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Music Media Handhelds Hardware

New Sony Minidisc Players 436

Posted by michael
from the restricted-and-proprietary dept.
Andy_R writes "Sony's has announced it's new new range of Hi-MD players at the CES show. The range of players (which should hit the shops in April) will start below $200 for a device that can function as a USB hard drive as well as storing a claimed 45 hours of music. The twist is that the data is stored on a new type of removable 1Gb media, a development of the minidisk format, with blanks costing about $7 each. The BBC have some more details including backwards compatibility with old-style minidisks and an ominous mention of 'built-in copyright protection' but I can't find anything on Sony's official site yet." Another reader reader submitted some pictures and specifications (pdf).
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New Sony Minidisc Players

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I mean, who would buy one if it doesn't come in fruity colors?
  • What's the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jargoone (166102) * on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:41PM (#7915599)
    The reason I got a HDD mp3 player was because I was tired of carrying media around with me. mp3 CD players can be had for less than $100 for a good one. The media for this thing doesn't hold much more than a CDRW, and each "disc" costs about as much as a spindle of CDRWs. Couple that with the fact that in order to get the capacity of a 20G HDD mp3 player, you'd wind up spending just as much. And carrying discs around. Then add in DRM, in typical Sony fashion. Screw that.

    I predict minidisc will continue to be Sony's ed-headed stepchild.
    • Re:What's the point? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Brahmastra (685988)
      I'd rather use one of those mini-CDs that hold less data than a crappy, proprietiery mini-disc format.
    • How good are mp3 CD players for jog protection? The last (non-mp3) CD player I had had got pretty much the best jog/skip protection available, yet I couldn't walk down the street without it jumping, yet the MP3 player that I've got has never jumped once - that's been walking, running, cycling etc.
      • by IWorkForMorons (679120) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:54PM (#7915770) Journal
        I've recently seen an inexpensive MP3/CD player with 2 minutes of MP3 anti-skip. I personally had to continuously tap that thing for 5 minutes to get it to start skipping. Of course I was also defending myself from the young child who's MP3 player I was constantly hitting, so that could have given it the chance to recover once or twice.
      • How good are mp3 CD players for jog protection? The last (non-mp3) CD player I had had got pretty much the best jog/skip protection available, yet I couldn't walk down the street without it jumping, yet the MP3 player that I've got has never jumped once - that's been walking, running, cycling etc.

        I've got a Sony Altrac3plus MP3 CD-Walkman D-NF610 that I use for jogging and haven't heard it skip once. Street price is $89 and it includes FM/AM/Weather/TV reception. Obiously the TV band is audio only, s

      • by hanssprudel (323035) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:08PM (#7915952)
        The harddisk players have no issues with jogging, walking, running, etc. None. Plenty of people jog with there ipods, and I have never heard of anyone having a problem with it.

        While the old CD player may have had a couple of seconds of cache for skip protection, the ipod has half an hours worth. I have dropped mine on hard floors several times, and it doesn't even stop playing.

        This is just a common misconception, carried down from the eightees when you weren't allowed to breath while files loaded for fear of crashing the read head...
    • Re:What's the point? (Score:5, Informative)

      by FerretOnMountDew (716007) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:51PM (#7915723)
      MDs are great. They combine the size of a flashcard-style mp3 player with the removable media features of a cd/cdrw mp3 player. And cost a bit less to replace than a HDD player.

      Personally, I've been eyeing a sony md player for a bit, but I think I'll hold off for the new 1gb md format to pan out a little. If nothing else, it'll drive the cost of the older-style players down a bit. Hopefully, the 1gb format will take off, though.

      Now an annoying DRM is a different story. And that will be the only factor (for me) which will make or break it in the long run.
      • Re:What's the point? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jargoone (166102) *
        I agree about the original MD players. They have their strong points, and although they're getting fewer, I can see how some people would be attracted to them. My main point was the price. A decent portable MD player costs next to nothing, same for the disks. But just the player for $200? And media you can't use anywhere else? Even without DRM, I just can't see a single reason to even consider this thing.
    • Re:What's the point? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by webtre (717698) <webtre&hotmail,com> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:56PM (#7915798) Homepage Journal
      DAT is a ten year old perfectly good technology. I defy anyone to walk into a mall and find a DAT device, a Digitam Minidisc, or a host of others. People simply won't buy a crippled product, therefor an entire decade of technologies were exterminated. This is what happens when the law attempts to impose DRM.
      • Re:What's the point? (Score:2, Informative)

        by ldspartan (14035)
        DAT DRM is a joke compared to the system we're talking about now. Consumers don't have DAT players because they're:

        - linear.
        - mechanically complex
        - unbelievably expensive
        - There's no pre-recorded music available for them.

