Microsoft Zune HD gets hands-on: awesome screen, proficient PMP

After the prematurely-released Zune HD press images yesterday, CNET had the chance to go hands-on with the latest pre-production model, and the best news (for Microsoft at least) is that they reckon it's the best Zune yet.  Gaining particular praise are the 3.3-inch OLED display, which is crisp and bright, while the browser – though lacking Flash support – works just like that of the iPod touch when it comes to multitouch gestures.

Also praised are the sound quality – with the Zune HD using its predecessor's well-esteemed Wolfson DAC – and the menu and navigation structures.  It doesn't sound like CNET had a chance to see 720p HD playback, which is via the Zune HD's dock, but even on-screen 480 x 272 footage gets the quality thumbs-up.

Microsoft have seemingly been working on how to best use WiFi, with more automatic album art, bio info, "similar artists" and other data collection when you have a connection.  As for pricing, the Zune team wouldn't be pushed but did sport some suitably "incredulous looks" when told how much Sony have priced their similarly OLED touchscreen Walkman X.