Creative Sync Manager and Tech Support Suck

I bought a Creative Zen Vision: M recently to replace my beloved Neuros (which still works fantastically as a car MP3 player, but after several years of hard use has a battery life of about five minutes, and is no longer being made, so no replacement battery is available).
I love my Zen. It’s beautiful. It plays perfectly, and the screen is gorgeous.
But its sync manager is a piece of crap.

It keeps trying to sync with Outlook, which is not installed on my system, even when I told it not to. Creative’s tech support has been less than helpful. I googled around and found lots of pages telling me that the sync manager works great with Outlook — not helpful. I also found a review on Cnet that said the sync manager didn’t actually synchronize, it just transferred. So if, for example, you remove an MP3 from your collection on your computer (by, say, deleting it from the library), it doesn’t remove it from the player – or vice versa. Not cool. The Neuros Sync Manager has its oddities, but at least it actually synchronizes! So I started looking for something better.
MediaMonkey is a free program I found some time ago through this awesome series of entries on Lifehacker and used to normalize the volume levels on my MP3 collection. Turns out, MediaMonkey also has a surprisingly powerful sync feature – which actually synchronizes, rather than just transferring. So I decided to try it. I had a hiccup where it wasn’t recognizing the files the Creative sync manager had ported over — so I formatted the player, and then it worked perfectly. Yay! I am in business!
Even better: MediaMonkey Gold (the paid version) has a neat feature where I can set it to watch certain folders for updates and automatically add them to the player upon synchronization. This should make my podcast habit a lot easier to support. Now to see how it handles me deleting podcasts from the player when I’m done listening to them.

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