Zune owners: You answered my questions!

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I read that the Zune 2.5 firmware update added gapless playback.

I couldn't find an official source, but I saw on a random message board post that the Zune gapless playback Just Works (tm), as opposed to the iPod gapless playback, which requires you to tag tracks as "gapless playback" tracks inside of iTunes (pain in the ass!)

Can any Zune owners confirm that gapless playback works, and works well (not just with MP3s encoded with certain encoders)?

I just had to run a single update in iTunes, and that made music that needed the gapless playback work perfectly. But I have no idea how the Zune does it.

Another question: Does the Zune gracefully move from PC to PC, or is it fussy when synched with more than one PC?

Mine has the 2.5 firmware and I just tested two albums I ripped to mp3 before I had the zune and one that I burned with the zune software itself.

It works fine in one album that was ripped ages ago with Exact Audio Copy and encoded with LAME, fine with the one album ripped with the zune software, and not so good in one that was ripped with CDEx. The CDEx album was a live album where there's crowd noise that very obviously blends the tracks together and there was always a clear stop when one track ended and the other started.

I've not synched mine with more than one PC so I have no idea.

What video codecs does Zune support?
Xvid love?

WMV, MP4, and H.264

I'm pretty happy now that Marketplace has some TV shows up for sale. Now all it needs is a reasonable movie rental service.

*Legion* wrote:

Another question: Does the Zune gracefully move from PC to PC, or is it fussy when synched with more than one PC?

Very graceful... it simply connects as a guest device, allowing you access to that library but not requiring it to be tied to that PC...

Also, you can register 3 zunes on an account and that account (if subscribing with zune pass) can be activated on 3 computers as well.

UPDATE: I joined the social!

The Zune becomes the latest in my long line of portable MP3 players.

First, the MP3 CD-playing RioVolt SP250:

IMAGE(http://www.baber.com/baber/gifs/mp3/rio_sp250.jpg)

Then the wonderful Archos Jukebox Recorder 20:

IMAGE(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5195BJJ7DPL._SL500_AA280_.jpg)

Then a 10GB 3rd-gen iPod, followed later by a 30GB 4th-gen, and 60GB black 5th-gen iPod.

IMAGE(http://farm1.static.flickr.com/38/87139407_4878d8cdcb.jpg?v=0)

(Amazingly, that's someone else's Flickr picture that I found on Google Images - the exact same series of iPods as my three)

And now, the 80GB red Zune:

IMAGE(http://images.amazon.com/images/G/01/electronics/cat-1000/zune/RedZune2_Shadow_Crop.jpg)

After three iPods (and some time with my wife's current-gen iPod Classic), I like a few things about the Zune:

1) The browsing interface has the iPod beat. The Zune mixes horizontal and vertical browsing very nicely, avoiding the iPod situation of selecting menu items 3 or 4 levels deep, then having to "back out" step by step to get back to make another selection. To browse genres on the Zune, you just scroll horizontally to flip through the genres.

2) The nice long vertical screen helps with browsing, too.

3) The Zune plays nicely with my collection. I am a meticulous MP3 tagger and organizer, yet I had well-formed MP3s that iTunes refused to add to its collection.

4) The one thing that keeps me tied to players like the iPod and Zune rather than old USB mass storage devices like my old Archos is podcast handling. If you've ever looked at how podcast creators actually tag their podcasts, you'll soon realize that it's a mess. A good podcast handler has to simply ignore the MP3 tags and use the feed info instead (god, I remember using particular podcatchers just to get the feature of being able to override the garbage tags that the podcasters tag their files with). The Zune's podcast browsing is fantastic. I love that selecting a particular episode brings up an info screen with the description field, date, and running length. On the iPod, the description field is buried away, and I never, ever glanced at them because they were so inconvenient to get to. The Zune delivers that info in a logical place (right before you press Play). It means one more button press to launch the track, but it's very logical, fits with the rest of the interface, and is really no added hassle.

5) FM tuner beats no tuner. I wish for an AM tuner though.

6) Gapless has worked out well for me so far.

