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The Zune HD is a portable media player in the Zune product family released on September 15, 2009 by Microsoft. It was a direct competitor with Apple's iPod touch series of mobile devices. It was initially released in 16 and 32 GB capacities,[1] with a 64 GB version released on April 9, 2010. It has a touchscreen interface for navigation and included Wi-Fi for synchronization, access to the Zune Marketplace and web browsing.

The Zune HD utilizes the Nvidia Tegra APX 2600 chip, allowing it to play 720p video through the optional HDMI Zune dock on a high-definition television. Otherwise, content will be scaled down to 480x272 pixels on the player's OLED touchscreen.


Once long-time Microsoft competitor Apple unveiled its popular iPod touch model, Microsoft R&D department head, Robbie Bach began work on a touch-screen Zune player to combat it. The department started immediately on reworking the Windows CE-based OS of the older Zune to suit the new multitouch PMP. Astro Studios was contracted to design the Zune HD's aluminum casing.[7] On June 19, 2009, Zune Insider host Matt Akers confirmed that the Zune HD would have a Nvidia Tegra APX 2600 chip and OLED touchscreen.[8]

The Zune HD was released on September 15, 2009 to retail markets in black and platinum colors and 16 or 32GB capacities; additionally, red, green, and blue-colored models were available through the online Zune Originals store.[9]

Two months later, on November 6, 2009, firmware update 4.3 was released.[10] The new firmware version improved the performance of the web browser, added support for the apps that were to be released in the days that followed, and fixed several notable bugs. On November 11, 2009, several new apps appeared on the Zune Marketplace. The new apps included PGR: Ferrari Edition, Audiosurf Tilt, Lucky Lanes Bowling, Vans Sk8: Pool Service, Checkers, and Piano.[11]

The Zune HD's Twitter app was released on December 16, 2009 to the Zune Marketplace[12]; however, it was soon noticed that the app was censoring tweets. This was likely an effort on Microsoft's part to appease parents, because the Zune HD does not have parental controls. Microsoft promptly fixed this following an outcry among Zune HD owners in version 1.1 of the app.[13]

After previously being promised before the end of 2009[14], the Facebook app was made available on the Zune Marketplace on March 1, 2010. Initially, the app had some API issues in which it could not download most information from Facebook, but these issues were corrected 2 days later without a software update.[15]

On April 5, 2010, after being announced at CES 2010[16], firmware version 4.5 was released, bringing with it several new features, such as on-device Smart DJ (a feature that had been present in the PC software for some time), Xvid codec support, and Marketplace support through the optional dock.[17]

Less than one week later, on the 9th of April, a 64GB capacity Zune HD went on sale; in addition, the 16GB and 32GB models released in September 2009 both had a price drop of USD$20 on their MSRPs.[18][19]


The specifications as listed by the official web site of the Zune HD, as well as reported by various sources:[3][20]

  • 3.3-inch glass capacitive multi-touch OLED display with a 16:9 480x272 resolution
  • Built-in accelerometer
  • Windows CE 6.0 operating system
  • 16, 32, and 64 GB flash memory options[21]
  • CPU and GPU: Nvidia Tegra APX 2600 with one ARM11 and one ARM7 processor cores, plus 6 other dedicated cores[5][22]
  • RAM: 128 MB Hynix SDRAM[6]
  • 802.11b/g Wi-Fi with open, WEP, WPA, and WPA2 authentication modes and WEP 64-bit and 128-bit, TKIP, and AES encryption modes[20]
  • Built-in rechargeable 3.7V 660mAh lithium-ion polymer battery with up to 33 hours of audio playback (wireless off) and 8.5 hours of video[23]
  • Size: 52.7x102.1x8.9mm (2.07x4.08x0.35 in)
  • Weight: 74g (2.6 oz)[24]
  • FM/HD radio tuner
  • Equalizer
  • Web browser (based on Internet Explorer Mobile 6 for Windows CE)
  • Support for apps built with Microsoft's XNA platform[25]
  • Audio output: Analog RCA and Optical Digital out (additional dock required)
  • Audio support:[20]
    • CBR and VBR audio, up to 48 kHz sample rate, for:
      • WMA Standard up to 384 kbps (DRM protected files can be played only if purchased from the Zune Marketplace)
      • WMA Pro stereo up to 768 kbps
      • WMA Lossless stereo up to 768 kbps
      • Unprotected AAC-LC (.mp4/.m4a/.m4b) up to 320 kbps
      • MP3 up to 320 kbps
  • Video support:[20]
    • Up to 1080i resolution and 14 Mbps bit rate, CBR or VBR for:
      • H.264, Baseline Profile up to Level 3.1 + B-frames support[20]
      • WMV Main and Simple Profile, Advanced profile up to Level 2.
      • MPEG-4 Part 2 Advanced Simple Profile up to 4.0 Mbps bit rate
    • 720p high definition video output using HDMI or composite connections (additional dock required for both)



Apps available for the Zune HD include Stopwatch, Facebook, Twitter, MSN Money, Calculator, MSN Weather, and Piano. An extension to the Microsoft XNA framework providing development support for the Zune HD was released on September 16, 2009.[25] The Zune PC Software can be used for adding apps to the Zune HD.[14]

As of May 2010, the Zune Marketplace has 24 apps. Stopwatch, Labyrinth, & Solitaire were added to the marketplace on April 28, 2010. Two more card game apps, Spades and Hearts, and updates to the Facebook and Twitter apps were released on May 18, 2010.[26] MSN Money and Animalgrams apps came out July 29, 2010, along with another update to the Twitter and Facebook app.