        DAT isn't intended for consumers, its intended for making CD (or better) quality recordings. Who wants to carry around something with all the usability disadvantages of cassette tapes?

        Also, the DRM used on these devices is simplistic. We're talking about 2 bits in the data stream. You ca
    • Re:What's the point? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gemseele (172754)
      Why? Because those HDD mp3 players (nomad, ipod) have crap for battery life. Portable mp3 CD players are nice but don't fit in my pocket nicely like my NetMD. Minidiscs are also more robust than CDRW for carrying around and re-writing to. Plus you don't need a computer to record.

      I'll admit that Sony did practically destroy it's own creation with all of it's annoying restrictions including the inability use the media as data storage. It would have made the perfect replacement for the floppy disc, zip d
      • Sony did actually make a Mini-Disc data drive, but it cost about 500ukp. At the same time, player/recorder walkmans were selling at only 200ukp. It's not hard to see why that didn't take off.
        I think it also had its own crappy software, and didn't appear as a 'proper' drive, which probably didn't help.
      • iriver ihp-120
        16 hours
        how is that crap?

        My minidisc player never lasted longer than that, and the battery life when recording was miserable.
      • I don't understand why this is an issue. It's like my cell phone. When I'm in the car I plug it into the charger in my armrest. When I'm at home I plug it into my computer. The whole time I've had my iPod I've only lost charge twice, once when I hadn't plugged it in for a week and once while up in the mountains hiking.

        Plus, I don't need to purchase batteries. (Which really bug me - give me a large rechargable any time)

        The "don't need a computer" bit I don't understand either. While there may be a

    • > I was tired of carrying media around with me

      Actually I prefer disc-based players, simply because I get tired of listening to the same music over and over again. With the same stuff on the drive for a long time (and even if it's lots of it), I'm unhappy. The advantage of a disc player is that you can swap the whole collection for a new one. Not a single one of those over-listened tunes remain. It's difficult to do that with a 20GB HD, even when you try hard.

      That's why I favor disc players, althoug
      • The advantage of a disc player is that you can swap the whole collection for a new one. Not a single one of those over-listened tunes remain. It's difficult to do that with a 20GB HD, even when you try hard.

        Curious: exactly how large is your music collection? Mine is about 35G, and I have a 10G HD player. Even though it took quite a bit of time, I was able to weed out the stuff I never listen to in order to get it down to 10G. I occasionally have to rework things, but it works well.

        As far as swapping
      • by gl4ss (559668)
        that doesn't make much sense.

        you can change the music on a hd based player just as easy as you can burn a new cd, except that you can swap in several gigabytes of new music at a time and have fresh music for weeks instead of burning a cdr per day.

        .
      • Some of us have CD MP3 players in the car stereo... when I'm driving down the road, it's much easier to reach up to the visor and swap in a new CD-R by feel rather then trying to navigate to a new play list on a tiny screen. I also find it easier to flip through a CD-carrier then to browse a complicated directory structure.

        I have another MP3 CD player hooked to PC speakers in the office, and a boombox that takes MP3 CDs upstairs. (And a mini-CD MP3 player for trips.) So I have a good bit of equipment t
  • by radoni (267396) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:43PM (#7915618)
    I always thought of MiniDisc medium as the potential to replace the floppydisk. Sort of a wet dream for MO medium in common use. Lack of a drive to read/write to MiniDiscs as computer storage, high prices, and availability of writable CD's killed this one, but i wouldn't be suprised if sony is able to jump on it with a 1gb format.

    • I always thought of MiniDisc medium as the potential to replace the floppydisk.

      Me too.

      but i wouldn't be suprised if sony is able to jump on it with a 1gb format.

      I would. I was actually thinking about this today. Why didn't sony ever release cheap md-data drives for pcs?
      My bet is copy protection. It has always be a bitch to copy data digitally from one md to another. A "floppy" MD would have destroyed that barrier, both then and now.

    • by zardie (111478) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:36PM (#7916335) Homepage
      For some reason, Slashdot editors neglected to include the fact that you can use this to store data as well as music now (I was the 'Another reader' referred to in that post with the real links).

      The unit can be used with either the 300MB (standard MD media) or 1GB (the new Hi-MD format) disks and draws power from USB so that the music player becomes a portable USB storage device. No idea whether it supports the USB mass storage standard or whether it has its own whacky way of doing things, but it's something that should have been possible from the start.

      Any music stored on the device will be visible but protected and the device won't play standard music files if they're simply transferred to the data area. You still need to use SonicStage (the Sony equiv of iTunes) to transfer your files, although there are a few thirty party tools around (such as RealOne) which use the same drivers but sport a much nicer (and stable) interface.

