Emergency Zune Battery Charger

Several years ago, I used my HP iPAQ 1910 Pocket PC device for watching videos while on an plane flight. Just in case I ran out of battery power, I brought along a small battery-powered charger (which took 4-AA batteries) to use as an “extender” so I could continue to use my Pocket PC device. So, I was wondering if a similar device existed for my Zune 80?

After doing some searching, I found several “Emergency Chargers” available for iPods, Zunes, and other devices that can be charged from a 5V USB port. I also came across several sites where people have built their own chargers, which I could do since I’ve got some basic electronic soldering and assembly skills. However, having to find all the required electronic parts and hoping the online instructions are correct dissuaded me from going that route.

Instead, I would opt to buying a commercial charger that is available on the web. Note, that it appears not all USB emergency chargers will charge a Zune 80 device. Apparently, some don’t have the required circuitry to boost the AA-battery power up to voltage requirements for the Zune, so be careful when selecting a charger. Continue reading

Subscribing to Any Podcast

The Zune Marketplace has numerous audio and video podcasts that you can subscribe to, but what if you came across a podcast that wasn’t available on the Marketplace site? For example, let’s say you found a good heath fitness podcast which you wanted to subscribe to… how can you do that for your Zune?

In the Zune Software, you can click on “Collection” and “Podcasts” which will bring up the screen shown below:

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Continue reading

Removing All Content From Your Zune

There may be times when you want to remove all content on your Zune device and start fresh. I did this recently when I got my Zune 80 back from the repair center. To do this, you can connect your Zune to your PC and start up the Zune Software. Next, under the “Settings” and “Device” heading you’ll see a page as shown below:

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If you click on the “Clear All Content” button, every music, video, picture, and podcast file will be erased from your Zune device. This is useful when you want to remove all the preloaded files that come with a new Zune.

Warning: Make sure you have all your music/video/picture files archived in a safe place, as you don’t want to have the Zune software delete them! (Especially if you’ve defined your Zune monitored folders).

Defining Zune Sync Folders

I’ve come across a lot of forum postings by Zune newbies asking how to sync music, picture, and video files to their new Zunes. In my opinion, the easiest way is to set up sync folders on your PC which the Zune Software will monitor and sync the contents. So how do you do this? The graphic image below show the setup page in the Zune Software for defining the sync folders:

(click on image to enlarge it)

You get to this setup screen in your Zune Software under “Settings” and “Software”. Here, you can define one or more monitored folders for Music, Pictures, Video, and Podcasts (individually). Once you do this, you can copy any appropriate file into them to have that file synced with your Zune. Note, that you can’t put a music file (.mp3) in the video sync folder and expect the Zune to sync it. Also, all of these files are being synced, so removing a file from this sync folder will also remove it from your Zune device the next time you sync it.

Have You Check Out a Podcast Lately?

While I was in the process of reloading files to my repaired Zune 80, I cleared out all my old Podcast subscriptions to start fresh. As I was perusing the available podcasts on the Zune Marketplace, I was amazed on the number of audio and video podcasts that were currently available. When I first got my Zune (back in December), I scanned through the podcasts and signed up for about 10 or so, but I’m astounded by the shear number of podcasts that are on the Marketplace now. What’s especially nice, is the number and variety of the video podcasts.

So if you’re wanting to view videos on your Zune but don’t want to mess with video ripping, conversion, etc. I suggest you try subscribing to a few video Podcasts. You can watch Nova science clips, Comedy Central short performances, or nightly news broadcasts. Audio podcasts are also nice if you’re driving a lot in the car, or traveling on a long plane or bus ride. Just be careful about subscribing to too many podcasts, as you may fill up your storage space really quickly!

Zune Syncing Issues

After receiving my refurbished Zune 80 from the Microsoft Repair Center, I began the process of syncing my music, picture, video, and podcast files to it’s empty 80 GB drive. Everything seemed to work smoothly (at first), but then I ran into problems. It seemed that certain music files wouldn’t sync, and my video files would get stuck at “7%” during the syncing process. I tried everything I could think of to correct this: rebooting the Zune device, reinstalling the Zune Software on my PC, rebooting my PC, etc. Nothing seemed to correct this syncing issue. My fear, was that this refurbished Zune unit was defective and I would have to send it back and wait another 2 weeks to get a replacement!

So for the next few hours, I scoured the various Zune forums and Microsoft Knowledge Base looking for a possible solution. It seemed that a few others had the same problem, but I tried all the steps that were recommended for resolution. Ultimately, I concluded that the culprit was most likely a defective USB hub that I was using for my Zune connection.

To reduce the number of wires and cables running from my desk to my PC, I installed a powerstrip and small powered USB hub to the bottom surface of my desk. I then plugged my Zune dock into this USB hub, and it seemed to work fine up until I sent my Zune in for repair. Over the past two weeks, I noticed that my CD Card reader (which was plugged into this USB hub) wasn’t working consistently, and I had to unplug and replug in the USB-to-PC cable for the USB hub to get it working again. So, putting two-and-two together I concluded that the problem may be with this hub. Continue reading

My Zune is back from the Repair Center!

After waiting 18 days, my Zune 80 has finally returned from the Repair Center in Texas. It arrived via FedEx Ground in the same small cardboard box that I was given for the return. Inside, was a well-protected Zune surrounded by fitted foam and a small brown Zune pouch. Also included was a form letter indicating that the repair center replace my unit (instead of fixing it). I’ve scanned this letter and have made it available below:

The replacement Zune looked in pristine condition (just like my original Zune that I sent in), and I verified that it was a different unit by the serial number on the back. So, I couldn’t tell if it was a brand new unit or a refurbished one.

In any case, I began the procedure of upgrading to the latest OS version, followed by removing all the pre-installed audio, video, and podcast files. The next step, was to sync my picture, audio, video, and podcast files to my new Zune (which took all day). As it turned out, my video sync folder had been accumulating new video files from the 18 days of TV show recordings, so I needed to pare it down to fit on my 80 GB Zune.

So far, everything seems to be working ok. I have to admit, it took me about 5 minutes to relearn how all the menus worked on the Zune (I guess I’m getting old), but I seem to be back in business. It sure is nice to have my Zune back, and hopefully I won’t need to send it in for repairs soon!

Because of this experience, it really makes me wonder how fragile the Zune 80 is. Would I have purchased a Zune 80 if I knew it would be prone to failure so easily? Probably not. But then again, where could you buy a large screen video player device with 80 GB of storage space for the price of the Zune 80?