The next generation of Zune portable media device gets its HD processing punch from the Nvidia Tegra chip with graphics processing built in. Could high-definition video be the move that leapfrogs the Zune past the iPod?
The Zune HD is the first device to include the Nvidia Tegra processor. Basically the processor contains two ARM chips, one of which is for dedicated video processing.
The video processing chip is a small Nvidia GeForce graphics chip not unlike what you might find in a gaming computer. This combination makes the first processor small enough for mobile devices but beefy enough for HD video.
The Zune HD has 10 to 20 hours of HD video capacity in the 16 GB versus 32 GB models. Users can watch video in 480 x 272 resolution on their Zune or connect the device to their TV using a special docking station for full 720p.
While it’s handy to have the processing power to handle video in 720p, what’s the use if you’ll be viewing it in a lower resolution on your Zune? That means that the HD capacity is only really useful if you connect it to your TV regularly.
This places the Zune squarely between a personal media device and a not-quite-DVR. Quite the awkward market to target since the Zune can’t record television and its capacity is too small to compete in the DVR market.
Still the Zune is a great option for sharing home videos when visiting family and friends. It could also serve to bring a few movies along on a long trip or vacation.
While there are uses for all that computing horsepower, it certainly isn’t necessary for most people that use the Zune as for music and as an occasional video player. The Zune line continues to have a small cult-like following, but isn’t likely to oust the iPod as the most popular mainstream device any time soon.