updated 12:10 pm EDT, Wed August 5, 2009
Zune HD Browser Experience
The web browser for the Zune HD will be one of the highlights of Microsoft's media player when it ships, a hands-on with the devices show. Testing with the player by CNET reveals that the browser, although made by the Internet Explorer team, is directly comparable to Safari for the iPhone and can do nearly everything Apple's software can, including multi-touch commands and the on-screen keyboard. It only lacks recognition of embedded video.
"The Zune's new Web browser smokes," Senior Editor Donald Bell says. "Not since first using the iPhone have I been this impressed with a mobile web browser... page load was snappy, and pinching and reorienting pages work just like the iPhone and iPod touch."
Outside of the web, the Zune HD also promises to make use of its Wi-Fi even during regular music playback. Tracks automatically receive artist info, photos and related artist lists regardless of whether or not they were bought through the Zune Marketplace. As long as the player is online, it can also take users to related artists in the Marketplace to download them.
The player itself is "expensive, solid, and sexy," Bell adds. It's slightly thicker than the iPod touch but considerably narrower due to its smaller and lower resolution 480x272 display.
Microsoft won't yet commit to a price or a ship date for the player, although it's expected in September at or near $249 for a 16GB model. The player is intended to outclass the current iPod touch in features with a high-color OLED display, HD Radio tuning and 720p video playback on a TV. The latter uses a special video dock that will come with HDMI output and a remote control.