Here is the scoope on I got my free Zune Player from Microsoft.

I never owned an iPod and my last brush with a MP3 player was about 6 to 7 years back with now ancient Creative Nomad II Player. Nomad had an extremely limited space even after adding 64MB Smart Media Card (which at that time costed me a fortune). I found limited use for the device, as anywhere I went I had my laptop – whether the trip was for business or vacation. So Music and Video was always there. I considered this as the perfect Digital Media Nirvana – with no need to buy myself an iPod or equivalent. In the mean time, I gifted my sisters with iPod Nano’s and they were thrilled – which I couldn’t understand why?

So when I got the Zune players (I got two – one I gifted right away) I was very skeptical on how useful will it be for me. Few weeks after I got Zune, I was to do my business visit to USA. Normally I rip few of the new DVDs and VCDs into my laptop – which in past trips, I hardly had time to watch and will delete on return with wasting the time spent in ripping them in the first place. This time I decided to give Zune a spin – so I was out looking on how to rip the videos to Zune format. After lot of research, trials and discussions with other RDs, I narrowed to “PQ DVD to Zune Video Converter Suite“. The software certainly was fast, gave good quality video output and was worth the US$40 I spent on it. I just wish they have slightly a better User Interface and their website worked (now they seem to have a new website). If you are using this software, for better results with DVDs set the frame rate to 24 fps (in more options dialog) and Video Quality to Good (in main window).

I carried few Tamil Movies, Cho’s Drama சாத்திரம் சொன்னதில்லை, EveryBody Loves Raymond and King of Queens. Zune was god sent when I had to kill my time in Airport waiting lounges and with British Airlines’ boring In-Flight Entertainment selection. I just hope no one in London Airport thought I was crazy – when I was laughing funnily while watching King of Queens :-)

Zune’s battery was decent, I could get over 2 to 3 hours of video inspite of several pause-and-play situations. I just wish they improve it to last for few more hours to last for a full long flight. While in US, I bought Zune’s Home A/V Kit – that consists of a AC Charger, Remote Control and TV Cable from Amazon for $75 against the full price of $99.  The TV Cable was really handy to connect Zune to a TV in the apartment and enjoy the videos I carried on a larger screen. I found the TV Cable to be useful at home as well for showing my parents the trip photographs from Zune.

If you own a Zune, I highly recommend the Home A/V kit for a complete experience. While on that, don’t waste your money by buying the Zune FM Transmitter – I bought it as well and found it totally useless. The reception was bad everywhere – I am saying this after trying in the USA and also in Chennai where there is huge available non-used FM Spectrum, but still the signal strength was pathetic.

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