For a while now, I’ve been listening to the BBC radio on my MP3 player – even wrote a program to download the audio of various programmes and convert them from RealAudio to MP3 so that I can listen to them on the bus or in my car on the way to and from work. First it was a 512MB Creative Muvo, then a Sandisk Sansa at 2GB.
Then on my birthday, my wife surprised me with a 30GB Zune, just what I wanted. I know there are other more recent models, but I can’t justify the expense of a 120GB model, and the others are too small of a display to be interesting. The Zune HD seems like it would be perfect, but I bet it’ll be too expensive for me to justify.
I really enjoy the Zune, and it solves many of the problems I’ve hated about the Sansa – the biggest being, as I described before, that it requires me to install (and carefully watch for sneaky encroachment) Quicktime, and to run the video/photo converter as an administrator.
So, now that the Zune solves the big problems, I’m starting to become aware of the less horrifying aspects of media player ownership.
Here are the first few little problems (note that this isn’t entirely insurmountable):
Like I said, those are the first few problems I’ve encountered.
Most of these problems seem to be solved by turning my recorded radio programmes into podcasts. Apparently you do this by moving the MP3 files into the podcast directory prior to syncing, and by changing the ID3 Genre tag to “Podcast”. That’s certainly far better, but there are still more problems I’ve encountered with that:
So, the next solution set would be to publish an RSS feed.
Unfortunately, this leads to the next failure.
Other problems I’ve experienced are DRM-like, and we all know that I find DRM to be hugely objectionable. Specifically, I can’t transfer any IFC programmes onto my Zune from my Windows Vista Media Center PC, because apparently they’re all tagged as “copyright”. Note that’s my Media Center PC, transferring to my Zune so that I can watch programming recorded from my DirecTV subscription – no theft involved there, I paid for that content, but can not watch it in my chosen locale or medium.
I can only hope that someone at Microsoft reads this post, and reassures me that they’re going to do better with the release of the ZuneHD – and, because I almost certainly can’t afford a ZuneHD (although anyone who knows me will tell you how excited I’ve been about OLEDs for the last year or so), I hope that many of these improvements are back-ported to my lowly Zune 30. I’d be happy to expound on any of these points to get them addressed.
Oh, and if you ask – I would definitely and whole-heartedly recommend getting a Zune. I know that I’m going to be buying one for my wife as soon as I can find it at the right price (I’m hoping for a Woot-off or perhaps a bag of crap containing a Zune]. All the problems I’ve outlined above are really minor and piddly, but it’s these kind of tweaks that turn a merely good product into a great product. I only complain about them because the Zune is so close to perfection for me, it can be fixed with relatively little effort. The Sansa and its software were so far from perfection that it seems likely that the development team totally don’t “get it”. [The Creative Muvo was actually pretty much perfect for what was achievable at the time.]
So, am I missing any obvious tricks for my Zune? Can I get the BBC programmes on it in a better way? [Yes, I know about the BBC podcasts, but there are shows that the BBC just don’t podcast.]