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Music Media Portables Hardware

New Walkman-Branded Hard Disk Player 433

Posted by timothy
from the 25-years-in dept.
Darian writes "Following on the heels of Commodore's introduction of portable digital music players Sony has stepped up to the plate with their first Walkman branded product. Reuters has the story and The Register has a couple more photos. Gizmodo has an anonymous tip from a Sony insider. The NW-HD1 is a 'credit card-sized' 8.9m x 6.2 x 1.4cm unit fitted with a 20GB 1.8in hard drive. There's enough RAM on board to provide 25 minutes of skip-free playback. There's a seven-line LCD for track information and player status data. "We couldn't come up with something using the Walkman brand until it survived the 1 meter (3 ft 3.37 in) drop test," said Robert Ashcroft, senior vice president of Sony network services Europe. So digital music rights had nothing to do with it? Right. The unit is planned to undercut the iPod price point. Apple lawyers do have the upper hand with the scroll wheel." Update: 07/01 21:34 GMT by T : It's also the Walkman's 25th birthday; read on for more.

Player Blog writes "The Sony Walkman, icon of the 80s and direct ancestor of the iPod and its ilk, first hit the streets 25 years ago. I don't know if July 1, 1979 was the actual first day for the Walkman, but Sony is celebrating it today. I had one, I loved it and I thought it was the greatest invention ever. Take a trip down memory lane with the history and photos at the Walkman Museum."

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New Walkman-Branded Hard Disk Player

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  • Prior art (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neomac (97478) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:45AM (#9580718) Homepage
    Doesn't Atari's paddle controller count as prior art?
  • by nadadogg (652178) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:46AM (#9580726)
    It only plays the ATRAC format, which sounds like garbage. I'll dig up the listening test article later. The Ipod does so well because Apple prefers that people use the AAC format, but supports MP3, because that's where the money is.
    • by Boone^ (151057) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:48AM (#9580750)
      This is going to flop pretty hard. I hope Sony doesn't invest too much in it. I'm all for players being cheaper than my iPod, but not if the quality/features suffer.
      • by WoodenRobot (726910) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:08AM (#9580939) Homepage
        When I saw the thing featured on the BBC website, I was tempted. But there's no way in hell I'm going to buy a product that will make me use some lame format such as Atrac3, especially if I need to run the conversion software on Windows, where presumably it's going to be all 'user friendly', and therefore a nightmare to use. I've copied 100's of my CDs to my hardrive, and I've not got the patience to convert them all to another format. Although it's far from perfect, MP3 is the universal standard of music encoding, so excluding the posibility of using it is commercial suicide.

        There has to be some twisted logic behind this move, either an attempt to make Atrac the format of choice for digital music storage (won't ever happen) or to rigidly enforce DRM, which will just piss everyone off, especially /. types, who are also presumably early adopters of new gadgets such as this.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          you make a good point about Sony products being trashed by their own obsession with DRM and proprietary formats. Take the NetMD Walkman (the MiniDisc player/recorder with the supposedly 32x USB transfer port). I bought one as soon as I could, as I have lots of music on vinyl and nothing beats being able to just plug-n-dub vinyl to a portable that can also take MP3s. It did record quite well from analog sources, but the Sony software for transfer to the device via USB set a new nadir for terrible software.
    • by nadadogg (652178) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:50AM (#9580770)
      This shows how nasty their format sounds [rjamorim.com] compared to Ogg, mp3, aac, wma, and mpc. The test is done with multiple listeners ranking them from 1-5. Pretty well done, and now I'm probably going to be making the move to ogg once I start ripping my own stuff. Well, that, and moving my home pc to gentoo.
    • by dave1791 (315728) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:57AM (#9580841)
      This is a blatant attempt by Sony to get more people to use its online music service. I see a potential pitfall here. No, I actually see a white elephant for Sony. If it only plays ATRAC and every other player (IPOD included) supports the de-facto standard (MP3), it will fail in the market. Period. Are all of Sony's players ATRAC only? Why are they attaching their most recognized product name to this dud?

