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Zune HD software update brings 3D games, widescreen keyboard

Zune HD 3D games
The Microsoft Zune HD is an intriguing device. It's a pretty good portable media player. It can handle 720p HD video in WMV and H.264 formats, and it has excellent audio quality. It even packs an HD radio tuner. And the NVIDIA Tegra chipset enable some pretty flashy (but still useful) graphics in the user interface.

And the Tegra procesor means the Zune HD can also handle some pretty slick games and other applications. Up until now, that meant a few games, a calculator, and a weather application. But now Microsoft has added a few new 3D games to the Zune Marketplace: Audio Surf: Tilt, PGR: Ferrari Edition, Checkers, Lucky Lanes Bowling, and Vans sk8: Pool Service. There's also a new Piano application.

The new games are pretty slick and really help demonstrate the power of the Zune HD platform. Unfortunately, it's still not much of a platform. There are over 100,000 apps in the iPhone app store. There are 15 in the Zune Marketplace.

Granted, all of the Zune apps are free (although you have to put up with a brief add for the Zune Pass music subscription before they start). But where are the third party apps? Where are the chat, Twitter, and Facebook clients? Or calendar and contacts applications? Heck, with the graphics capabilities on the Zune HD, where's Virtual Earth?

Anyway, the new applications should be available to anyone who updated their Zune HD to run version 4.3 of the Zune software. The update also brings a few other changes, including support for a larger virtual keyboard in landscape mode and an auto-suggest feature for text input.

You can check out my brief hands-on video with the new games after the break.

Tags: 3d games, 3dGames, zune, zune hd, ZuneHd