Games for the Zune HD include Labyrinth, Animalgrams, Solitaire, Project Gotham Racing: Ferrari Edition, Vans Sk8: Pool Service, Checkers, Sudoku, Space Battle 2, Lucky Lanes Bowling, Goo Splat, Chess, Shell Game.... of the Future, Hexic and Audiosurf(TM) Tilt. Indie titles written with XNA are also available from multiple sources. Integration with the Xbox 360 has been reported to be under development. It has also been hinted at that the Zune HD will have it's app store merged with the Windows Phone 7 store. This speculation comes from MIX 2010, where they said that they'd be converting Zune HD apps over to the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.

On April 20, 2010, an independent app developer released a port of Doom,[27] one of the first independent 3D games to be developed for the Zune HD, using OpenZDK.

Web browser

The browser features favorites and Bing search. The keyboard can be accessed by touching a text box, swiping up from the bottom bar of the browser and touching the address bar, or touching the magnifying glass (search) icon on the bottom bar of the browser. The keyboard has portrait orientation, with the keys bulging around the user's finger when touched. The web browser has pinch and stretch for zooming and page reorientation due to the built in accelerometer.[28] As of launch, the Zune HD's web browser does not support flash applications, such as video playback on YouTube.

With the 4.3 firmware update, browsing performance was improved, and users can change the Internet settings to display the browser optimized for a Mobile device or for a PC experience. In addition, users can now enable "auto correct" and "auto capitalize" when using the keyboard to enter information, making it easier to type content into the browser.

With the 4.5 firmware update, browsing performance was further improved, Smart DJ playlists, Picks on Zune HD, Expanded Video Codec support, and the ability to download photos and sort favorites by name and date were added.

Metro UI

The Zune HD was the first instance of the typograhy-based UI that would ultimately be included with Windows Phone 7 and the short-lived Microsoft Kin phones. It uses a font called "Zegoe", which is a modified version of Microsoft's main UI font, Segoe.

Technology news website Gizmodo labeled the Zune HD's UI as "an evolution of the PMP—not a devolution of some smartphone model. Every new feature it has is used to expand the way you absorb media, from the HD video output to the HD radio to the redesigned UI."[29]


Prior to the release of the OpenZDK development kit, writing applications for the Zune required the use of Microsoft's XNA development environment. Instead of using XNA, developers can now write apps in C++ that run natively on the Zune, without the overhead of the XNA library. Developers can also access APIs previously used only by Microsoft, such as the 3D graphics and Internet APIs.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Preorder now available". Microsoft. 2006-08-13. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  2. Miller, Ross (2010-07-22). "Microsoft reports $4.5b in profit, a record $16.04b in revenue". Engadget. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Fried, Ina (26 May 2009). "Microsoft confirms Zune HD coming this fall". CNET. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sajid, Uzair (4 April 2009). "Zune HD Powered by NVIDIA Tegra". Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "NVIDIA Tegra APX Applications Processors". Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Galan, Walter (2009-09-24). "Microsoft Zune HD Teardown". iFixit. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  7. Galbraith, Tom (2009-09-18). "Astro teams up with Microsoft on the new Zune HD". Astro Studios. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  8. Ross Miller (2009-06-19). "Zune HD has a Tegra processor, confirms official Zune podcast". Engadget. 
  9. Melanson, Donald (2009-08-13). "Zune HD color options revealed in email". Engadget. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  10. Murph, Darren (2009-11-07). "Zune HD v4.3 firmware out now: fixes playcount bug, adds lots of great things". Engadget. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  11. Savov, Vladislav (2009-11-11). "Zune HD Marketplace now loaded with free 3D games". Engadget. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  12. Patel, Nilay (2009-12-16). "Zune HD Twitter app now live UPDATE: it censors tweets!". Engadget. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  13. Patel, Nilay (2009-12-17). "Microsoft updating Zune HD Twitter to stop censoring tweets". Engadget. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Ricker, Thomas (2009-09-15). "Zune HD gaming and app downloads confirmed: Twitter, Facebook, and 3D games on the way (updated)". Engadget. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  15. Miller, Paul (2010-03-01). "Facebook app now available for Zune HD (update: it's also broken)". Engadget. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  16. Bell, Donald (2010-01-07). "Zune HD to get XviD, better playlists". CNET. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  17. Miller, Ross (2010-04-05). "Zune HD v4.5 firmware now available". Engadget. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  18. Miller, Ross (2010-03-31). "64GB Zune HD launching April 12th for $350, current models reduced $20". Engadget. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  19. Melanson, Donald. "Zune HD 64 goes on sale early". Engadget. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 "Zune HD 32 / tech specs". Microsoft. Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  21. Miller, Ross (2009-08-10). "Zune HD hits FCC in prolific photo shoot, 16 and 32 Gb capacities". Engadget. Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  22. "NVIDIA Tegra Provides The Multimedia Muscle In Zune HD". Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  23. "Zune HD hits FCC in prolific photo shoot, Li-Ion Battery". CNET. Retrieved 2009-08-24. 
  24. "Zune HD Product Information". Microsoft Store. 
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.1 Zune Extensions". 
  26. "We just added Hearts & Spades for Zune HD! Check out the App section in Marketplace to get them for free!". 2010-05-18. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  27. Doom for the Zune HD 1.2
  28. Bell, Donald (2006-08-04). "Zune HD hands-on look, impressions, tears of joy". CNET. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  29. Nosowitz, Dan (2009-09-16). "Zune HD Review: The PMP, Evolved". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 

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