      Needless to say, a 1GB disk should be plenty for keeping documents and such around, perhaps even a bootable linux distro such as Knoppix can be adapted for this, assuming it supports standard USB mass-stroage. Now that'd be cool :)
  • by klipsch_gmx (737375) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:43PM (#7915629)
    I wonder how many people are turned off of personal digital audio players by the compromised sound quality of lossy codecs? The price per megabyte isn't nearly so attractive for those that prefer lossless quality.

    When MiniDisc was new (and expensive), manufacturers targeted audiophiles while the advertising emphasized custom mixes and sound quality (even though ATRAC is also lossy). With "MP3 players," the emphasis is usually on quantity, not quality. Being able to accomodate realtime filters like DFX [fxsound.com] might be a way to find some middle ground.

    I realize that most consumers either tolerate or are unaware of the fidelity loss, hence the continued dominance of the now inferior MP3 format. Still, I think that in order for this market to grow more quickly, it should educate consumers about the options available to them with these devices: CD quality if you want it, or OGG (etc.) if you want more tracks per MB.
  • by KozmoStevnNaut (630146) <henrikstevn@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:44PM (#7915644)
    Finally being able to use MDs as removable media is really great. I remember hearing about a drive for the old MDs that was intended for using them as data storage, but I've never seen one.

    These new MDs coul be a viable replacement for CD-roms, but only if they aren't bogged down with DRM. A physically small, 1GB disc in a protective caddy. It's almost too good to be true.
    • I remember hearing about a drive for the old MDs that was intended for using them as data storage, but I've never seen one.

      It was almost 10 years ago that I first saw one listed in a MacWarehouse (IIRC) catalog. It was ridiculously expensive. Iomega came out with the Zip drive a few months later, and quickly killed that particular incarnation of MD-Data.

      ~Philly
    • " A physically small, 1GB disc in a protective caddy. It's almost too good to be true."

      It is too good to be true. If you carry them in your pocket, they get dust, dirt, and stuff in the disc, and you can't wipe it off, so it eventually jams up the player by fscking the lens and servos.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        It is too good to be true. If you carry them in your pocket, they get dust, dirt, and stuff in the disc, and you can't wipe it off, so it eventually jams up the player by fscking the lens and servos.

        Not if you carry them in their cases. I have been carrying them around in my pockets for years with no problems, often without the cases.

        As far as the media goes, I have six year old MDs that work perfectly.
      • ... so it eventually jams up the player by fscking the lens and servos.

        The servos, maybe, but the lens? You do know that the MD is not an optical medium, right?

        My MD Walkman is at least 6 years old. It's been used lots, mostly with the same set of 20 or so disks, and I've not had any problems with the media. Much better than CD-Rs which start to die after a couple of years! MDs are re-recordable too; the walkman can split, reorder and join tracks - I don't see many MP3 players offering those featu

    • Burnable CDs are cheap because they lack the proctive caddy. If I'm not mistaken, Sony proposed a similar protective case for the DVD standard, and look what we got. MD is Sony's own standard, like memory stick. The only media format that Sony has put out that the industry has accepted is the format for PlayStation 1 and 2 games. If the PlayStation2 didn't have DVD playback as one of it's key featuers, I'd bet Sony would have gone with a more expensive media option...
  • Adding the capabilities to store other files on it like a USB hard drive is nice, but for less than 200 bucks, you can get yourself a 200gb USB hard drive/enclosure.
    • referencing the above "for less than xxx bucks you can get yourself a xxxgb USB hard drive/enclosure"...

      you still
      A) need a computer
      B) power supply (for most of them, a hassle anyways)
      C) driver issues

      my mom actually bought a meatloaf minidisc from the store to listen to. she's a COBOL hacker for a university, like some of you. when she's home, the last thing i'd ever see is her using a computer.

      if you don't want to deal with a computer, you use a minidisc. it's for normal people. sony is losing their ma
  • by aflat362 (601039) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:46PM (#7915668) Homepage
    "Hi-MD" uses the FAT file system, making it possible to use "Hi-MD" formatted MDs and 1GB "Hi-MD" discs as versatile media for recording PC data files, such as images and text. Furthermore, as portable, rewritable PC media, "Hi-MD" complies with USB format's Mass Storage Class, ensuring that simply by connecting a "Hi-MD" product to a PC it is immediately recognized as an external storage device.

    What do you think, Mac, Linux compatible?

