If you’ve read my previous postings, you should know that I use my Zune 80 specifically for watching TV shows that I record on my Vista PC and convert to WMV files. For those who do not have a TV Tuner card as I do, you can also purchase and download video files from the Zune Marketplace. There are a wide variety of videos available, ranging from TV shows to music videos. You can purchase individual episodes of a TV series or buy all the episodes for a specific season. Since I do have a TV Tuner card, I never had a need to purchase videos from the Marketplace.
Now, the Zune 8 GB Christmas gift that I bought for my wife seems to be a big hit, as she was very surprised and happy to get one. I thought she would want to use it for mainly music, however, it seems that she’s been using it more for watching videos such as I do. Of course, she’s not the geeky sci-fi person or history buff that I am, so she certainly wouldn’t like the shows that I typically record and watch. Instead, she likes watching “Ghost Hunters” on Wednesday nights, but, she is often interrupted by my 4 year-old son or simply falls asleep from getting up so early in the morning. Fortunately, she discovered that the Zune Marketplace offers episodes of Ghost Hunters for download to the Zune.
So if you’ve never purchased a video or music title from the Marketplace, here’s how it works:
You need to make your purchase using “tokens” or “credit” for payment. Each video title has a varied token count, but they usually go for around 0.79 tokens (where 1 token = $1.25 US, approximately). Once you make your purchase, the video file(s) will begin to download to your Zune sync folder. If after you download your video files you accidentally delete them, you can re-download them again from the “Purchase History” screen under the Zune Software settings as shown below:
While these files were downloading, I noticed that the file transfer was taking a long time. From my experience, the WMV files that I create are usually 230 MB in size (for a 45 minute show), so I was wondering why each episode was taking so long to download. As it turns out, for each episode two files are downloaded– one for the “Device” and one for the “PC”.
The “Device” version is 320×240 in size, 29 fps, and with a 1258 kbps video bit rate. While the “PC” version is 640×480, 29 fps, 6000 kbps video bit rate. So obviously the PC version is designed for watching on your PC or on your Zune connected to a TV for output. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to not download the PC version, so that is why it seems to take a long time to download one episode. Below are some of the files downloaded for my wife’s Ghost Hunters show:
So you might ask, “why is my wife buying videos when I can record and convert them on my PC?” Well, I do have Vista Media Center set up to record Ghost Hunters (now), but this past Wednesday the SciFi Channel had a Twilight Zone Marathon that preempted the Ghost Hunters’ regular airing schedule. Since my wife couldn’t wait until next week, she decided to go the purchase route and get some episodes on her Zune now. But, she should be set up in the future with my personal “Tivo” system! The only thing now, is that I’ll need to get a bigger hard drive to process and hold all these video files… 🙂