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Zune HD Adds Games and Firmware

The Microsoft Zune HD is a touchscreen media player with radio, wireless, Web browsing -- and downloadable applications which can take advantage of its 3.3" screen and graphics performance (see previous post).

Microsoft recently released a set of new games optimized for the Zune HD to give you a sense of the device's capabilities.

These feature a 3D point of view driving game for racing through city streets, which can connect wirelessly to play with others.

  • PGR: Ferrari Edition - Select your Ferrari cars and steer through the streets of London, Tokyo and New York with touch and tilt controls. Compete with three other players wirelessly.

  • Lucky Lanes Bowling - Chose different bowling alleys, bowlers and ball styles

  • Checkers - Classic game, play against the Zune or wirelessly with other player

  • Audiosurf Tilt - Ride a song visually on roller coaster track based on the shape, speed and mood of the music. Tilt to avoid speed bumps and collect colored boxes

  • Piano - Play portion of keyboard on touch-screen keys

You can review and download Zune apps using the Zune Desktop Software (under Marketplace / Apps) and then sync to the player, or download directly on the Zune HD device. Then run them from the Apps menu. However, apps do take a while to launch -- over five seconds, which is OK for a game but a bit painful for the Calculator app.

Microsoft also has release a new firmware 4.3 update for the Zune HD. Among other improvements, this provides the underlying support for upcoming 3D games and applications, adds an Auto Suggest feature for text input, and speeds Web browsing, with an Internet Settings option to swap between mobile or desktop layout when viewing Web pages. Get the firmware through the Zune Desktop Software (under Settings / Device / Player Update).

See my Portable Media Players Gallery for more on media players

Find the Microsoft Zune HD on Amazon.com

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