When I first bought my Zune 80, I wanted a docking stand for my desk to hold it while it synced to my desktop PC and charged up. I didn’t want to buy an expensive 2nd-generation dock, so I opted for a 1st-generation dock (designed for the original Zune 30) since they were much cheaper. The only problem, was that the new Zune 80 model was a bit too thick and wouldn’t fit in the dock’s slot very well. To solve that problem, I simply removed the top plate which gave me just enough room for the Zune 80 to fit.
Now that I have a new Zune HD which is much slimmer than the Zune 80, I was able to put the top plate insert back into to the dock and continue to use it for syncing and charging. If I bought a new “v4” dock (designed for the Zune HD) it would cost me $50 US, so I’m certainly getting my money’s worth with the round dock.
In doing a search on Amazon.com, I noticed you can still get this same round dock for $1.99! If you include the $4.49 shipping cost, that brings the total up to $6.48 which is an absolute bargain if you’re looking for a Zune dock. If you prefer the rectangular “v2” dock you can get one for $14.49 (including shipping) also.
If you need an extra Zune USB sync cable, you can get one on Amazon.com for $3.60 (including shipping). A Zune wall charger can be bought for $3.64 from Amazon.com also. A pair of Zune Premium earphones are going for $11.99 including shipping.
So there’s lots of bargains out there online, and fortunately the connectors on all three generation of Zune devices are the same, so you can use the same accessories.
My Zune HD has been working out well for the last week, so I’m very happy with my purchase. I definitely need to get some new accessories, so I started with ordering new earbuds to replace my worn Zune Premium earbuds that originally came with my Zune 80. I really like the fit and sound quality of my Zune earbuds, but the outer wrapping on the wires have started to come off and they now get tangled a lot. So I Googled on the Internet a bit and decided to order the 2XL 2X-002E Spoke Snake Eyes In-Ear Headphones for $15.00 US from Amazon.com. They are inexpensive and got good reviews on the Amazon site.
Also, since I travel frequently for business I decided to look into charger options. On my last trip I forgot my cell phone charger so I tried using my laptop’s USB port to charge my phone (with a mini-USB cable), however, my laptop wasn’t able to output enough current to charge my phone. As such, I decided to order the Griffin PowerBlock Dual Universal AC Charger for $25.00 from Newegg.com. I got this dual port charger so that I can charge both my Zune and cell phone at the same time from a wall outlet.
I was also looking at getting a small case for my Zune HD, but the current choices are limited. So, I’m planning to hold off for a while and see what new cases will popup. It would be cool to get the new docking port so I can watch videos on a large screen TV from my Zune HD, but I think I’ll hold off on that until Christmas. 🙂
With the recent retirement announcement for the current Zune models, it doesn’t surprise me that Microsoft is selling Zune accessories at 50% off. So if you’re looking at getting some accessories for your Zune, here are some items for sale:
- Zune Premium Headphones $19.99 ($39.99)
- Zune Home AV Pack $29.99 ($59.99)
- Zune Leather Case 4/8 GB $14.99 ($29.99)
- Zune Car Pack $34.99 ($69.99)
- Zune Dock Pack $19.99 ($39.99)
- Zune AC Adapter $14.99 ($29.99)
- Zune Cable Pack $14.99 ($29.99)
Although these accessories are for the current, recently discontinued Zunes, items such as the Premium headphones and AC Adapter should also work for the new Zune HD devices. I really like the Premium headphones, so I might order another set at this reduced price.
Another issue that I was having was my Zune remote that I use with my 1st Generation round dock. For some reason, this remote seemed to stop working. I tried resetting the remote by opening and closing the battery cover, but it still didn’t work. I also pulled out the flat sliver-oxide battery and checked the voltage level using a multimeter, and it showed 3V left.
In any case, I read in a forum posting that a low battery level may cause the remote to stop working, so I went down to my local Radio Shack store and bought the CR2032 battery for the remote. Once I replaced the battery, the remote worked again! So, the moral of the story is replace the battery if your Zune Remote doesn’t appear to be working (no matter what you think the remaining battery level is!).
I was at my local Target store this morning picking up a pair of jeans and some badly needed socks, and I noticed the end aisle shelf containing the no-brainer men’s gifts (items such as nail clippers, wallets, key chains, flashlights, etc). Usually, these items are fairly inexpensive (and of low quality) and only appear during the Christmas shopping season. What caught my eye, were a few items that fell under the category of generic MP3 player accessories. There was a small “dock” that was basically a speaker with a small amplifier and a slot to hold a generic Mp3 player device. There was also a white colored pair of ear buds, and a small FM Transmitter for sending MP3 audio signals to a FM radio. All of these items were priced at $10 US, which were now selling for $5.00 (50% discount). I’ve always thought about playing my Zune music through the speakers in my car, so I decided to pry open my wallet and spend the five bucks for the FM Transmitter. Below is the packaging for this item:
This small, white transmitter runs on two AAA batteries or uses power from a cigarette lighter power cord (included). The unit also has 4 defined FM Channels to choose from for the signal transmission. So to use this device, you simply insert the mini plug into the head phone jack on your Zune, turn on the device, and select one of the preset FM channels. Continue reading
After all this time, Microsoft finally brings online their own Internet store. Seems strange that it took so long for Microsoft to catch up with the vast majority of online vendors to sell their wares. You probably won’t find huge discounts, but at least they now have an Internet presence with their products. 🙂 Along with selling software, they also have Zunes for sale with associated Microsoft accessories. Personally, I would search Amazon.com for Zune accessories (both Microsoft and 3rd-party manufacturer) for the best deals.
For the 3rd year now, my family goes on a 4-hour drive to a friend’s beach house on the Washington coast. It’s a nice short vacation where my wife, son, and two nieces have fun playing in the ocean and visiting the shops and arcade at the local beach town. Being in such a remote location, the beach house doesn’t have good TV reception or cable TV service, so we’re stuck watching DVDs on a 2nd-hand DVD player that is not quite working right (it seems that all “beach houses” or “cabins” have such defective equipment).
This year, I came prepared with my trusty Zune 80 and AV cables in tow. I knew that my nieces like the TV show Family Guy, so I recorded a few episodes along with the movie School of Rock for us to watch during the evenings at the house. When I converted the DVR-MS video recordings (from my TV Tuner card) to WMV format for my Zune, I had the DVRMSToolbox software remove all the commercials to avoid the need of skipping through them. I also converted the videos to these specifications:
- Audio and Video: CBR (Constant Bit Rate)
- 30 fps
- Video Rate: 700 kbps
- Audio Rate: 128 kbps, 44 kHz
For the Family Guy episodes, I used 320×240 screen resolution, and for the School of Rock video I used 640×480.
To watch the videos on the TV set at the beach house, I connected my composite AV cable to the headphone jack on my Zune 80, and connected the other end of the cable to the RCA inputs on the TV set. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my wireless Zune remote control so I had to do all the video selecting, volume, etc. on the Zune device itself (not a big deal).
As it turned out, both the 320×240 and 640×480 videos looked very good on the TV set. In fact, I would say they looked just as good as any of the DVDs we played on the attached DVD player. Aside from the fact that my nieces thought it was pretty cool to play videos on the TV from my Zune, using my Zune as a portable DVD player actually worked out great. So, I highly recommend using a Zune in this capacity if you’re traveling on vacation with your family and need a small DVD player device to keep the kiddies entertained.