Zune Video Specs

I come across a lot of forum postings where converted video files are transcoding when syncing, or file just won’t sync to the Zune device. If you follow my instructions on the Video Conversion page, you should be able to create high-quality videos (WMV format) with no transcoding during syncing.

Below are the exact details of the video file format for the Zune (so far as I was able to research from Microsoft’s web site, forum postings, etc). If you venture beyond these maximum limits, your video file will probably undergo transcoding and reconvert during syncing with your Zune.


2nd Generation Zune Devices (Zune 4/8/80 GB)

Windows Media Video (WMV)

Video Settings:

Codec: Windows Media Video 9
Simple Profile – up to 320×240, 10 frames per second and 1.5 Mbps
Main Profile – up to 720×480, 30 frames per second and 3 Mbps
Main Profile – 720×576 pixels resolution (up to 25 frames per second) and ?? Mbps
Constant Bit Rate (CBR) or Variable Bit Rate (VBR)

Audio Settings:

Codec: Windows Media Audio 9.0 or higher
Up to 192 kbps audio bit rate, 44.1 kHz sample rate, stereo, CBR

Note: High-Definition (HD) WMV files will sync with transcoding

MPEG-4 (MP4/M4V)

Video Settings:

Part 2 Simple Profile with AAC audio
Up to 2.5 Mbps peak video rate
720×480 pixels resolution (up to 30 frames per second)
720×576 pixels resolution (up to 25 frames per second)

Note: High-Definition (HD) MPEG-4 files will sync with transcoding

H.264 Video

Video Settings:

Baseline Profile with AAC Audio
Up to 2.5 Mbps peak video bit rate
720×480 pixels resolution (up to 30 frames per second)
720×576 pixels resolution (up to 25 frames per second)

High-Definition (HD) H.264 files will sync with transcoding


Files will transcode when syncing


1st Generation Zune Devices (Zune 30 GB)

Windows Media Video (WMV)

Video Settings:

Codec: Windows Media Video 9
Simple Profile – up to 320×240, 10 frames per second and 1.5 Mbps
Main Profile – up to 720×480, 30 frames per second and 3 Mbps
Constant Bit Rate (CBR) or Variable Bit Rate (VBR)
Up to 800 kbps average video bit rate

High-Definition (HD) WMV files transcode during syncing

MPEG-4 (MP4/M4V)

Files will transcode when syncing

H.264 Video

Files will transcode when syncing


Files will transcode when syncing


The main source for this data is from Zune.net on this page.


37 thoughts on “Zune Video Specs

  1. Miranda says:


    I have been interested in HD and I’m starting to get into it.

    I have a 37″ Viewsonic 1080i LCD HDTV and want to play back high definition files through my Zune on my tv. I noticed that the 80GB Zune is the only want compatible with the component cable through the Zune dock, so how do I encode my files into an HD compatible format. I am guessing that I would change the video resolution from 320×240 to 720×480 and 30 fps, but what about the video bit rate, the zune website says to use 3mbps, but now is that the video bit rate I use or the max bit rate?If it is the max bit rate then what should I set the video bit rate at?

    What makes the video file HD? is it just the resolution that it’s being displayed at or do I need an actual HD encoder? Right now, I don’t use windows media encoder because it seems to have quite a few issues with letting me encode avi, mkv, divx, ogm and vob files for some reason, so I use Encode360 and it will encode all those file formats and never seems to give me any trouble and it will also let me create a batch list of items and I just let it run overnight when I’m sleeping! 🙂

    Any help would be greatly appreciated from those who have encoded HD files before. Thanks!

  2. zunetips says:

    I haven’t worked with HD video, so I can’t suggest anything. All I know, is that the specs for the Zune states that an HD video file will transcode (reconvert) when you sync it to your Zune (which could take hours to complete). After the transcoding, I believe the resultant video file on your Zune will no longer be HD.

