We used either iTunes or Windows Media Player (WMP) if there was no software supplied. iTunes is free to download, but is quite large at around 64MB for Windows XP, so there will be a cost if you’re on a limited internet plan. WMP is installed with Windows operating systems, but the latest update is 25MB, so it’s not so small either.
Both are easy to use for simple tasks like ripping CDs, transferring to a player and organising music on your computer, but also contain some digital rights management functions which may restrict their usefulness.
Most of the audio software supplied with the players is also reasonably easy to use, but the Lenoxx software was difficult to install and instructions were difficult to follow.
The Creative Zen X-FI software had to be replaced with a 20MB downloaded version as the supplied version didn’t work properly.
To get the video onto the players, we had to convert our in-house video with the supplied software. A majority of the players’ video software ranged from poor to OK in ease of use. Only the Creative, Philips and SanDisk players had video software that was relatively easy to use.
The Apple players and the Nokia phone were the only ones we had to download a third party tool to convert the in-house video, the Apple players due to the way its software deals with the format we chose and the Nokia because the instructions were difficult to understand. To convert the video for the Sony players, we had to upgrade a Sony software tool at a cost of $US12.95.
We would like to see the ease of use of video software improve in alignment with the audio software. Ideally, simply dragging and dropping a video file, regardless of the format, into an intuitively named directory and having the player auto-convert the video would be easiest for a consumer.