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All posts tagged "album art"


Friday, May 9, 2008

Still Having Trouble With Metadata After the 2.5 Update? Reset Your Collection

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 05:00 PM

Here's a quick tip for you: if after the Spring 2.5 update, you're still seeing problems with the Zune software not reading your music collection correctly, download and run this Zune Media Collection Reset Tool. It's a really simple tool that, when run, resets the Zune software database - and what that means is that when you next start up the software, it will re-index all of your music, photos, videos, and podcasts from scratch. This can take minutes to hours depending on how much media you have and where it's stored. I was having trouble with some of my music not being recognized properly, and after updating to 2.5, the problem didn't go away. Playing a hunch I ran the reset tool, and as far as I can tell at the moment, all my music is now being read correctly.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Microsoft Patents Coverflow-like Technology

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 AM

http://www.macnn.com/articles/08/03...oft.cover.flow/

"In response to Apple's chiding remarks regarding the Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard launch – urging Microsoft to "start their photocopiers" – the Redmond-based software and electronics giant has applied for a patent to Cover Flow-style OS interface. The patent states that the idea revolves around "stacking data wheels" and is primarily designed for mobile environments, potentially the Xbox 360, according to an analysis of the patent by MacNN."



You'll have to excuse the above text, it was written by your sadly typical snarky Apple-lovin' blogger where everything Microsoft does is automatically bad, and everything Apple does is automatically good (even when it clearly sucks).

But back to the subject at hand: this looks like it might be a cool implementation, especially since it seems to go far beyond Apple's coverflow by involving both the vertical and horizontal axis. And unless I'm mistaken, the inclusion of the Web component likely means we'll see this implemented in desktop software as well as on devices. Perhaps this is something we'll see in the next version of the Zune? I'd love to see it on the Xbox 360 as well, because right now the "let's list all your music in a big long list" is a very poor way to access my music library.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Higher-Resolution Zune Album Art Explained

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 02:25 PM

http://zuneinsider.com/archive/2007/10/31/improved-album-art-resolution.aspx

Cesar posted an explanation over at Zune Insider about the sudden appearance of higher-resolution album art:

"A few folks have noticed that the album art on Zune Marketplace looks better, both on the PC and on your Zune. It's true. Last Tuesday, we started featuring 800x800 album available for download, and for sync with the Zune device. In addition, ripped CDs will have 240x240 art available where available, and this should also be synced to the device."

So there you have it: 800 x 800 album art, but only for songs purchased via the Zune Marketplace. That's great news for some people, but it sure leaves people who rip their own CDs out in the cold. It's also worth noting that the current Zune Desktop software can't display album art in a large view like Windows Media Player 11 can - so I'm assuming that the new Zune desktop software will allow the user to see big album art. Windows Media Player can't scale down album art that's bigger than the user window, which is why I've always kept my album art at 600 x 600 - I found that larger sizes required me to have the Windows Media Player window being just a bit too big. I'm hoping that the new Zune desktop software that comes with the v2 Zune devices will scale down big album art to fit in the window.

Will the new Zune software extract high-resolution embedded album art and save it externally at 240 x 240 like the current software does, or will it extract the album art and keep it at it's original resolution? I'm also curious about how well the Zune itself will scale the album art on the device - will it finally read embedded album art? Will it scale the 800 x 800 resolution image to the screen, or will it look bad like 640 x 480 images do today on the Zune?

Yes, I'm a huge album art geek and I'm curious to see how they've improved the situation...

Tags: album art

Friday, August 24, 2007

Embedded Album Art: It's The Right Thing To Do

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 07:00 AM

I'm a very visual person, especially when it comes to music (how's that for a strange statement?). When I'm deciding what music to listen to, I tend to use Windows Explorer and browse through thumbnails images of my album folder rather than use the text list inside the Zune desktop software. There are probably a lot of people like me, because the Zune desktop software has an album art view that accomplishes the same purpose (ditto for iTunes).