  • by nemui-chan (550759) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:47PM (#7915671) Homepage
    The only complaint I currently have about my minidisc is the drm technology on it now. While you can copy any media to your minidisc using the supplied software (and any other software I've seen works the same way), you can only copy the media back onto the pc it was checked out from. If your pc crashes, then you're pretty much out of luck, and you better hope that minidisc lasts.
    • Ouch! That sucks. The new discs are magneto-optical just like the old ones, which makes them ideal for archival use. But with that DRM you wouldn't be able to back anything up onto them.
    • A few clarifications.

      Sonicstage is lame. I've used RealOne and you can delete tracks without checking them in again, so if you lose the original file, it simply goes about its merry way. You can also use NetMD simple burner to do this (also note that NetMD simple burner creates tracks which aren't marked as PROTECTED).

      Secondly, as the specification sheets specify the editability of tracks on the run, and given that this unit (unlike the previous NetMD units) is essentially marketed as an MP3 player, I'm
  • by ballpoint (192660) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:48PM (#7915686)
    Intel announces 4004C CPU
    Microsoft announces Windows 98TE
    Apple announces Apple IV
    etc. etc. etc.
  • Sony's last gasp (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    minidisc is now out of date so i think this is Sony's last push before resigning the format to the bin (along with their other failed formats)

    also the hours of music quoted are for 44kbps music files using their lossy ARTRAC (remember it throws away 85% of the data) perhaps if they quoted MB storage space instead of this latest consumer scam of quoting songs (iPod and Jobs did the same) but not bitrate (hiding that in the small print)

    all in all MW radio probably sounds better than a 44k ARTRAC file

    sorry
  • by addie (470476) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:51PM (#7915727)
    Man, I hate moving. Each time, I have to lug my boxes of hundreds of CD's, it's just ridiculous. Thankfully my new iPod has changed all that.

    So I ask, isn't this a step backwards? A 1GB disc for $7 seems like a good deal, but a HD-based digital music player with 40GB is already available... let's do the math.

    [$7 (per disc) x 40 (GB)] + $200 (player) = $480

    Which, while just over half the cost of a 40GB iPod at the moment, hardly seems worth it given the lack of convenience. Am I missing something? Why move back to a removable storage based system, something we've been moving away from for the last decade?
    • Because most of us don't have 40GB of music. My modest collection (about 200 albums) still only takes up about 10GB.

      $270 is a lot less then $480.
    • by misterpies (632880) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @02:06PM (#7916750)
      A few advantages of this system over iPods and the like:

      1. lose (or break) your ipod and you lose all the data on it. lose/break your minidisc player and you've lost maximum 1Gb.

      2. even with DRM, you can still lend/borrow friends' discs. Without needing a computer or a network.

      3. You don't need a computer to take advantage of Gb music storage. Believe or not, there are many people who don't own computers and even more who do own them but only use them for web browsing and email. With an MD player, you can just feed in a signal from any audio source to record tracks. My sister is a musician and uses an MD to record tracks created on an analog multitrack tape recorder.

      4. More hardware choice (in the long term) and easier hardware upgrades. Buy a newer player, use the old discs.

      5. Less risk when transporting data. Walking around with a $7 minidisc is a lot less worrying than carrying a $250 player.

      Finally, if this thing takes off then big price drops are likely. iPods are expensive because miniature HDs are expensive, and Apple's strategy has consistently been to increase capacity rather than drop price. But for most non-musically-obsessed people, who have been using walkmans and discmans happily for years, 1-2Gb will easily fulfill all their mobile music needs. (Apple has finally figured this out, hence the mini-iPod. But theyre still going after the premium market.) 1Gb MD players have the potential to be sold in Wal-Mart in a couple of years for double-digit prices. The disks will probably come down to under a dollar. Apple, to judge by the last 20 years, will never get into the low-margin, high-volume business that is Sony's specialty.

      Instead of dissing this, you should hail it as bringing Gb storage to the masses.

      Now, where's the real geek argument about whether sony measures GBs as binary or decimal powers?
  • Any news on the possibility that this is the same media that the PSP will be using?
  • by burgburgburg (574866) <splisken06@email . c om> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:52PM (#7915737)
    From the PDF:

    4) Copyright Protection Technology
    To prevent an illegal copying of digital content, "Hi-MD" incorporates OpenMG and MagicGate technology, already adopted in Memory Stick and Net MD for content management to ensure that music content stored on a "Hi-MD" disc will be encrypted. "Hi-MD" also conforms to the Serial Copy Management System (SCMS).

  • convenience (Score:2, Informative)

    by NeB_Zero (645301)
    i have many friends that use MD for the "convenience" factor... i never saw it but, i can appreciate it...

    MiniDisks stay clean a lot better than CDs, and with the RW capabilities there, you can continue to add/remove songs and the like... MDs are smaller than CDs, and come in cool colors.

    i dunno, improving the MD won't help anyone who has already adopted the format and with HDD MP3 players becoming so huge (iPod and the like), i doubt there will be any new adopters for the format... but if you weigh i
    • Re:convenience (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ldspartan (14035)
      I'm a huge fan of MD.