7) I'm using the Zune software on my MacBook in a VMWare Fusion virtual machine install of Vista SP1, and it's worked well.

8) I can turn Shuffle on without having to back out ALL THE WAY to the root level menu to access Settings like on the iPod.

9) The Zune has an option to not have compilation artists show up in the Artists section. THANK YOU. The iPod has a Compilations menu where you can browse compilations, but the individual artists still overflow the artist browsing screen.

I do wish that genre browsing went Genre > Artist > Album, but so far that's about the only minor complaint I have. Well, that and no Linux-native support. The iPod is supported in Linux with libgpod, but while libgpod has added gapless tagging support, most client apps that use libgpod haven't incorporated this yet (Amarok hasn't, and that's about the only one that matters). The VMWare setup is working extremely well for me, though.

9) The Zune has an option to not have compilation artists show up in the Artists section. THANK YOU. The iPod has a Compilations menu where you can browse compilations, but the individual artists still overflow the artist browsing screen.

Oh thank god. I know what I'm asking for for Christmas.

OK... I'll do it...

Welcome to the Social...

But seriously... Glad to hear it's working out for you, I love mine and it has served me well. I avoided iPods for years, mainly due to my distaste for apple as a company. Lets not get into that. My zune came from my wife as a christmas gift, and I have been really enjoying it's list of features and usability ever since.

They have so much hate for the Zune on the podcast that can't be anything but left over from the 1st gen model, which wasn't even made by microsoft anyways.

*Legion* wrote:

UPDATE: I joined the social!

Gush, gush gush...

Man, I have a 5th gen video iPod as well, and I guess I just don't see much point in going from that to a Zune. You, obviously, had a big list of stuff that justified it for you, so hey. Whatever works.

Now, go out and "squirt" a few innocent bystanders.

EDIT:

Oh, and go download my podcast

My 5th gen iPod died. I wouldn't have spent money to replace it otherwise.

ALL of my iPods died. They're nice devices but they really are total sh*te for longevity.

Hell, I once made the world's only 10GB 4th-gen iPod by cracking open my guts-dead 3rd gen iPod and my hard drive-dead 4th gen iPod, and married the still-working 10GB drive with the still-working 4th gen guts. I dubbed it "Frankenpod" and gave it to Logan. Eventually, it died too.

My 5th gen's dock connector and hard drive both slowly died together, coalescing into what appeared to be a simultaneous final death.

My 5th gen iPod video is on the way out too. Headphone jack stopped working, I got a new one and slapped it in there. Now only the right channel works.

I might have to take a second look at the Zune. I know my brother likes his.

That would be why I'm looking.
My 5th gen has a wanky Hard disk so I have to make sure the spindle is on the outside of the disk by selecting certain songs before I sync.

I've actually been considering picking up a Zune in the near future. My Creative Zen Vision has served me well over three years, but it's starting to behave erratically, and Creative has stopped making hard drive-based players altogether.

I'm hoping to replace my 20gig 4th gen ipod sometime in the near future. I wouldn't mind getting away from apple, so I'll have to take a closer look at the Zune. Is it comfortable to watch video on a screen this small? And how's the battery life when watching video?

boogle wrote:

That would be why I'm looking.
My 5th gen has a wanky Hard disk so I have to make sure the spindle is on the outside of the disk by selecting certain songs before I sync.

If you're the adventurous type, and are out of warranty, you could try replacing the hard drive yourself, or even upgrading to a larger disk. I plan to mess around with my Zune some after it's out of warranty (there's some kind of gap in the seal around the screen and dust has gotten on the actual LCD screen behind the glass... It's annoying). Could be disastrous. Could be fun. We'll see.

I bought the 30 GB Zune when it was new. I ended up extremely disappointed when it's support for certain formats didn't work well. I had numerous podcasts hard-lock the device. I returned one, tried a second one, and ended up with the same problem. I returned that and settled for a 5.5 gen 30GB iPod.

