Microsoft has launched the new edition of its Zune music player. It will clearly be the best Zune yet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean many people will need, or even want, to buy one.
The supposed big selling point is given away in the name: the Zune HD. Yep, you can now get crystal-clear high-resolution pictures…. on a 3.3” screen.
To be fair, you can also hook the device up to an HD television and watch the programming that way. There are, presumably, some pretty strained circumstances in which this could be useful (you’re staying for a week with your grandparents, who don’t have broadband or a Blu-ray player, but did get confused by the digital broadcasting transition and bought an HD set), but it’s not exactly something people have been crying out for. The more useful HD feature is that the new Zune will be able to pick up HD radio stations.
Among the Zune’s other features are a Wi-fi receiver with built-in web browser (though this is again the point to reflect on the 3.3” screen). There’ll also be dedicated Zune content available to download through the Xbox Live service. And the display will be OLED rather than LCD, meaning battery life could be longer for video playback.
Pricing for the device isn’t yet available. The big problem seems to be that for so much functionality it would need such a hefty price that the only way to get it selling among the mass market would be to have a trendy, cool, ‘must-have’ brand like, erm, the iPod.
There’s no denying that if the performance matches the breadth of the feature list, the Zune HD will be a seriously sweet bit of kit. But unless you’ve just had your entire collection of gadgets stolen and have an insurance check burning a hole in your pocket to replace them, there doesn’t really seem much likelihood of it filling enough gaps in your audio-video needs to be a worthwhile purchase.