  3. Miranda says:

    Well…that’s not necessarily true. I did a HD file test by converting 4 different types of the same file. I converted a movie (Mission Impossible 3) into 4 different files, The first file was a basic zune format video file: 320×240, 30 fps, 128 audio bit rate, 500kbps video bit rate and in .wmv format. The other three files were 720×480, 30 fps, 128kbps audio bit rate and were in .wmv format. The only difference between them is the video bit rate. The first one is 500kbps, the second one is 1500kbps(1.5mbps) and the 3rd is 3000kbps(3mbps). I then added them to the zune, which didn’t take any longer than 5 minutes. They played back on my TV pretty well. There wasn’t much of a difference between the 720×480 videos except the file size. I noticed the higher the video bit rate, the larger the file would be. As far as quality between them obviously the 720×480 videos looked a lot greater over the 320×240 one. Now as for the 720×480 goes, the 3mbps one looked the best, the 1.5mbps looked good and the 500kbps seemed kind of stretched and scratchy, obviously due to the fact that I increased the resolution without increasing the bit rate. I guess I would keep the bit rate at 1.5mbps so that the file size isn’t outrageous, its a decent file size and still looks great, just not sure if it’s considered HD, although it was running in 480p. The only problem was that it took forever to convert the video file into that format, almost 3 times than usual.

    If anyone knows anything that would help, that would be greatly appreciated! 🙂

  4. Victor says:

    Hey man!

    thank god i found your tips. I’m a proud owner of a 1st gen 30G Zune.

    I use cucusoft dvd to zune suit to batch convert the episodes of a series contained on a DVD. I save up time by using this software, because u don’t need to decript the file first and then convert it to wmv.

    It contains 3 options, WM7, WM8 and WM9. WM7 is the fastest option, WM9 is the slowest with a dramatic difference in the conversion speed. Is there a way to avoid zune software’s transcoding of the voncerted file using WM7? WM9 takes ages.


  5. zunetips says:

    Victor: The Zune devices require the use of WM9 for the video codec. The older codecs will cause transcoding. There’s no way around it. Also, Cucusoft does indeed decode your video source file before doing the conversion to WMV format. It does this and the conversion in one-step, and is easy to use for most people. The only issue would be tht Cucusoft is a commercial product that you have to purchase. For those who don’t want to go through the two step process of ripping the DVD files to a VOB file and then converting the VOB file to WMV format, buying and using a commercial converter is a good option.

  6. Victor says:

    Too bad, WM9 is really slow compared to wm7.

    U know this tool named, “Zsuite”, which is supposed to expand zune’s compatibility and it makes it work even with WM11?

    It’s found here, i’ve been member of that site for a while. U think this mod can make zune compatible with more formats so that it doesn’t transcode files?


  7. MNSearcher says:

    Grrr I’ve been using Xilisoft Video Converter for my nephews iPod Touch. And it has been working great. Yesterday my Zune arrived and ever video that I convert to wmv format, the sound is very very tinny sounding.

    I’ve tried the zune MP4 format, but the zune software doesn’t recognize it. I’ve tried the Windows 9 Encoder….the batch encocder runs for about 10 minutes on a file and exports a 9kb file. But doesn’t encode anything. I’ve tried it on 3 computers. Grrrrrr

    I tried funning the encoder program manually…..on the 2nd pass…it just loads with errors and doesn’t convert.

    I’m trying to convert simple Divx tv shows to my zune. I thought the first time I tried this it was my software and returned the Zune. Now I’m just starting to wonder if the Zune isn’t the way to go. Encoding for the Touch was so simple.

    I hope you can help out


  8. zunetips says:

    MNSearcher: I’m 90% sure your problem is with the video and audio codecs installed on your system. I suggest you do a search of this web blog for “codec” and review the pages that appear. You will probably need to remove all your questionable codecs and replace them with different ones.

  9. Lauren Glenn says:

    Use Handbrake and turn on iPod ATOM on the main screen.

    This is the profile I use:

    Under Advanced:

    I set the width to 480, height to 320, and encode to H264/AAC.

    It hasn’t failed so far.

  10. Lauren Glenn says:

    Keep in mind that I have a Zune 120. I think the Zune 80 has the same ability to encode to H264.

  11. hello all, hope youre well. just wanted to thank you for posting such a great tute, im a new owner of the ZUNE 120 and this intel was definately needed. i also wanted to thank Lauren Glenn for her input and kindness of sharing, as im familiar with using Handbrake for making my old PSP HD movie files, which also looked great streaming through my XBOX 360 on a 46″ HDTV. good to know i can change a couple of settings and get similar results that im used to.

    i do have one question concerning whats the highest resolution that one could encode to and the ZUNE will both play native and when streaming to TV? thanks so much yet again, everyone take care.

  12. …for example could i encode to 720×480 H.264 or WMV and this syncs to my ZUNE without transcoding? thanks again.

