Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Thoughts Media Off Topic" @ 10:11 AM
Buzz from Activewords (amazing product by the way) was in the room and asked if it could be synched with Outlook, and Jubelirer said no - the Zune is centered around the entertainment experience only. I can understand the team wanting to maintain the purity of the experience, but on the other hand this would have been low-hanging fruit and fairly easy to integrate. My Zen Vision:M can sync with Outlook, and while it's not a feature I use (it's incompatible with Outlook connected to an Exchange server), a friend of mine bought a Zen Vision:M instead of a Pocket PC because he only needed very basic, one-way PIM data sync along with his music storage.
At the 34 minute mark, Jubelirer discussed the Zune desktop software, and how it imports music, photos, and videos from the PC. I have a lot of questions about how this will work - will it simply monitor folders, or will it try to import, transcode, and duplicate content like iTunes does by default? How well does the folder monitoring work - is it better than the ultra-lame monitoring that Windows Media Player 10/11 does? What about network resources for those that have all their media content on a big NAS drive? Scoble also asked about subscribing to Podcasts, and how the Podcasts would get into the Zune software. The answer wasn't surprising: there are no RSS/enclosure features at all. It simply monitors the folder, and if your RSS software downloads the audio/video file, the Zune software will see it and sync it over (remember though it won't transcode, so the source download has to be 320 x 240 and in WMV, H.264, or MPEG4 formats). That begs the question of whether or not the synchronization relationship experience has been improved - in Windows Media Player 10/11, the whole "auto playlist" system is confusing and unfriendly. There may be things I dislike about the iPod, but the experience of just saying "fill my device with stuff" and "make sure new stuff gets put on there" is pretty seamless. The Zune desktop software needs to nail that out of the box.
If you're still drooling for Zune news, check out the video. I wish Scoble would have asked harder questions, or drilled Jubelirer on why the Zune team made the decisions that it did. The "why" is what interests me the most when I hear a decision that makes no sense - why didn't they decide to allow video sharing? Why did they force the 3 day/3 play DRM onto files that are meant to be shared?
Oh, and here's something a bit ironic: Scoble's Podtech show would apparently not ever make it onto a Zune. It's in H.264 format, but it's 480 x 270 resolution, and from what we know the Zune desktop software does absolutely no transcoding of content. So not only can one Zune user not share content like this with another Zune user, but they can't even put it on their Zune. If I understand the lack of transcoding correctly, this is going to be a big issue for Zune users that want to take in video content from a variety of sources that dish it up in different resolutions and codecs.