Thursday, May 22, 2008
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 01:00 PM
Something interesting happened this month: after the Zune 2.5 software update was released, I started using it more to actually listen to music. Does that sound a bit strange? Previously I'd really only used it as synching software - meaning I'd load it up to push music, photos, and videos onto my Zune - but not much else. My Zune syncs with my Media Center machine, a computer that I use primarily for watching TV and DVDs. It's hooked up to a Dell 26" LCD TV and a Logitech 5.1 speaker system, so I often use it to listen to music, but always in Media Center mode so I can use the remote to control the tunes.
As I used the Zune 2.5 software more I came to realize that it was everything that Windows Media Player 11 was not: friendly, fast, agile, and able to easily handle my 12,403 songs (that's what the Zune software tells me I have). It's also much faster at picking up new content in monitored folders, which solves a long-standing problem I've had with adding new music to my collection and not being able to play it right away from another computer. It doesn't hurt that the Zune software is so beautiful and fun to use either! Windows Media Player 11 looks sad in comparison.
The Zune software isn't perfect mind you - there's no mini-player mode, no task-bar mode, and I still prefer VLC for playing video files. It's less capable when it comes to photos and videos, but still decent. All in all, I think that by going back to scratch with this software the Zune team was able to create a really great solution for managing music collections - largely because it's free from the legacy code that Windows Media Player 11 is dragging along behind it. If you're using Windows Media Player 11 to manage and listen to your music collection, I'd encourage you to download the Zune software and give it a try.