Microsoft has released a new version of their MP3 player, the Zune HD. Our friends over at iFixit got hold of one of these devices and took it a part for us to see. The Zune HD was a long time coming, but the hardware found inside the device may well have been worth it.
iFixit is a one-stop-shop for the parts, tools, and repair manuals needed to fix iPods, iPhones, Macs, and more. They make it easy for anyone to repair their Apple hardware. Follow along as iFixit engineers disassemble the Microsoft Zune HD.
The Zune features a 3.3 inch OLED display and capacitive touch screen. OLED screens do not require a backlight like traditional LCDs. This means they can draw significantly less power than a traditional LCD. This isn't the first product with an OLED, but it's certainly cutting-edge technology, and something we haven't seen in any Apple devices yet.
The Zune's OLED features a resolution of 480x272, a 16:9 aspect ratio. Microsoft clearly wants you to watch movies on the Zune.
The Zune HD is 102.1 mm x 52.7 mm x 8.9 mm, while the iPod touch is 110 mm x 61.8 mm x 8.5 mm. If the iPod touch were square, it would have 20% more volume than the Zune. We could integrate to calculate the area under those curves, but we'll save that fun stuff for you mathletes out there.
That's about 16% less capacity than the 789 mAh battery in the new iPod touch. However, Microsoft promises longer run time than the touch for both music and videos.
Let's make up some fun units. Apple claims 30 hours of music for the touch, and Microsoft claims 33 hours for the Zune. That means the touch uses 26.3 milliamp hours per hour, while the Zune uses only 20 milliamp hours per hour. However, if you really care about getting the most for your milliamps, it's hard to beat an iPod shuffle (7.3 mAh/hour).
We assume this is here to improve the reception for the Zune's antenna(s). A nice feature (nowhere to be seen on the iPod touch) is the Zune's built in HD radio. It's the only HD you can actually play on your Zune.
The Zune sports only three external buttons, while the iPod touch has four. Apple doesn't think their users are smart enough to handle a multi-button mouse, but they expect people to be able to use four different buttons on their iPod touch. Steve Jobs is probably already trying to figure out how to remove two buttons from the iPod touch.
Like the iPod touch, the Zune has a soldered battery. The battery should be easier to replace than on the new iPod touch, since the Zune's battery has individual wires for the battery leads. In the touch, the battery leads run through a single ribbon cable, making hand-soldering a challenge.
We desoldered the EMI shield to see what was beneath.
It's an Atheros AR6002. Unlike the new iPod touch, this chip does not support 802.11n.
Atheros claims this chip is super power efficient: "The game-changing power efficiency delivered by the AR6002 significantly extends battery life. In fact, the AR6002 consumes 70% less power in active mode than competitive solutions and near-zero power in standby."
Comment and share: Cracking Open the Microsoft Zune HD
By Mark Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.