      For me, most of my music listening time is in the car. I tend not to listen to music as I walk around, as it bothers me to not be able to hear my sorroundings.

      That being said, MD is great in the car. The disks are plenty tough, and its great to be able to just throw them on the ground or in the back seat or in the console and not have to worry about them getting scratched up. The only real problem is that there's a distinct lack of hardware that supports them (since no one really uses
  • There is another article on the NYTimes about this. With Sony coming out with their own format to MP3 called Atrac I'm not sure I'll be interested. I have way too many songs encoded already in MP3 to switch over to some other commercial format.
    • The Sony MD standard as alwys used ATRAC thought there have beens a few versions. I think ATRAC3 is the latest? You can upload MP3s to a MiniDisc player but most of them do not play MP3 directly, instead the MP3 is converted to ATRAC before being uploaded to the player! Makes you think that uploading MP3 to a MiniDisc play might degrade the sound quality even more given that the MP3 is decoded and then recompressed???
  • media is dead (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bobba22 (566693)
    I am almost astonished to see Sony still barking up the removable media tree. It's good to have an alternative to hard drive based players but I really can't see who the uptake is going to be aimed at. Anyone wanting music with instant access is surely going to buy into the ipod style player or CD walkman for those without computers. If Sony thinks that they're going to sell pre-recorded music on these discs, they must be mad. With each disc holding only 1 Gig, you'll still have a bag full of disks to break
  • Their Magic Gate DRM simply doesn't let you make a digital copy of something that's already a digital copy (via Optical in/out). They only let you make one digital copy of an Analog source as well.
    • Magic "Gate" is an appropriate thing to call it. Because once any DRM succeeds in the market, it'll be a gateway to more intrusive schemes such as those made possible with TCPA/Palladium/NGCSB/whatever the lockdown scheme is called this week.
    • They only let you make one digital copy of an Analog source as well.

      Bands have complained that the SCMS prevents them from getting digital music that they performed off their DATs and MDs. Does Sony do this to protect established songwriters from having their songs covered by local bands without permission?

  • by Matey-O (518004) * <michaeljohnmiller@mSPAMsSPAMnSPAM.com> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:55PM (#7915775) Homepage Journal
    Computer technology is a series of advancements going from one technology to another until specific issues are solved. For the next two years (and past couple) the problem has been small portable storage.

    (Case in point, an average $60 video card can drive a higher resolution, and higher refresh rate than most monitors can now support. Video is a solved technology, especially in light of the issues of the past -- EGA, monochrome high resolution)

    I'm seriously jonesing because I can't justify the $200+ a 1gb+ device would cost *cough* iPod mini *cough*. On the other hand, I've got a spool of blank cd-r's and a _$30_ cd/mp3 player that'll play them.

    So, 640 mb per $0.05 disk, and $30 for the player and a total library of 22 Gb (12 Gb of which I'll never EVER listen to) it's going to take a LOT of improvement in data density/cost to justify another device purchase.
    • I love my iPod, and I love convincing other people to get iPods, because they usually reciprocate: They love their iPods too.

      If you have 10gb of legitimate music, then an iPod is a trivially worthwhile purchase: I have 4.5gb of legitimate music, which translates to roughly $3,000 of CDs. 10gb then is $6,000 of CDs.

      A $299 device that makes available all your music, especially if it's $6,000 worth of music, is so totally worth it : )
  • by E-Lad (1262) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @12:58PM (#7915823) Homepage

    I use my Sony Net-MD player with a condenser mic to make field recordings. The only problem with Sony and it's "Copyright Protection" is that it doesn't allow you to transfer audio over the USB connect FROM the MD player TO the computer.

    So basically, any recordings you make need to be transfered analog into your computer's sound card.

    There have been petitions in the past from the MD users community demanding Sony allow bi-directional USB transfers, but because Sony has it's music label/tech world schizophrenia, it's never going to happen.

    Right now, the only thing that is reasonably priced and does do this is the Nomad 3 from Creative, but I want something with better A/D conversion than what it has.
  • by Dalroth (85450) * on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:01PM (#7915844) Homepage Journal
    I have a Sony Mini-Disk player. I never use it. Instead, I use my Sony CDRW MP3 player.

    Why?

    1. The CDRW holds a LOT more music.
    2. The CDRW media is cheaper.
    3. The CDRW plays MP3 AS IS.
    4. The CDRW media is a lot faster than the Mini-Disk medai.
    5. The CDRW does not require any special software.

