ActiveSync/WMDC and Zune Sync: Birds of a Sync Feather

The Zune 2 firmware upgrade turned my 1st generation Zune from a moderately useful MP3/video player to a decent media player with a screen I prefer to my iPod video’s screen (though nothing can touch the iPod touch’s display – pun intended). With its 30GB hard drive (compared to my iPod touch’s 16GB) and the new firmware’s ability to deal with podcasts, I thought it would make a great device to store and watch a bunch of video podcasts. Viewing video podcasts on the Zune (1st generation) is a good experience. The problem lies in actually getting those video podcasts from a PC to the Zune. From what I can tell video podcasts are store in a hodge-podge of file formats in the Zune marketplace. However, it looks like many (maybe most) of these file formats are not Zune ready video formats and requires transcoding that takes place during the sync process with the Zune. A half-dozen or so video podcasts can sometimes take up to an hour for this transcoding process. This is a far cry from the few minutes it takes for a similar batch of video podcasts to be synced to an iPod using iTunes.

So, after trying this idea (using the Zune as my main video podcast device) for a number of months (since the 2.0 firmware came out), I deleted the video podcasts feeds for the Zune. This is really too bad since it really does have a good LCD display and is a good video playback device.

The Zune’s awful video sync process ruined an otherwise good user experience like Windows Mobile’s ActiveSync/WMDC sync process often ruins a good WiMo experience. With the iPhone gaining a lot of traction and entering the enterprise space with its own Exchange Server ActiveSync and Google’s Android arriving soon, one can only hope that Microsoft will take pity on its existing customers and fix their awful sync experience for the Zune and Windows Mobile.