  13. zunetips says:

    Jabari: From the guide info above, all High-Def video files will require transcoding during syncing. So whether your video is WMV, MPEG-4, or H.264 format any of them in HD will require transcoding.

    So far as video resolution, you can go to 720×480 but you need to stay within the specified video frame rate for the different formats. Of course, you can experiment and see which exact settings works best for you.

  14. Eric Contreras says:

    Hey, I have a question. I currently own 30gb Zune and was wondering why some WMV files won’t sync with it. Also, why do some of my movies come out all blocky and heavily pixelated? Is the screen size or resolution? What settings do I need to put it at? I am thinking of switching up and getting the 120 gb. Thanks for any help.

  15. anonymous says:

    i can confirm that my videos (mostly Xvid/MP3 in AVIs) transcoded to H.264 Baseline profile – (USING Mainconcept H.264 encoder) (720 x 480) NTSC / AAC audio in MP4 container sync in the Zune software without transcoding. Most other H.264 encoders (Nero, QuickTime, Elecard) and the crapware converters don’t allow selecting the H.264 profile. x264-based apps (MeGUI, StaxRip) are too complex and have hrd to configure settings and poor UI. NeroVision has its own non-standard custom profiles. What I have not been the able to figure out is: is Zune H.264 support only there for 720 x 480 or any resolution UP TO 720 x 480? By any comparison, the Zune software is less restrictive and fussy about WMV.

  16. zunetips says:

    Eric: If you’re WMV files don’t fall within the Zune specs (as mentioned in this page), it won’t sync. The blockyness, pixelation, etc. are also governed by your video settings.

  17. Vicky says:

    You are incredible. Thank you for your conversion walk-through. It’s just what I needed since I was looking at how to have the greatest quality of video for the least amount of space.

  18. zunetips says:

    Vicky: You’re welcome. I’m glad you found the information useful. Good luck with your video conversions for the Zune!

  19. Janette says:

    The Xiliosoft settings I use for my 30 GB Zune are 1500kbps. Will this setting work for the Windows Media Encoder?

  20. zunetips says:

    Janette: Yes, you can define 1500 kbps for your video bit rate with Windows Media Encoder. I normally use 700 kbps with my videos (to save on file size) and they seem to look ok on my Zune 80. However, I’ve also used 1000 kbps for 640×480 resolution videos when I plan to watch them on a TV from my Zune.

  21. Zune80GBVid says:

    I have an 80GB Zune I have been using “ImTOO Zune Video Converter 3” to convert my videos. Well it hasnt been working but I think Im doing something wrong.. Can anyone help me out.. Maybe a better software to use? Or the specs that I should be putting when converting my video’s?
    Im converting from AVI to either WMV or MPEG-4, Im not even sure if my 80Zune works with MPEG-4!!!
    Please help!

  22. Carola says:

    I have a Zune 30 gig. I have converted my DVD’s to wmv and they meet all the formating guidelines. All of a sudden some of the wmv’s stopped showing in my Zune software (which is up to date version 3.0). Also, some newly converter files do not show up (they meet all the bitrate and everything else for a wmv) I am getting very frustrated! What can I do?

  23. zunetips says:

    What are you using to do the video conversion? I had a similar problem with using DVRMSToolbox, and it was a result of a metadata tag being set to indicate the file was protected.

  24. Carola says:

    I am using DVD Shrink to rip the DVD’s and have all along. I am using DVDCopy 5 to convert them, it has a conversion type of WVM-Zune just for the Zune. Is there a way to change the metadata tag? It is just weird how it worked then now it doesn’t. Also, I recently downloaded the newest MS Updates, I wonder if that has anything to do with it? I am leaving to go out of town and wanted to load my Zune before I left this afternoon…..

  25. zunetips says:

    Carola: It’s hard to say what is causing the problem with your video file and your Zune. I would have to examine one of your “bad” video files to determine which possible metadata tag could be causing the problem. Do you have a way of uploading a small test video file to a free file server site (like Adrive.com or filefactory.com)?

