After Taking Whipping From iPod, Redesigned Zune Will Battle iPod Touch

Microsoft’s Zune is like Rocky in his fight with Ivan Drago. After getting the crap thoroughly beaten out of it in front of the entire civilized world, the Zune just keeps stepping back into the ring for more punishment.

On Tuesday Microsoft announced its new Zune HD, which plays movies, music and games, joining the iPod Touch, PSP and DSi as do-almost-everything devices that still leave you with iPhone envy because it won’t place calls or hook up online without a WiFi signal.

What gives the new Zune a fighting chance is its integration with Xbox Live, the brilliant online gaming/social networking service on the Xbox 360. Variety’s Chris Morris is impressed with the idea behind the redesigned device, which is slated for release later this year.

“Many of our Zune customers are Xbox Live Subscribers,” said Brian Seitz, a spokesperson for Microsoft’s Zune division. “For Xbox Live subscribers that aren’t Zune owners, we’re hoping they’ll be impressed with the video offerings they see … and give us a second look when they’re looking for a new device.”

Look at some of the Zune HD‘s new features and it’s pretty obvious that Microsoft realizes their first efforts weren’t game changing enough to make a real impact on the portable entertainment marketplace. If it lives up to the hype, the Zune HD could become a much larger player in the field.

Among the new features are:

* Built-in HD Radio receiver
* HD video output capabilities
* OLED touch screen, allowing you to flip through music, movies and other content
* Wi-fi
* Internet browser optimized for multi-touch

Microsoft should be flashing its new baby next week at the E3 convention in Los Angeles, when journalists will go hands-on with the Zune HD and let you know if it has the eye of the tiger.

Zune HD is real – and it’s going to shake up Xbox Live [Variety]