My Road to Windows 7 Mobile
I have used a Windows Mobile device since the beginning. The only lapse I had was in 2003-2004 when I had a Blackberry device. The first one I had wasn’t a phone, it was a PDA (Personal Data Assistant). I had, like, three of those things in a year; they were called PocketPCs. (that moniker sounds so ironic). In 2000 a new version came out and it was called Pocket PC 2000 and was based on Windows CE, the predecessor of what was to be known as Windows Mobile. At the time the 900 lb gorilla on the block was the Palm device. (When was the last time you saw someone sport a Palm device?) I bought a HP iPaq. I LOVED that device. L-O-V-E-D that device. The interface was similar to the Windows operating system you saw your computer. It had all of the office applications, IR, VPN support and Windows Media Player 8 with streaming capability. By the time Windows Mobile 5 came out, Palm was a distant second place in the palm device market.
This previous paragraph is to set the stage.
During all of this time I had many mp3 players as well. I had a Rio which had ‘OK’ sound but looked cool; I had a CreativeLabs muvio which was really cool, because it had a radio, doubled as a thumb drive and was a voice recorder. Problem though, was that it only held 128MB of music. and even though the sound was better than the Rio, it was still just good enough. (yes, I am picky about sound quality) I used that device until one Christmas when my father, an avid (rabid) Apple fan sent a pink Zune 30 to my daughter for Christmas. I was not just surprised he did that—I was floored! Come to find out, that he did that because he assumed that, because I worked for Microsoft at the time, Apple products were forbidden in my house. He was wrong, but I was curious. I had heard about the Zune, but the market had not taken kindly to the first generation Zune and I was curious as to what it was about. I loaded up some high bitrate mp3s to the device and was blown away! What was this?? An mp3 player that could push my heavy duty earbuds and play high bitrate rips. NICE! So I got one. And then the Zune v2 came out. Even better. Then the Zune HD. Microsoft had done it. They had finally gotten it right. The iPod was (and still is) the 900lb gorilla in the mp3 market. But wait—what is this Windows Mobile device with Zune on it?
I decided to purchase the Samsung Focus. I could have purchased the Surround but unless the speakers are at least as far apart as my shoulders, what’s the point? I was pleasantly surprised at the sound quality of the single speaker in the Focus. For cheesy phone speakers, I’m doubly glad I didn’t get the Surround.
Yes, I am an audiophile and I only listen to mp3s if there is no other lossless format available. I prefer FLAC, WMA or MPEG-4. Most of my music is ripped to FLAC and converted to WMA or MPEG-4. I do have some mp3s (a lot, actually). I don’t listen to anything below 192kb/s bitrate. Hence, the reason why I love the Zune HD so much. It is HD audio and video. When the Windows Mobile 7 device came out, I was anxious to find out if it, too, was HD. I would have been so disappointed if Microsoft had sacrificed sound quality just to get into the phone/music/eye candy world of Apple. I am happy to report that the Samsung Focus can push my Monster Turbines fine (unlike an iPod or iPhone).
The one thing that I am disappointed with is that the device can’t be jacked into amplifiers and used as a sampling device. I can live with that.
I didn’t think there was anything “HD” about the Zune HD’s audio. Maybe you’ve had some really bad audio players?
What do you do with sampling (just curious)?
HD audio can deliver 8 channels at 192 kHz/32-bit, which will sound different on audio players that can’t play it. Here’s the test: rip a song at various bit rates; say 64, 96, 128, 192, 360 and listen. Most players won’t show any difference between 128 and 192 and 192 and 360 will sound the same. You will probably need some earbuds that will be able to help you hear the difference. Now, knowing *your* background 🙂 this will be an easy test.
With the sampling, I use for podcasts (haven’t published yet–stay tuned).
I also bought the focus and recently added a 32GB microSD (huge drama there) and have started to use it to do what my ZuneHD 64 was doing on a constant basis (general listening to podcasts and music while at work). I don’t like how Zune handles video podcasts, simply because if you lock the screen the podcast stops. While I understand that, cmon most podcasts that only ship in video can just be listened to and this should be optional. The Focus ear-buds sound almost as well as my Zune premium buds but with the added bonus of mic and player controls. The streaming to my Ford sync is icing on the cake. As for “anything about “HD”, maybe I am just a dumb media consumer but I have found the ZuneHD sounds great, especially in the HD line when they allowed a higher volume than the previous generations. Keeping multiple devices synched, mainly the two I use for podcast listening, can be a pain but so far seems to be worth it. Now I have to sell my Zune 120 since I have exceeded my 3 devices per account quota.
I was disappointed that the WinMo7 phone counted as one of my devices…but..oh well. I was hoping for three zunes and three phones. Maybe I’m just greedy.