From reading the various Zune forum postings, it seems the hottest topic is DVD and video file conversions. Fortunately, there’s lots of freeware and commercial software available to do this, and it seems everyone has their favorite. What gets me, is those Zuners who are so adamant that their favorite software tool is the best and everything else is junk. I see statements from MediaCoder Zealots that say, “NO!!! Don’t use that junk, use MediaCoder. It can convert everything and produces the best videos!”. Or, “Don’t convert to the WMV format, it’s just crap! Use MP4 because it’s better and faster than WMV”. And these zealots seem to exist for all the various video converters and tools.
There’s also a number of Tagging zealots that preach, “dSHARPIE is the best tool for editing meta data, and everybody uses it!”. “Don’t use that junk, it’s too hard to use”.
Understandably, people have their favorite software for their own personal reasons. But to be so evangelical about it and tell everyone that all other tools are “crap” or inferior is so narrow minded and misleading, in my opinion.
From my postings here on my web blog, you can see that I favor Windows Media Encoder for my video conversion process. It’s not the most simplest tool to use, but it works for me the way I want to use it, and I haven’t had any issues with converting my DVDs and video files. So, do I think MediaCoder is crap? No. In fact, I think MediaCoder is a great video conversion tool (especially since it’s free). I also think Handbrake is a nice piece of software. The reason why I don’t use those tools is that I want to create WMV files for my Zune and those tools can’t give me the resultant file that I want.
Also, I prefer WMV files over MP4 files because WMV files have meta data tags that can be edited to categorize my video files (as, TV Shows, Movies, Music Videos, All Videos). MP4 files don’t have such meta tags, so all your videos get lumped into one huge list on the Zune. For some Zuners, that’s not a problem since all they have are DVD movies and they’re ok with all their videos lumped in the same list. I have movies and TV Shows (with different episodes) on my Zune, so having them categorized as such allows me to control how they are grouped and displayed on my Zune screen.
So for editing meta data tags, I use the freeware called TigoTago. Some Zuners think it’s too hard to use, and maybe it is for some. I’ve tried using dSHARPIE, and I think it works well for most applications. What it can’t do, is sort TV episodes correctly on my Zune. It does so by modifying the video file creation date, but that doesn’t seem to work well on my Zune device. The only thing that I’ve found that does work, is editing the meta tag WM_TrackNumber which dSHARPIE can’t do (from what I can tell, but, TigoTago can). So, TigoTago has become my standard tool for editing meta data tags. Do I think dSHARPIE or zMeta are junk programs, too hard to use, slow, etc.? No, I don’t. I’m sure both of them meets the needs of many people, but for me they don’t. Honestly, if I didn’t need or want to have my TV show episodes sorted, I would probably use dSHARPIE or zMeta.
So, my suggestion to anyone looking for video conversion tools or tagging tools is to test them out yourself and pick your favorite. Don’t rely on what you read in a few forum postings as being the gospel truth. Give everything a test drive and select the tool that works best for you!