When I reviewed the Zune HD portable media player a few months ago, I was impressed with the user interface and overall audio and video playback performance. But I was a bit disappointed with the limited video codec support. Now Microsoft is doing that. Engadget and Gizmodo are both reporting that Microsoft will offer updated software within the next few weeks that, among other things, will add support for Xvid and other MPEG-4 codecs that had not previously been supported — but not DivX.
Another new feature is support for Smart DJ playlists. Currently, Smart DJ can create instant playlists based on criteria you select — but only using the Zune desktop software. The Zune HD 4.5 firmware update will let you use SmartDJ on a device.
What’s even cooler is that when you’re connected to WiFi, you’ll be able to stream music directly from the Zune Marketplace — if you have a monthly Zune Pass subscription. This makes SmartDJ something of a cross between the iPhone/iPod touch Genius playlist function and an internet radio app like Pandora.
Now if only Microsoft would issue an update that would allow more third party apps to run on the Zune HD.