These additional settings include the following:
♦ Podcasts: Podcasts are the Internet's answer to radio, although they are prerecorded audio files, not live streams. More important, podcast support is one of many advantages that Zune has over Windows Media Player. Unlike the bundled media player that comes in Windows 7, Zune actually understands and works natively with podcasts, enabling you to subscribe and listen to these unique content types in logical ways. In the Podcasts settings, you determine how many episodes of each podcast to keep and how they will be ordered for playback.
♦ Sharing: The Sharing settings pane includes a single option for sharing content between the Zune PC software and any Xbox 360 video game consoles that may be on your home network. You will look more closely at this functionality later in the chapter.
♦ Pictures: This simplistic settings pane provides just a single option: the length of time each photo will display during a photo slide show.
♦ Display: Display settings enable you to customize the Zune application window with any of several possible background designs, and configure onscreen animations and video enhancements.
♦ Rip: Rip settings offer a simple front end for various options related to CD ripping. Key among these, of course, is the format used. Zune defaults to WMA for some reason, but you should change this to 256 Kbps MP3 or higher for maximum compatibility and reasonable quality.
We mentioned earlier that Zune is missing a few key features. One that will be of importance to audiophiles is the capability to record MP3 using a so-called variable bit rate (VBR), which generally provides better results, and smaller file sizes, than the constant bit rate (CBR) utilized by Zune. Apple's iTunes does offer this functionality for MP3 files.
♦ Burn: Burn settings are, of course, dedicated to Zune's CD and DVD burning capabilities. The application can burn audio CDs and data CDs or DVDs. You can also configure whether the disk is ejected on burn completion, and the burning speed.
♦ General: The General settings pane includes a few fairly innocuous options. None are particularly important.
When you're done configuring these various options, click the OK button. You'll be returned to the main application view.
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