That lasted for a while, but when the 2nd gen Zune hit the market, I was interested, big time. I didn't really need the extra space, but say what you will for Apple design, my iPod was less than a year old and looked like I'd dragged it through a warzone. Scratches, scuff marks, all kinds of crap everywhere. Aside from the dust behind the glass panel, and a few fingerprints which come off with a little Windex, my Zune looks as good as it did the day I pulled it out of the box. Interface improvements sold me even more on it, and I wouldn't go back to an iPod if you gave me one for free.

Well, I won my ipod in a raffle so no warranty.
This is the ipod's second HD, as the first one broke and I salvaged this drive from a friends with a broken screen.

My Zune and my WPA2-encrypted wireless network don't get along.

I know WPA2 support is new for Zune, and if wifi was a big deal to me, I'd figure out a way to accommodate it.

*Legion* wrote:

My Zune and my WPA2-encrypted wireless network don't get along.

I know WPA2 support is new for Zune, and if wifi was a big deal to me, I'd figure out a way to accommodate it.

I used to use the wireless sync, but honestly, you're better off just using the cable. It's so much faster it's ridiculous. Especially when you're getting ready for work and you want to make sure your latest podcasts have synced.

nsmike wrote:

I used to use the wireless sync, but honestly, you're better off just using the cable.

Yeah, I read that somewhere, that's why lack of connectivity isn't a big deal to me.

I'm about ready to throw my zune in the garbage and go get an iPod.
Ever since the software update (2.5?), all the features for podcasts are just hosed.
I've tried resetting the device. I've tried a fresh install of the software. I've tried starting over on my Collection.

Here's what happens:
1. Randomly, a podcast episode will get synched to my Zune more than once. Sometimes twice, sometimes thrice, rarely 4 times. So under GWJ, I'll see Episode XYZ 2 or 3 times.

2. Playback no longer stops after listening to a SINGLE podcast episode, it plays the whole freaking folder. It used to play an episode, then stop, allowing me to pick what to do after that.

3. The automatic marking as "played" that happens when you play an episode is all messed up now, too. Used to, if I played PART of an episode, it was still shown as unplayed(correctly). Now it shows as played(and grayed) as soon as you play even just 1 second of it. Combined with #2 above, this now means things I have NOT listened to all of will get auto-synched off the Zune.

Combine all 3 of these, and it means figuring out what I've actually listened to/played ALL of is nearly impossible, and because of #1, I can't count on episodes being in order any more, either.

I am seriously sorry we got Zunes. I love, love, LOVED mine until the 2.5 update botched *everything* I use my Zune for, since I rarely listen to just music and very rarely watch video. The wireless sharing thing is neat if you have 2 in the same house, and having an FM tuner is nice, too, but my Zune is a pure annoyance now where it used to be a pure joy.

I knew better than to buy a 1st gen MS product, I really did. Why didn't I listen to myself?

This isn't really to bitch, but just to let anyone reading this thread know that it's not perfect.

Is it a zune 30 or 80? A trade could be arranged for ipod...

Must be a Zune 30 if he's saying "first gen." My Zune 80 only exhibits one of the behaviors listed above, and that's moving on to the next podcast in the list.

nsmike wrote:

Must be a Zune 30 if he's saying "first gen." My Zune 80 only exhibits one of the behaviors listed above, and that's moving on to the next podcast in the list.

Crap. Need to sell my ipod and jump up to a zune 80. I hate itunes.

boogle wrote:
nsmike wrote:

Must be a Zune 30 if he's saying "first gen." My Zune 80 only exhibits one of the behaviors listed above, and that's moving on to the next podcast in the list.

Crap. Need to sell my ipod and jump up to a zune 80. I hate itunes.

iTunes was also a big reason I originally abandoned my iPod.

iTunes was why I bought an iPod not long after I bought my first Mac about six years ago.

Jayhawker wrote:

iTunes was why I bought an iPod not long after I bought my first Mac about six years ago.

As a winamp fan, I hate itunes. I wish the zune software worked off winamp, but I'm willing because there are FUNCTIONing plugins to work it with winamp.

Yep, I used Winamp all the the time. iTunes was a breath of fresh air for me.

Wow. I'm surprised this crowd isn't all over the Touch. That seems like the player to get especially with the 2.0 software and the App store.

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