    Play MP3s as is (no re-encoding them to your own crappy custom DRMed format) and get rid of that GOD-AWFULL software that comes with the Mini-Disk. Honestly, that software my Mini-Disk player came with was amongst the worst I have *EVER* used.

    Do the above, and I might consider another one. Until then, stick with your ipods and CDRW players.

    Bryan
  • by MonkeyBoyo (630427) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:03PM (#7915878)
    The only segment I know that has embraced minidisks is live theater where having the music for your show on a minidisk is a defacto standard. Check out this google search [google.com]. Maybe they will slowly upgrade to the new format.

    Are there any other segments where minidisks are standard?
  • Sony's launching a new online pay music service [cnn.com]. I wonder all of a sudden if this new service will be Atrac only (which has been around for awhile, contrary to a couple other posts I've seen here). Would they be that stupid with it?

    I still want the Hi-MDs. =^)
  • You know, I was watching the film Strange Days on TV last night, the main character was trading data which was stored on Minidiscs.

    This reminded me of the scene in the Matrix where Neo hands over some data on a Minidisc.

    Minidisc looks like such a cool format, smaller than zip discs - a PC drive bay for them was manufactured however good luck if you want to find one...

    With the ability to use for data, and even copy music from your pc to them - they could have wiped the floor with other storage forma
    • i agree completely. it had enough of a "cool factor" to win. i think it was overspecialized. someone could still make it right though. possibly use MD media, liscense the technology used to read and write them, just change the compression scheme? probably a lot more to it, but why isn't it done already? why didn't Sony think ahead a bit?
  • While I agree that MD is behind the times, I do a lot of recording on minidisc. The battery life with some of their NetMD models can't be beat (8+ hours of record time) and the Atrac compression is pretty decent sounding (good enough for radio production and most music production).

    Some MP3 recorders can record in uncompressed Wav format, but I have yet to see one that can do that without destroying the batteries in the process. Maybe there is a good flash-rom recorder that is broadcast quality that I'm
  • Well thats all great and dandy but sony still does see the need to post drivers for the mac. For their units... Asf!@ Whats the point..
  • I've wanted an inexpensive portable method for recording live bands in CD quality (44100KHz) sound for some time now. I never jumped on the mini-disc bandwagon because of a lack of this feature. Now, they offer a new mini-disc standard and still fall short of CD quality recording?!? As a recording artist, this just plain sucks. Guess I'll keep waiting. sigh...

    Oh, yeah... forgot the obligatory band [odinscourtband.com] link. I need a good /.ing. If you're not interested in progressive rock, don't even bother clicking.
    • Yep, you heard right.

      These new Hi-MD players support native PCM equal-to-CD-quality recording. Goodbye DAT, hello Minidisc - while DAT offers 48KHz sampling, it is nowhere as small and resilient as the minidisc format which was originally developed for portability as a key design requirement. Plus, battery life on the DAT walkmans rarely exceeds 4 hours in ideal situations.

      And if you use the mic input (the specs explicitly mention mic-in so this may not apply to line-in), you can upload your PCM recordi
  • by servognome (738846) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:19PM (#7916112)
    The US portable audio market is dominated by HDD/Flash players, MD has never become a big player in the US except for audiophiles and digital recording. It is a big thing in Japan, I was there recently and MD is the primary portable audio hardware. From Sony's report they are expecting to ship 8M units of the physcal year almost half going to the Japanese market. So before you dismiss MD as an also ran, there is a large market. For DRM issues, the format does not allow second generation digital copies to be made, that means that you can't copy music digitally from MD. Its not actually that big of a deal since most MD recorders/players do not have digital outputs, then again neither do most HDD/flash based players.
  • by WebMasterP (642061) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:19PM (#7916122) Homepage
    I think the more important underlying issue is that we slashdotted Sony's web site (the one with the pictures). Seriously, this is Sony we're talking about here... WTF?
  • years late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by happyfrogcow (708359) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:21PM (#7916138)
    Sony is late and wrong on everything MD. having bought a MD recorder back in the day (why did they even bother making MD that could only play and not record?) i've always felt it could have been so much better. First of all, it takes however long the track is to transfer it too and from the computer or other device. Maybe it's different with the optical in/out, but i never had anything to plug that into. If they had made it a dual functioning device to begin with (ie, audio read/write AND data read/write with no data loss) it would have been more well recieved. they wouldn't have even needed to allow for both types on the same disc.

    How cool would it have been to use a MD recorder as a portable tape drive? i think it would have been very cool. Small, protected discs with decent storage capacity.

    Sony over-specialized this product to death. It was nice to use to record an occasional concert, and to record myself and friends musical sessions. It just could have had so many more uses.

