Even a truly massive music collection can fit comfortably on today’s enormous hard drives. But saving disk space is still a concern on por¬table devices. You can easily get the best of both worlds, though, with a little bit of configuring. You can save the original copy on your local hard drive at a high bit rate and have the files automatically transcoded to a lower bit rate when copied to your portable device. This can be done pretty easily with the sync software settings.
Note that the tools and techniques we describe here don’t work with some popular devices. For an iPod or an iPhone, you need to use Apple’s iTunes software to keep your device in sync. Likewise, the Microsoft Zune players require that you install the Zune software to manage and sync your por¬table player.
To adjust device-specific settings, you must first complete the initial setup of the device on your system. Then, with the device connected, right-click on the device in the Windows Media Player navigation pane and select Properties. This will open a dialog where you can change the device’s name and specify whether the sync should start automatically when the device is connected. For generic flash-memory devices and some portable players, you can also limit the amount of space that Windows Media Player will use. This option is handy for reserving space on the device if you also use it to store, for instance, programs and data files.
This dialog also has a Quality tab, which presents some options you might want to configure if you transfer music, videos, and recorded TV shows to a portable device that has lim¬ited storage space. Under the Music and Videos and TV Shows headings, choose Select Maximum Quality Level and then use the slider to adjust the bit rate you want to use for all items in that category. With these settings enabled, files stored in your library will be converted before being copied from the PC to the device. The original, high-quality versions, will be preserved on the desktop.