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Old 10-05-2006, 07:46 PM
Jason Dunn
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Join Date: Aug 2006
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Default Some Zune Transcoding Questions Answered


I've been posting questions over at the Zunester blog, where Microsoft Zune team member David Caulton has been kind enough to answer a whole bunch of them from interested posters. Here's one segment:

JASON: "Will the Zune desktop software transcode anything that the OS had codecs for? As in, if I feed it a DivX file, will it transcode to WMV just like WMP10 does today with the PMC? So I can feed the Zune desktop software DVR-MS files from my MCE 2005 machine, and watch the videos on my Zune?"

DAVID: "No, it won't transcode anything the OS has a codec (dshow filter) for. Thus, it won't read and transcode divx and dvr-ms files out of the gate."

JASON: "Can you talk about the transcoding engine in the Zune desktop software? Is it the same as WMP10, or is it the new (and much faster) transcoding engine I've been told about?"

DAVID: "The transcoding engine is improved in a number of ways over wmp10, but you'll have to judge speed yourself."

JASON: "The transcoding - are there any scheduling or folder monitoring features? As in, I could point it at my recorded TV shows folder and when a new show is recorded, it would transcode that show for me?"

DAVID: "It does have schedule and folder monitoring. If an item in the library is due for syncing and will need to be transcoded it will be transcoded during idle computer time."

My analysis: I'm really, really disappointed that the Zune desktop software will not be able to transcode video files that the host PC has codec support for, but the Zune does not. It's one thing for the Zune to not have support for DivX, Xvid, and other popular codecs, but it's quite another to have a software product that won't even transcode the videos. I can't think of anything on the market that limited - even the semi-lame software that came with my Zen Vision:M makes an attempt to transcode video to put it on the device. I'm a big fan of taking recorded TV shows with me on my portable devices, and with the Zune that's seemingly impossible. If the Zune isn't going to even do this much - let alone support more codecs on the device itself - I have to wonder how viable the Zune is when it comes to video playback. I know music sharing was their core scenario, but the way it's looking the Gigabeat S is a much better bet for mobile video.
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