OK, the Zune HD was officially announced by Microsoft this week, but what really is the deal with the HD branding in the name? I imagine if you asked your family and friends what that meant to them they would probably say that you can watch HD quality TV and movie content on the Zune portable media device. I know that is what I thought before reading further into the details, but that would be wrong. You see, there are only two aspects of the device that have to do with HD and I doubt most consumers will even use these functions. One is for HD radio (yes, over-the-air radio) and I have to wonder how many people even listen to a FM radio today with digital music and players, podcasts, and streaming music clients. I listen to the radio every once in a while in the car, but it isn't something that drives me to purchase a device. Almost all of my S60 phones have FM radios and I rarely listen to them. The second HD functionality is for connecting the Zune HD to an external HD monitor to view content. How often do people really hook up their Zune, iPod, or other mobile device right now to watch digital content on a big screen? If you have a big screen, you usually already have a direct way to get content on there and there is little need for a portable media storage/player, right?
HD radio may sound better than FM radio, but I have honestly never heard it or could even tell you what stations are available in HD. I don't think this is much of a compelling feature myself because of my personal listening habits. Even if HD radio sounds fantastic I doubt I would use this function that much.
The Zune HD has a 480x272 resolution OLED display so the display is far from being a HD display for viewing your media content. Jason Dunn has an informative and slightly heated discussion on the topic of HD on the Zune HD over at Apple Thoughts that you may find enjoyable and informative in regards to this subject.
I honestly think there is lots of value in the Zune Pass subscription and now that I can get my Zune subscription content on Windows Mobile and selected S60 devices I may even end up picking up a Zune HD when they are released. We haven't seen any pricing info yet though so I can't plan for a purchase yet. However, I highly doubt that the HD part of the new Zune is the driving factor for myself or others who pick up the new device.