Using an iPod and a Zune


Q: I am planning to buy an iPod. I already have the Microsoft Zune and am wondering if I can use both the Zune program and the iPod programs on one computer? Also, I already have about 62 GB of music and other media content on my computer (in the Zune program library) and on my Zune player; can I keep that library intact and copy everything onto both the iTunes library and onto the new iPod, or do I have to manually re-copy everything (all 3,000 CD’s) into the new iPod player and into its own library/program? I’m thinking about getting a 160GB iPod off of eBay since Apple doesn’t make that model anymore, but would I be better off to just buy a new or used 120GB iPod? What would you recommend?

– Chris

A: You shouldn’t have any problems using both the Zune Desktop software and iTunes on the same computer, as they are essentially separate applications and should not interfere with each other.

In terms of your music library, this will largely depend on which format you used when you imported your CDs for your Zune. iTunes supports most major audio formats such as MP3, but does not provide support for the Windows Media Audio (WMA) format. If you imported your CDs into your Zune library in the MP3 format, you can easily just import them directly into iTunes and they should just work. If they were imported into your Zune library as WMA files, they will need to be converted to an iTunes-compatible format such as MP3 or AAC in order to use them in iTunes and on your iPod. While iTunes can handle this conversion for you, there will be some quality loss as a result of converting from one lossy format to another. In this case, you might be better off re-importing your tracks directly from your original CDs. Regardless, reimporting your tracks into the MP3 format will provide you with much more flexibility in the future, as MP3 is a much more widely-supported audio format.

If your tracks are in MP3 format and you plan to import them directly into iTunes, you will also want to consider whether you want to makes copies of those tracks in your iTunes folder, taking up additional disk space, or simply reference them from their original locations in the Zune library. You can specify whether iTunes copies imported tracks or not by visiting your iTunes preferences and checking the “Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library” option.

For more information on getting started with iTunes, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Filling your iPod.

In terms of where to purchase your iPod, if storage capacity is important to you, then purchasing a 160GB iPod from a site like eBay or shopping around for old stock in stores is pretty much your only option for getting the higher capacity iPod. Note of course that a used iPod will not come with any kind of warranty from Apple. In some cases this may even be a concern if purchasing a new-in-box iPod from a private seller (ie, a non-retailer), since proof of purchase date may be hard to establish for warranty purposes.

Another consideration in deciding between the 160GB iPod classic and the newer 120GB model is that the 2008 120GB model has a few newer features compared to the earlier 2007 iPod classic models. Most notably, the 120GB iPod classic includes built-in support for the iTunes “Genius” feature to auto-build companion playlists from a selected song, includes a built-in microphone input in the headphone jack that can be used for voice recording with in-line headphone/mic accessories, and also provides headphone-jack-based remote control support. Our iPod classic 120GB Review provides some more information on these differences.

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Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.