I have always been an iPod guy but I bought a Zune anyway. The prices have been so low lately that I just had to buy one and try it out. I have been using it for two weeks and I am very impressed with the Zune.
Over the last month I had been seeing Zune on sale for dirt cheap. Dell had a sale on a new 8GB model with the Car Pack for $80. I had an eight hour Reno T-Day trip coming up so I thought this would be a great opportunity to try one out.
How can you pass up these prices? You can also find refurb models all over. You can get a refurb 80Gb at Walmart for $130 and then get 10% Bing CB! How about a 30GB from TigerDirect for $64 after 8% Bing? Crazeee.
- Zune Player
- $14.99 a month (huh?)
- Two beers (one shown, optional as always)
Download Zune Software
Downloading is easy. Just go to http://www.zune.net/en-US/default.htm to get started.
ZUNE MONTHLY COST – IMPORTANT
Ok, so here is the thing with Zune. It is $14.99 plus tax a month for the service. What? Now before you say NO realize you get 10 song credits (permanent downloads) each month. So if you are comparing Apples to Apples at $.99, and you buy one ten song album a month, then you are only out $5.09. But you are really not out anything! You get so much for the $5.
Really? What do you get for the remaining $5.09?
- Download an unlimited number of songs on up to three computers
- Play the songs an unlimited number of times
- Sync the downloaded songs an unlimited number of times with up to three Zune players
- Listen to Zune through an internet browser
Microsoft allows you to download most songs for free.You do not need to buy them! It is part of your subscription. I have downloaded almost 1,000 songs over the last few weeks and have not bought a single one! If I really needed to buy one I could but they are already on my Zune and available to play now.
Zune and You
After Zune starts it will start to look around for your media. You can start playing your media immediately. It has some cool graphics while it plays.
Zune finds your media and puts it into different categories. Each category has different types. It can track all of your media.
Connecting your Zune
Once you connect the actual Zune player it recognizes the device and will start a Sync of your stuff. You control what is on the Sync.
Mental note: You can sync up to three Zune on a PC.
The first Sync takes a little while due to the amount of files but subsequent Syncs are quick.
You can also get stats on your player. I am not going to Sync photos or videos on the 8GB player.
Zune even looks at your music and gives you picks you might like.
The 8GB Zune Player and Car Kit
The 8GB is fine for music and short videos. The screen is a little small for videos and pictures and since the video and picture file is the same size you might want to get the larger player.
The Zune plays fine in the car although we had to keep changing stations as I drove up the 99 highway. The Zune also has a built in FM Radio! Sweet.
Map to your iTunes music
This is easy. According to Microsoft:
“You can import music and videos from iTunes directly into your Zune collection, so long as they do not have digital rights management (DRM). Follow these steps to import your DRM-free iTunes media directly into Zune software.
Import DRM-free music and videos from iTunes into Zune software
- In Zune software select Settings, then Software.
- Under Monitored folders, add a folder under Music that corresponds to the location of your iTunes music files, and another one under Video that corresponds to the location of your iTunes video files. Zune software will automatically add them to your collection.”
Now that I am up and running I am going to get me some Zune music…
…and play some of my favorites…
Movies and Recorded TV on Zune
Below is a SG1 movie (not in HD) I recorded in WMC and WHS TV Archived last month. It was automatically found by Zune.
The SG1 file looked like the screen below in Zune:
I am not sure where my other shows are. They all are moved automatically to my Windows Home Server via TV Archive. I even have more of the same V shows. WTF?
Strange. Will have to look into that. Crap. And the one “V” show I had recorded that shows up? My Recorded TV show “V” had no sound. #()$&*#@(%*$&
No HD AC3 encoding for Microsoft. Really? You are Microsoft right? Seriously.
Conversion option for non-protected WMC TV Recordings
This is SGU (not in HD) this week. I recorded it over WMC and wanted to have it on Zune as well as WHS. It is on WHS like the other SG show but in NOT in Zune. I do not have the patience to figure this out right now. Seriously.
Here is what I did:
- Move the file from your WHS back to your Windows 7 PC
- Right mouse click on the file to convert it to dvr-ms
- Use Windows Movie Maker to open the file
- Save it to WMV and let it finish in the background (it takes a while)
Once the conversion was complete Zune would finally see it.
I know there are other “toolboxes” that convert the files but I wanted to use Microsoft products. Why should I even have to do this?
You can see my other video cam files, screen videos and converted SGU video in Zune. You can map any additional folders you want. Once the files are in the right format Zune instantly finds the files and any changes you may make.
Zune offers so much more…
I am only scratching the surface of Zune. I did not cover Channels, Podcasts, Social or multiple devices. It has games, videos and movies too!
I loved my 8GB so quickly that I bought a 30GB refurb from NewEgg for $62. How can you beat these prices?
iTunes and Zune?
I just heard a new group called Avenue H. Zune did not have the album so I bought it on iTunes. As soon as the download was complete I opened Zune and it had found the iTunes files. Sweet. I can have both and not choose sides. I use the radio streaming on iTunes anyway. Could you add that Zune?
If you are a music lover then Zune is for you. Once you do the math, and account for the one CD a month download, then the remaining cost is well worth it. I have actually saved money already by listening to a few albums I would have probably bought via Apple and then NOT liked them.
I am very happy with the performance and plan to get the HD version once (if) Microsoft works out the AC3 thing. I would ALSO like my TV Archive to automatically compress the shows I record. This AC3 thing is stopping all of that! Seriously, you are Microsoft. We look up to you to push the envelope of media integration.
See you next Friday night,