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Microsoft Says Next Zune Will Have HD Radio

Premium Zune digital entertainment service to be available on Xbox Live

HD Radio is coming to the Zune.

Wanting to quell rumors and let its customers know the next model of Zune is really coming, Microsoft Corp. confirmed it will be out this fall — and among its features will be built-in HD Radio reception capability.

Zune HD is the first announced portable product for HD Radio, iBiquity Digital President/CEO Bob Struble confirmed to Radio World. Struble said Microsoft is blazing a trail for a new generation of small, hand-held HD Radio-enabled products. National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton said the news gives radio listeners yet another platform to enjoy free radio and positions the Zune HD at the forefront of entertainment products.

The product includes high-definition video output capabilities, an organic LED touch screen, WiFi and an Internet browser. The radio portion of the device also features RDS and HD Radio song tagging capability. Earlier Zunes included FM radio, unlike many other portable media devices of their class.

A Microsoft spokesman told Radio World the company will heavily promote the HD Radio feature as well as the fact that Zune will occupy the first slot within the Xbox video game platform user interface. The HD Digital Radio Alliance plans to push the Zune HD as well.

Price and storage capacity have not yet been announced.