The Zune desktop software approach to album art is very limited though - it creates a folder, and drops a few JPEGs into that folder. The album art is associated with that folder, not the files inside it. This presents several problems, namely that once you remove the songs from the folders, you have no more album art. Album art inside folders makes for some spectacularly messy instances as well - when I enabled pictures in the Zune desktop software, and let it scan away, it picked up an extra 15,000 or so images, all album art. My list of photos should be of photos, but because the Zune desktop software doesn't have any threshold for image file size (it does for audio and video), it picks up every single image. My Xbox 360 had the same problem - when I browse photos over Windows Media Connect, it picks up all my music album art, making for a confusing mess. Here's an example of how the current system makes for a sloppy state of affairs.

Read more...

Tags: album art

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Why Does Zune Marketplace Album Art Suck so Much?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 07:00 AM

I really like album art. I'm a visual person, so I like looking at album covers. Quite often when I see the album cover I remember the music on it. I was looking at some songs in the Zune Marketplace that I had bought, and the album art is completely pathetic and unimpressive. Check this out:



Gee. 240 x 240 pixels and badly over-compressed (UPDATE: it's only 150 x 150 pixels, no wonder it looks so bad on the Zune, it has to scale up from 150 x 150 by 240 x 240). That looks incredibly ugly when I'm listening to music via Windows Media Center and that image is shown on a 26" LCD TV. Nasty. When I stripped the DRM from my Zune Marketplace tracks, I used Media Monkey to access the cover art from Amazon.com. Check it out:



That's resized slightly - the Amazon.com album art is 600 x 600 pixels (UPDATE: it's 500 x 500), and not over-compressed so you can still see the album art details.

Zune Marketplace, you've got to do better. Oh, if you're looking for high resolution album art, check this personal project of mine out.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

iPods Get Cover Flow, My Zune Gently Weeps

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 01:15 PM

http://crunchgear.com/2007/02/26/ipods-to-get-cover-flow-firmware-update-coming-soon/

We don't post about the competition to the Zune very often, but every now and then if we see a feature on another digital media player that we'd like to see on the Zune, we'll talk about it.


There's a video floating around the Web showing an iPod displaying a new eye-popping feature: Cover Flow. iTunes on the desktop has it, and while it's pretty cool looking, they way they implemented it leaves a lot to be desired (most due to the position of it in iTunes, I find it awkward and bolted-on). The iPod implementation, however, fills the screen and looks great (assuming that this is real and not an elaborate and amazingly well done fake). Check it out:

No matter which side of the iPod love/hate fence you fall on, there's no denying that the effect shown is just damn cool. If you're a visual person like I am, that often picks music to listen to based on the album art, this is a very useful way to move through your music. I'm not sure that I buy the usefulness of the scroll-wheel here, but I suppose it's an acquired taste.

How does the Zune measure up? I'm sad to say not all that well. Before this iPod update, the Zune had a more impressive album art story, if only marginally: the iPod was limited to a small cover that sort of floated in the middle of the screen with a big white border. Nothing impressive there. The Zune, on the other hand, used the album art to greater effect, filling the whole screen with it. The dark secret we all learned when we got our Zune is that even if you have fantastic, high-quality album art inside your audio files, the Zune will ignore it and instead serve up the highly-compressed, 240 x 240 JPEGs that can look really bad. I cringe whenever I look at album art on my Zune - the quality just isn't there.

Now that the iPod is getting the Cover Flow feature, the Zune is again on the defensive. iTunes uses nice quality 600 x 600 images for album art now, and I'm willing to bet they keep the resolution the same on the iPod, use nice bicubic scaling, and don't re-save it and crush the quality. Their album art is going to look good, and the Zune's album art...not so much.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Zune Supports Embedded Album Art: That's Frickin' Awesome!

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 06:00 AM



Know what that is? That's something that neither my Zen Vision:M nor my Gigabeat S can do: display embedded album art. What's that you might ask? Rather than the dysfunctional method of album art storage that Microsoft employs, where it dumps JPEG images into the same folder as the song and makes them hidden, embedded album art takes the JPEG image and injects it into the header of the audio file, making it a permanent part of the audio file. Meaning, if you email a song to a friend, it will have the album art. It's elegant, and is simply the right way to do album art. More on this rant later from me. The good news is that the Zune supports it, which is a thrill for me, because none of my previous audio players did. Does the iPod? Look below for the answer.
Read more...


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