Hello from a new Zune 80 Owner!

Hello and welcome to my first blog site. So what prompted me to start this particular blog? Let me first start by saying that I’ve never blogged before, or owned a traditional multimedia device. I’ve never owned an MP3 player or iPod, nor do I even own more than 10 music CDs. I usually listen to the radio only while I’m driving, and even then I can’t find anything I like (who does?).

What I have owned and used over the last 6 years are various Pocket PC devices primarily for storing business contacts and calendar appointments. With my latest Pocket PC (Dell Axim x50v), I’ve extended it’s usefulness to include watching AVI movie files on plane trips and reading mobile-formatted news web pages in bed before I go to sleep. So in a sense, I’ve used my Dell Axim as a crude-multimedia device. As of today, it seems that the Pocket PC devices are dying off in favor of Smartphone devices, so there’s very few vendors making them these days. Although my Dell Axim has a beautiful hi-res (640×480) VGA screen totally suitable for viewing AVI movie files, it does take a lot of manual effort to copy AVI files from my Desktop PC to the Dell Axim. In fact, my new Vista OS Desktop PC won’t seem to sync with my Dell Axim any more (because it requires the use of the “Windows Mobile Device Center” software) so my Dell’s functionality is now quite limited.

Over the years I’ve noticed web sites have “Podcasting” links and have heard people refer to podcasts, but I never really looked into them. It wasn’t until I noticed Ronald D. Moore’s podcasts for Battlestar Galactica that I began to looking into podcasting. Now on the surface, a podcast appears to be simply an audio mp3 file, but the true power of a podcast is the associated podcasting sync software. Having “RSS Feed agregator” software constantly monitoring subscribed podcasts and update them on your Desktop PC or device automatically is a wonderful feature not found on my Dell Axim Pocket PC. With my new interest in podcasts, I began looking into devices such as the iPod and Zune.

After reading some magazine and online reviews regarding the 2nd generation Microsoft Zune devices, I started to look deeper in how the Zune worked, it’s capabilties and features, and whether it would meet my needs as a podcast device. As it turns out, the Zune 80 appeared to be what I was looking for– a device to replace my Dell Axim for watching video movies and for subscribing to various podcasts. The thing that really convinced me to get a Zune, was when I downloaded the Zune software from zune.net and installed it on my Desktop PC. Although I didn’t own a Zune device, I was able to see and test out the Zune desktop PC software which gave me a feel for the ease of use and capabilities of the Zune. I could see the numerous free audio and video podcasts available just by subscribing through the Zune Software. Podcast updates, etc. are all done automatically when connecting a Zune device to a Desktop PC.

In addition to these capabilities, the Zune also has a built-in FM Radio and WiFi for wireless syncing to a home WiFi system. This means I could be sitting on my living room couch and wireless sync podcast content on my Desktop PC. What also as really nice, was the new interface for the Zune which looked so “non-microsoft” (actually, more like an Apple iPod!). In fact, I wonder if the OS for the Zune is some derivative of Linux.

With Christmas approaching, I decided that asking my wife for a Zune as a present would be my best bet (and painless method) to getting one. Thus as of Dec 25th at 7:35 am I became a proud owner of a new Zune 80 gb device. Being the nerdy engineer that I am, I immediately began lurking around the various Zune online forums and web sites trying to learn as much as possible about using the Zune effectively. Particularly, how to convert my existing AVI movie files to the required WMV format for the Zune.

So to give back to those in my same situation, I decided to create this blog site to document my findings and offer comments and tips as a new Zune user. I’ll first start out with my initial impressions, followed by my procedure for converting movie files to WMV format for the Zune. I’ll also try to post my comments on a regular basis so others can learn from my findings, mistakes, etc. So, welcome to my first attempt at blogging and I hope you will find some useful information!

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