  26. Potter Smith says:

    my zune30 is not sync video files i can convert 10 different videos from 30secs to 45min and 3-5 of them will work.everything is up to date it give me an error code saying something is wrong with the software but ive reinstalled serveal time. at first i thought it was long videos but then it let a couple of ones that are 40 min long on my zune. when it syncs it will have the percent go up slow and when it get to a point(changes everytime) it jumps to 50% then to 100% and goes under the not added section. i just got this a couple of weeks ago a love it i have almost every game on it and every thing but its just the movies that give me a problem. i mostly use ZuneConverter1.1 which is some freeware but i have tried tons of other converters that people in post claim is good but this freeware i got accualy works better than all of them i think. any help would be nice i would just like to put all my videos on my zune and ive only used 2gb so far someone Pleaze help thanks gotenisdabomb@hotmail.com

  27. zunetips says:

    Potter: Are you saying that the issue you are having is syncing your converted video files to your Zune 30? What format are the converted video files? Are they wmv?

    Did you say that you can sync *some* of your converted videos, but not all of them?

    Do you see these videos listed in the Zune Software on your PC?

  28. Potter Smith says:

    yes i can view all the videos in the zune software itself no problem but it is real picky on what ones it will sync with. i usally format them into wmv ver.1, but ive tried all of them (wmv ver.1, wmv ver.2, MP4(h.264/acc), MP4(MPEG-4/acc). Ive had videos where they wouldnt go on and then one time it went and i hooked it back up and it took it off in the resync from when you hook it back up cuz i took it out of the libery. i turned that off though b/c i dont keep file on the computer b/c it slows it down. i cant figure out what wrong so any help would bvery helpful, thanks

    Potter Smith-gotenisdabomb@hotmail.com

  29. zunetips says:

    Potter: Boy, I’m not sure what’s going on in your situation. I’m guessing your PC is running either WinXP or Vista. You might try re-installing the Zune software on your PC to see if that is the problem. Here’s what I would do:

    1) First, make sure you back up your current music and video files to a safe place.
    2) Run the program called “Unzoone” to completely un-install the Zune software from your PC (you can Google “unzoone” to find it). This program will remove all files and registry settings associated with the Zune Software.
    3) Re-boot your PC.
    4) Download the latest version of the Zune Software from the zune.net site and install it on your PC. Follow the instructions for connecting and setting up syncing with your Zune 30.

    Hopefully, that will fix the problem. The only real issue I see with syncing video files, is that they are not in the proper video format or if the file is in wmv format, it might have a metadata tag set to “protected” which won’t sync.

  30. Potter Smith says:

    ill try that tonight i just read online that xp might have problems with zune and found this very detailed download that installs the proper reg and all that stuff. i let you guys know if it works or not if it dont ill try that up there if it does work ill type in the address for the site, i hope it works and its a detailed site with pictures of every step so ill let you know soon. just waiting for my grandpa to get of the computer lol at my moms right now w/o my zune:(

  31. Tim says:

    Just wanted to jump in and say thanks to zunetips for not only explaining how to convert video files for my Zune 8 but also adding the links to software that you mention as using.
    It sure makes it alot easier than surfing Google to find the right tools.
    Thanks again zunetips.

  32. zunetips says:

    Tim: You’re welcome. Hope you enjoy watching your videos on your Zune 8!

  33. odoggz says:

    Thanks for this, I seriously appreciated it.

  34. Peter says:

    Hey, i have a 16Gb Zune HD. It says that besides outputting HD videos to TV, that it also supports HD vidoe files on the actuall device right? so i download an HD video from youtube wihth a youtube downloader, but when i try to drag n drop the file into the video section of the zune program(on computer), it doesnt want to go in. And im assuming by not accepitng the video, its lying about supporting HD files. Please tell me what you think.

  35. zunetips says:

    The Zune HD support WMV formatted files. Your YouTube video is most likely in FLV format, and thus the Zune HD can’t read it.

  36. Joshua says:

    @ Zunetips: You can easily convert youtube videos using a site called (keepvid.com) to mp4/HD, then they can be watchable on the Zune HD. I have a question though. I have an avi video file, (roughly around 700mb) in the Zune software. However, the syncing is incredibly slow. It takes maybe 10 minutes to since to 1-2%. What could be the issue? I’ve already done a reset on the Zune and reinstalled the software. And still no luck. Running Windows 7.

  37. zunetips says:

    The Zune HD will only sync videos with very specific settings and format (mp4 and wmv). Since you’re trying to sync an avi file, the Zune Software on your PC is trying to transcode (convert) the video to the proper format. As such, it is taking a very, very long time to sync. If your video file was in the proper format, it would take under 10 seconds to sync.

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