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Zune HD to get XviD, better playlists

Microsoft's Zune HD portable media player is due to get a handful of updates this Spring, bringing MPEG-4 part 2 Advanced Simple Profile support with XviD, Smart DJ playlists, and with any luck, a Facebook app.

Donald Bell Senior Editor / How To
Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.
Donald Bell

Photo of Zune HD portable media player at CES 2010.
Zune HD gets a little time in the sun at CES 2010. Donald Bell/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Microsoft didn't exactly take our breath away with yesterday's CES 2010 keynote, but we're getting word that Zune HD users will soon have some good news to shout about.

Come Spring, the Zune HD should receive a firmware update providing support for MPEG-4 part 2 Advanced Simple Profile videos, including the torrent junkie's format of choice, XviD. When pressed on whether DivX support would also be added, our contact explained it was unlikely, because of proprietary restrictions. Also unclear is what range of resolutions will be supported, although we did confirm that the new format support will maintain compatibility with the HD AV dock accessory.

The firmware update will also bring over a Smart DJ feature, which currently is found only in the Zune's client software. The addition of Smart DJ playlists brings the Zune HD in line with the on-the-fly Genius playlist capabilities of the iPod Touch. Better yet, Zune Pass users within Wi-Fi range will have the ability to create Smart DJ playlists that incorporate streaming content from Zune Marketplace, in addition to songs already stored on the device.

Microsoft representatives were also quick to remind us that its mythical Facebook app is on track for early this year. With the Zune HD Twitter app seeing the light of day last month, there's reason for users to keep the faith.