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Zune HD to support streaming music/video to TV

29 March, 2010 (16:20) | zune news | By: Harvey Chute

The next firmware release for Zune HD players - “Zune 4.5″ - will be released in the next few weeks. We’ll get some sweet new features - a few that were announced previously, plus some nice surprises. Here’s what’s coming:

Smart DJ on Zune HD. As we heard in January’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Zune 4.5 will provide instant playlists directly on the HD player. These playlists consist of selections from your local tracks, as well as streaming Marketplace content for Zune Pass subscribers. This is one of my favorite features of the Zune PC software and it’s great to see it coming right on the player. You choose a song or artist - either from your collection or from Marketplace - and press Smart DJ to create a mix of tracks.

Stream Music from Zune Marketplace on your TV. With firmware 4.5, you can connect your Zune HD to your TV via the Zune HD A/V dock, and stream music from Zune Marketplace through your TV. You can navigate through New Releases, choose from your Picks, search for songs or artists, or create a new Smart DJ playlist on your big screen. This is in addition to playing your device’s local music and videos on your TV through the dock. I can see this being an appealing way to show off new Smart DJ playlists - having the Now Playing graphics displayed on my TV, while the music plays through my home theatre sound system.

Picks on Zune HD. “Picks” - a Zune software feature that recommends content for you based on what you listen to - is coming to the HD player. On the go, you’ll now be able to see personalized recommendations right on the device.

More Codec Support. Also announced at CES, your Zune HD will have native support for MPEG-4 Part 2 Advanced Simple Profile (ASP), which includes Xvid and Avi support. No transcoding required! .

Zune 4.5 will be released in the next few weeks; we don’t have a specific date yet. The new features will apply to Zune HD players only; they aren’t available for older Zune player models.

It’s a significant update for the Zune HD, which was released last September with its OLED screen, HD Radio, HD video out, and music discovery features. This update builds on that, especially in the music discovery area. When coupled with a Zune Pass subscription, the firmware update provides Zune HD owners with more powerful and easy ways to get ready access to new music as well as old favorites.