    You almost had it right, Sony. I'd still consider buying something new and less specialized (no DRM, no one-way USB, better transfer methods in general) from someone if it was able to use minidiscs as the media. I'm still wishing I or someone else was able to do some hardware hack to make the original MD recorders more functional along these terms.

    The media cost for MD wouldn't be so bad if it had other uses such as data backup. how much to tapes cost these days? a MD is what, maybe a dollar each? expensive compared to CD's but cheaper than tapes i imagine.

  • by Wonderkid (541329) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:22PM (#7916156) Homepage
    This new Minidisc announcement is more evidence of the fact Sony want people to spent their money on the media, not the device. It's an obsolete paradigm thanks to the iPod and excellent Flash based devices from companies like iRiver. What makes things even worse, is that the media for sony's forthcoming games machine, the PSP, is once again different. There is no media transparency. If they are going to use removable media, why not just stick to Memory Stick, a nice reliable solid state medium, where just 3 or 4 5gig sticks would hold the average person's lifetime music collection.

  • by colanut (541823)
    A new MD format might have been attractive before PC and Macs were real Digital Hubs, but introducing more incompatible (unless you have a Viao) hard/software or marginal improvements in technology doesn't get me interested.

    I did buy into MDs around '98 for portable audio and comp disks. I loved it then. But now it is far easier to arrange a tracks on a computer and burn them out to CD (for the car or friends) or MP3 player. Plus with MP3 (in the generic sense) doubling as removable storage, Sony is way to
  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <teamhasnoi@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:29PM (#7916219) Homepage Journal
    After getting my hands on a prototype, I have found that due to US Treasury restrictions, the new Sony Minidisc Player will not allow any content containing the word, "money".

    As it happens, this rejects the following songs:

    ABBA - "Money, Money, Money"
    COOL MO D - "Mo' Money"
    PINK FLOYD - "Money"
    PET SHOP BOYS - "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots Of Money)"
    BEATLES - "Money"
    PRIMITIVE RADIO GODS - "Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth (With Money In My Hand)"
    SUPERGRASS - "In It For The Money"
    PSYCHEDELIC FURS - "All That Money Wants"
    RAGGA TWINS - "Money"
    DIRE STRAITS - "Money For Nothing"
    WONDERSTUFF - "It's Yer Money I'm After Baby"
    PATTI SMITH - "Free Money"
    LIVING COLOUR - "Money Talks"
    LOU REED - "No Money Down"
    BIG PIG - "Money God"
    PRINCE - "Money Don't Matter"
    PINK FLOYD - "Money"
    STEVE VAI - "Dirty Cash"
    STYLE COUNCIL - "Money Go Round"
    TOM WAITS - "Til The Money Runs Out"
    CYNDI LAUPER - "Money Changes Everything"
    FLYING LIZARDS - "Money"
    NEIL YOUNG - "Loose Change"
    NENEH CHERRY - "Money Love"
    SMASHING PUMPKINS - "Pennies"
    AC/DC - "Money Talks"
    DONNA SUMMER - "She Works Hard For The Money"
    MORPHINE - "Murder For The Money"
    THE CHURCH - "Blood Money"
    MICHAEL JACKSON - "Money"
    EVERCLEAR - "Heartspark Dollarsign"
    SPINAL TAP - "Gimme Some Money"
    PRETENDERS - "Brass In Pocket"
    PUFF DADDY - 'It's All About the Benjamins'

    Plus many, many more. I cannot recommend this product in its current form, as this is unresonable copy protection.

    Strangely, REM's - "It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine) plays perfectly. Hmm. Nothing beats apathy.

  • From the data sheet:

    With the introduction of "Hi-MD," Sony is poised to meet the demands of a growing broadband era...

    then later they mention the speed:

    and transfering data from a PC to the disc at 48kbps with ATRAC3plus

    Well where is the "broadband" coming in here? Ugh... I don't want to relive the days of downloading music over my dial-up connection...
    • As 48Kbps is specified as a codec sampling rate of ATRAC3plus, I would think that this would be what it is referring to.

      According to the PDF specification sheet, the actual data transfer rate of the Hi-MD discs is (a maximum of?) 9.83Mbit/sec, so appraching that of USB 1.1 flash devices.
  • by alleycat0 (232486) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:35PM (#7916324) Homepage
    I use a portable minidisk recorder for recording practice sessions and band gigs - *far* superior to tape, and easier to interface than a DAT.

    What i'd really like to know (can't glean from the links mentioned) is if i can directly access tracks recorded in the field from the PC interface - if so, that would be a significant advantage over the current generation of recorders.
  • Minidiscs have features often absent from iPods and their clones. Features such as both line in and optical line in allowing you to record onto blank media - because of this they're quite common for recording interviews prior to broadcast on the radio.

