You don't need an MP3 player to listen to your favorite tunes and podcasts. If your PDA, smart phone, or other Windows Mobile device has enough memory, you can sync playlists to the mobile edition of Windows Media Player using versions 10 and 11 of its big sibling for XP.
To transfer playlists, you need Microsoft's ActiveSync utility. Connect your device to your system and install the software. ActiveSync may ask which kinds of files to sync (Outlook's calendar and contacts, Favorites, Media). If you don't get that choice (or want to change the settings later), select Tools, Options and check the appropriate boxes. The first time you check the Media option, you may see a list of requirements, including version 10 or later of Windows Media Player. Click OK to close that announcement and OK once more to close the Settings dialog box.
Click Setup must be completed next to the Media icon at the bottom of the window to launch Windows Media Player, or choose Start, All Programs, Media Player (if its icon isn't already in your QuickLaunch toolbar) to launch the app manually. If you just connected your mobile device, you may be prompted to choose Automatic or Manual synchronization. If not, or to change this later, look for the button bar at the top of the player window (below the menu bar if it's visible), and click Sync to enter Sync mode.
To configure syncing in Media Player 10, click Set up Sync above the left column, or click the Sync button at the top of the window, select the submenu for your mobile device, and then choose Set up Sync. The check box at the top toggles automatic synchronization. To automate your syncs, use the controls in this dialog box to select the playlists you want to keep synchronized with your mobile device. Click OK.
If you choose the manual option, you can create a sync list via drag-and-drop in Sync mode (version 11) or Library mode (version 10). In version 10, if the far-right column says Now Playing List or Burn List, click that drop-down to select Sync List.
To create a sync list, drag files from playlists, your library, or Windows Explorer, and drop them in the right column. When you're ready to copy files, click Start Sync above the left column.
One convenience of the automatic option: Whenever you modify the chosen playlists, ActiveSync will update your mobile device the next time you connect the unit to your system, even if Media Player is not running at that moment.