Microsoft, Amazon now taking Zune HD pre-orders

New music and video player to hit stores Sept. 15 at $220 and $290

Microsoft Corp. announced that its Zune HD will go on sale Sept. 15 and said retailers are taking pre-orders starting today.

The Zune HD, Microsoft's third try to take on Apple Inc.'s iPod and iPod Touch in the music and video player market, features a 3.3-inch touch-screen display, built-in Wi-Fi that lets users surf when they're within range of a wireless access point and an integrated high-definition radio receiver. According to Microsoft, the device's battery should last 24 hours between charges when playing music, four hours when playing video.

Slated to go on sale on Sept. 15, the Zune HD is available for pre-order beginning today at Microsoft's own online store, as well as and the Best Buy and Wal-Mart online outlets. As of 11 a.m. Eastern time, however, only the first two outlets had actually posted the player for pre-order.

Both Microsoft and Amazon have priced the Zune HD at $219.99 for the 16GB model and $289.99 for the 32GB model.

Featuring Nvidia's Tegra System-on-Chip (SoC), the Zune HD will go head to head with Apple's popular iPod Touch, that company's handheld music/video player and Internet browsing device.

Apple's prices for the iPod Touch are significantly higher than Microsoft's prices for the Zune. The 16GB iPod Touch, for instance, costs $299, or 35% more than the Zune HD with the same storage space, while the 32GB model runs $399, or 38% more than its Microsoft counterpart. (Apple also sells an 8GB iPod Touch for $229.)

The iPod Touch line was last refreshed in September 2008, when Apple introduced a slightly-redesigned device and dropped prices.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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