Prospective buyers can already start pre-ordering Microsoft's forthcoming iPod Touch challenger, the Zune HD, from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and Microsoft although a release date for the rest of the world has yet to be set.
The players will be available for sale as from the 15th of September across the United states; the 16GB and 32GB platinum models will cost either $220 or $290 and will be available in five different colours with the option to put one of 10 new engravings designed by guest artists.
Microsoft has judiciously priced the Zune HD well below the iPod Touch whose 16GB and 32GB version costs $299 and $399 respectively. According to the Amazon pre-order page, the portable media player can also be used to play games and access the Xbox 360 through the Xbox Live.
The ZuneHD also comes with a touchscreen (a superb 16:9 OLED 3.3-inch model capable of showing 480x272 pixels) and is much slimmer than the previous version.
Other additional enhancements include a HD radio receiver, built in accelerometer, a full-featured web browser with tap-to-zoom technology, WiFi and the ability to display HD video (hence the name) on a big television set thanks to the Nvidia Tegra chipset that's exclusive to the Zune HD.
You will need an AV dock and a compatible TV though to watch the content which is displayed at 720p. The same content can also be played on the player and will be downscaled to fit the screen.
Microsoft said in a statement that "Combined with unparalleled PC software and online services such as Zune Pass, Zune provides a rich and meaningful connection to music, videos, podcasts, and more".