    If these new ones can store 45 hours of music on a single disk at $7 then for $28 you have as much storage as a new mini ipod. For another $28 you have double the storage.

    With a $7 disc, you can lend a disc to a friend, they can do what they please with it

  • Copy Protection (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vraddict (653878)
    There was mention of this MD/USB copy protection in the most recent issue of 2600, The Hacker Quarterly.

    "...the USB interface was only to be used to "check-out" purchased music from the hard drive to the MD unit. The only permitted function of "checking-in" is to return previously "checked-out" music from the MD to the hard drive, a function that I cannot imagine ever having a use for. Apparently, Sony did not include a truly digital USB/MD option in order to discourage piracy (Sony is, after all, a
  • 5.25" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nightsweat (604367) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:42PM (#7916422)
    So why not bring it out in CD-size and give us, say, 5Gb?

    Why would we want to buy another set of binders to hold our media? I'm firmly convinced the similar look and feel of CD's and DVD's contributed to DVD's success.

    Eventually smaller is not better, but only... smaller.

  • by jgerry (14280) * <jason...gerry@@@gmail...com> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @01:58PM (#7916645) Homepage
    Dear Sony,

    I don't want your MiniDisc technology anymore. I'm not interested in your proprietary removeable media formats. Miniature hard drives are here to stay.

    I've owned 3 MiniDisc recorders in the last 4 years. I thought you were helping me out by putting a USB port on your more recent NetMD devices, but you decided that you can't trust me to upload MY OWN RECORDINGS back to my computer via the USB port. Which has left me in the analog realm, forcing me to plug my recorder into the analog inputs of my sound card to digitize my music. MY MUSIC THAT I RECORDED MYSELF. This is unacceptable in today's all-digital environment.

    I will not be purchasing any more of your products in the future. It's not for my lack of trying -- I loved the idea of a small, compact, recording device that I could carry with me anywhere. I bought 3 of them! But now I want more. Now I expect more. I want direct digital USB or Firewire transfers to my computer. And instead of meeting my needs, you've proffered another DRM-crippled, expensive, proprietary format that doesn't do what I want it to.

    Thanks, but no thanks. I'll be looking elsewhere for my next recording and playback device.

    Sincerely,

    A disappointed (former) customer
  • by Rolman (120909) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @03:30PM (#7918511)
    I'm a long time user and I had mixed experiences with MD.

    My oldest unit, a japanese Sharp MD, had a very reliable and high quality performance, beating anything available at the time (in terms of price/performance/convenience, remember 8 years ago there weren't many CD burners and DAT/ADAT were too expensive and not very portable). It has S/PDIF, Line In and MIC inputs. The ATRAC codec had a very good psychoacoustic model and better yet, it had forward and backward compatibility with several revisions of itself. My parents are musicians and I'm an engineer, so I know what I'm talking about. I still have this unit, it is a really good piece of hardware. Later I had access to an MD Deck that had S/PDIF output so I could record and edit some live tracks on my computer.

    My newest MD, a Sony NetMD unit has also the same inputs (S/PDIF, Line in and MIC), I bought it because it's smaller, has longer battery life, the ATRAC codec is several generations newer and the overall quality is better. I was also hoping NetMD and its applications (OpenMG, Sonic Stage and Simple Burner) would give me a way to upload my live tracks and simply skip the MD Deck stuff, while speeding up the downloads of my tracks.

    But NetMD is a piece of crap. Not only the new ATRAC LP2/LP4 are low quality (which is OK for non-audiophiles who listen to MP3s anyway), but the whole OpenMG/NetMD fiasco is completely useless. Here's a little list of the annoying stuff for your reference:

    - You can't upload any tracks you recorded from other inputs.
    - You can't edit on the MD the stuff you downloaded with Sonic Stage.
    - You can't download in plain ATRAC (only LP2 or LP4) from Simple Burner.
    - The DRM locks the tracks you downloaded to your computer. If your computer crashes, your MDs can't be erased or edited.
    - The protocol is obscure, proprietary and Sony has rejected petitions to solve the above-mentioned issues.

    I can understand (but not accept) Sony feels the need for DRM with all the music pirates out there, but I'm not an MP3 user (there are better formats for me), I don't download music from Kazaa or whatever, I don't buy pirate media, and as a legitimate user I feel I'm the only one screwed by this DRM fallacy. The new Hi-MD would have me interested by the specs, but either they change this attitude or iPod and friends will definitely kill MD for good. The USB Mass Storage compatibility is definitely a good step, but it doesn't clarify if the unit will be able to play the music you download this way or if it will only play the MagicGate encoded stuff.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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