, it seems as if they’ve taken things a step further in their effort to make a serious bid to gain a fare share of the mobile entertainment market. The new Zune HD still resembles its older brother, but packs a bit more into its colorful case.

Everyone should be aware by now that to compete in this arena, a company has to have a plan for delivering digital content, and Microsoft is trying to make sure they aren’t left behind in this area either. Offering an unlimited music service, which will be available via $15 monthly fee, MS will allow subscribers to stream unlimited content. The downfall is the fact that you loose your music library if you choose to unsubscribe.

A big nifty for the Zune HD is just that, HD. Microsoft got a hold of Nvidia’s Tegra system-on-a-chip platform for their new baby. The Tegra is an HD mobile processor that allows the Zune HD to deliver video at 720p.

Other steps towards a decent device include a touch screen and a first attempt at a web browser, although the web browser is in beta condition at best. Another upgrade to the device came in the form of an HD radio tuner in place of the standard tuner.

Overall, the Zune HD will still have a lot to prove if Microsoft plans to compete against the iPod. As it sits, I would still bet on Apple in this market; they are established and have polished devices. Jobs and his crew would have to make some major mistakes to loose their spot at the top.

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