Microsoft to battle iPod Touch with Zune HD

Redmond (WA) – Microsoft confirmed that it will release the Zune HD media player, a new member in the Zune family that is squarely aimed at Apple’s iPod Touch.

According to Microsoft, Zune HD is the first portable media player that combines a built-in HD Radio receiver, high-definition (HD) video output capabilities, organic light-emitting diode (OLED) multi-touch screen, Wi-Fi and an Internet browser.

The display has a 16:9 format and supports a resolution of 480×272 pixel resolution. High-definition content can be played back externally via an HDMI-based docking station that supports output in 720p.

Microsoft said that it will release the player this fall in the U.S. Early rumors suggest that the device will only come with flash memory and we would expect at least two models, one with 16 GB and the other with 32 GB capacity. Prices should start in the $200 neighborhood, with the $32 GB model touching $300.

Microsoft also announced a new Zune video content service for the Xbox 360. The new service will replace the current Xbox Live marketplace for TV and movies and will be shown first at the upcoming E3 tradeshow.