Into our tips this evening dropped this photo labeled "Zune 3rd". We're not sure if it's real, but it's certainly an interesting addition to the phantom new Zune lineup. UPDATED.

Presuming the "Zune HD" is real, that leaves two spots left in the probably concise new Zune product line: An HDD-based player evolving from the Zune 80/120, and a smaller flash player to replace the Zune 4/8/16. It's unclear where this would fit; all we can see is that it retains the "squircle" and it's packing a large widescreen.


On the other hand, if we take the Zune HD as real, we've got some problems as well. This image doesn't jibe with the HD either in style (the HD is aluminum, not black) or in advertising tone (this one has the old-school paint images instead of the newer geometric shapes). Plus, we don't like how low on the player's body that squircle sits— it looks like it'd be awkward to hold and use.

We'll keep you updated if and when more info trickles in. [Thanks, onionpiggy!]

UPDATE: Jared Marino of Zunited, being convincing:

I can say beyond a shadows of a doubt that this image is fake and fan made. For numerous reasons. First off, Microsoft considers the HD the fourth generation device, not third, the gradients and bevels have been analyzed and are clearly made in Photoshop. The background is a Photoshop brush pack, the squircle image is ripped pixel for pixel from the Zune 80 Press image from I happen to be in close connection with Ryan Rea and Sources at Microsoft and I can tell you this is fake.


Not to mention this side-by-side image, complete with an obvious distorted logo, from Joel Dominie:

So, fake.