One solution is to also copy the music over to the iPod hard drive as data as well as the library and then copy it back into the iTunes library on your main PC so it will then be added when it Autosyncs. But all this is a needless pain. I simply want to be able to sync with two PCs. On the Zen, you can copy tracks on and off at will and delete tracks from the device itself. You can only remove tracks from the iPod when it’s connected to a PC. Other players don’t have such draconian restrictions but Apple dictates how you use you’re product.
What Apple also wants you to do is to buy videos from its online store. At least only if you’re in the US, as the TV series it offers for download such as Lost and 24 are not available in other countries. The screen on the iPod has a native resolution of 320 x 240 and videos either downloaded or encoded yourself have to match that. Videos do look very nice on the screen but this resolution is a limitation if you want to use the TV out feature though the AV cable accessory or dock. Also when placed side by side against the Zen Vision: M it’s clear that the latter has a far richer colour gamut and contrast. Videos do look good on the iPod, it’s just that they will look better on the Zen. They’ll also last longer on the Zen, which will play back for four hours rather than three on the 60GB iPod and only two on the 30GB player. Additionally, whereas the Zen enables you to password protect particular video files, Apple only lets you password protect the whole player.
To put it succinctly if you’re keen to regularly watch video on your portable player then the Zen is a better option.
It’s not just for quality reasons, it’s for convenience too. If you haven’t downloaded content specifically for the iPod, your content will have to be encoded as the only format the iPod will play is H.264. Being an advanced version of MPEG4, this gives the best video compression to quality ratio of any format but the downside is that you can’t just drag and drop files over to the player, as you can with the Zen Vision: M. It’s also more processor intensive, which is why the iPod’s video staying power is so poor.
The latest version of iTunes can convert files for you but it’s not a quick process. ATI’s Avivo converter has a preset for the iPod and will do the job much faster. It’s officially locked to ATI’s X1000 series of cards but it’s easy to Google for a version that will work on any recent graphics card from ATI or NVIDIA.