With more and more users starting to discover the Zune software we received a ton of questions concerning how to do things like create playlists, and overall media management. You can bet we’ll be releasing some video tutorials later on this month to answer a lot of these questions but I thought it would be equally useful to touch on a few of them here as well.


Zune Basics

Darren asks “What tips do you have for people getting Windows Phone 7 phones and using Zune for the first time? Are there any big things they should be aware of?”

A: First I think it’ goes without saying that one of the most important things you can do when using the software in conjunction with a Zune device is to decide what method of syncing your going to use. That is to say, do you want all of your music, podcasts, and videos synced or only a select few? Do you want to create Auto Playlists to syncing only the content you know you’ll love, or do you want to personally drag and drop everything to your device manually. This will be the first decision you make when opening Zune for the first time.

It’s important to also consider how you are going to be using the software. Will it be your end all solution for media on our computer, or are you planning to use it just to sync? If it’s the former you’ll want to look into all the things that come with using a different media application than you were using before. This includes checking your file formats to be sure they’ll work in Zune, as well as any playlists you might have. If it’s the latter I strongly urge you to reconsider. Zune is a great media solution, and it should meet most if not all of your needs.

File Formats

Vlord asks “I’ve downloaded a lot of television shows and can’t seem to get them working on Zune.”

A: Since you didn’t give us further details we’ll look at this from a few completely different point of views. If you purchased those televisions shows via the Zune Software, call Zune Support at 1-800-GetZune and fill them in, they’ll be able to sort it out.

If you didn’t purchase them from the Zune Video Marketplace then it get’s a little tricky. For example any television show purchased outside of the Zune ecosystem with DRM (Digital Rights Management) will not play on a Zune device. This includes videos from iTunes.

Lastly, and what I suspect to be the case is that you’ve come into possession of television shows another way; maybe The Pirate Bay or other sites like it. With these it comes down to file format. Zune can playback WMV, MP4, M4P, and AVI files. Trouble is you could be downloading an AVI file that may have a different codec then the one Zune understands. My advice has always been, and will be for the foreseeable future the same: Don’t buy TV Shows from any platform, but if you must get them from your device’s official store for media. Sure you can buy that episode of Sponge Bob, but statistics show most people watch once and never watch again. If I can’t convince you to go legit try this article on what codecs Zune understands. It will differ for each device so be sure to keep that in mind. Just remember, with online services like Hulu and Netflix why should you pay $1.99 for one television show locked to any platform? To quote an old favorite movie of mine “It’s good sense, and good smoking too.”

Windows Phone as a Zune Device

James asks: “Windows Phone made it’s debut a couple of weeks ago and I haven’t seen you mention it much on the site. Do you have a problem with Windows Phone? What do you think of it as a Zune HD replacement?”

A: You are right. Other then news posts you haven’t seen any mentions of it, but not for the reasons you think. I happen to be a great proponent of all-in-one devices and most certainly Windows Phone, but we’ve been quiet on it for a number of factors. First, I can’t review something I’ve never used first hand. Yes, I used the emulator, but I wouldn’t dare attempt to get a feel for an operating system unless I was using production hardware and software.

To answer your second question; yes, I do have a problem with Windows Phone 7. It doesn’t currently meet my needs. I use Sprint as my cell phone carrier meaning I don’t have access to any phones that could run the OS.

To answer your last question I think requires me to first include a disclaimer. Again I have never used production hardware or the operating system. I have neither used a prototype or touched a screen running it. What I have done however is my homework, and in my humble opinion while a more compelling offering to those who want a phone, Zune on Windows Phone doesn’t hold a candle to my Zune HD. For example, I need HD radio which no current Windows Phone 7 device has. I also happen to be one of the people who like to take advantage of the social and music discovery features that have become a staple of the Zune experience. I like to use SmartDJ, and checkout my friends’ Zune Cards –two things I can’t do by using Zune on Windows Phone. Don’t worry I’m sure I’ll convert sooner or later and you’ll hear all about it then, just not in the next few months or so.

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions! As always you can email us at theteam@zunespring.com, message us via Twitter at @ZuneSpring, or leave us a voicemail at  1-847-4ZSLive. We’ll be back again in a few weeks with holiday questions and tips!

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