      Proprietary standards work in segmented markets still in infancy. Like it or not people have MP3 collections and will not be keen on converting to use the device. Prediction - In 2005, Sony will release a walkman that also supports MP3.

      • "NOOOOO!!!! Don't say standard!!! It's closed source. Only oggs are acceptable for my ears. Everytime I hear an mp3 my ear drums burst."

        Sorry, I couldn't help myself as that is the required slashdot response when someone says "mp3" and "standard" in the same sense. I agree with you though, mp3s will always dominate because they have no DRM and they sound damn good enough to just about everyone. And all this paranoia about people thinking some day their "closed music collection" will be inaccessable
    • by mblase (200735) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:04AM (#9580901)
      MP3 support isn't a problem, exactly -- the Register article says that Sony's connection software will convert MP3s to the ATRAC format, which has a smaller file size (and no royalties) and thus makes sense for Sony to use.

      It's a shame that it won't play MP3s natively, though, because that would doubtless save a lot of time on converting a large library. Users and reviewers will decide for themselves if the sound quality is worth the price and package.

      As for the Sony online store, a year ago it might not have made any difference -- Apple's iTunes was just getting off the ground and most people were using iPods to listen to their own CD collections, not music they bought online. Now that Apple's got iTunes Music Store working well under Windows, it's a real advantage for them -- but by no means an unconquerable one. However, IMO the iTMS is so darned easy-to-use -- and often enjoyable, with the improvements they've made over the past year-- it'll take some truly hard work to overtake it.

      Apple doesn't have this market locked up by any means, but they know they have to keep pushing to stay ahead. Sony will catch them if given the chance.
    • Neuros II (Score:4, Informative)

      by 4of12 (97621) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:06AM (#9580930) Homepage Journal

      I've been researching MP3 players and found the Neuros. [neurosaudio.com] It has an extensive list of different formats, including Ogg [vorbis.com] as well as the others.

      The key features of the Neuros that are motivating me to buy one are the "record stream from FM" (as well as record from any audio input or onbord mic) to MP3 or WAV, and the "broadcast low power FM" (so I can listen through my car stereo on an unused frequency.)

      To be balanced, though: there were some user complaints about the power level of the FM broadcast not being sufficient, but these were not universal. The Neuros II, which seems to have come out in the past couple of days, is supposed to help fix some of the version 1 drawbacks.

      Frankly, about the only thing the Neuros lacks now are 100bT with on board Apache, 802.11[abg] interfaces (it has USB 2.0), but there don't seem to be many player/recorders out there with those right now.

      • Re:Neuros II (Score:4, Informative)

        by The Cydonian (603441) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:31AM (#9581153) Homepage Journal
        Interesting, they seem to be trying to develop an open source community [neurosaudio.com] around their product. Some very interesting ideas:- an open firmware, an XML db for the Synchronisation Manager, and oh, they seem to be using .net code in their apps. Hmmmm.
        • Re:Neuros II (Score:4, Informative)

          by Adam9 (93947) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:52AM (#9581390) Journal
          Also check out their forums and their own Bugzilla.

          You'll find many happy customers who regularly give input to their CEO and developers about the Neuros.

          Just recently, they added a DJ feature that lets you shift speed and other neat effects for your music.

          Disclaimer: I love my Neuros and I don't work for them.
        • Re:Neuros II (Score:4, Informative)

          by Unknown Lamer (78415) <`clinton' `at' `unknownlamer.org'> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:28PM (#9582734) Homepage Journal

          The Support is really great. When I botched a firmware upgrade they replaced my head (there is a head with the processor and a backpack with the battery and HD) for free (I just had to pay send shipping; they covered return shipping). The USB 2 upgrade, although greatly delayed, only cost $6 for shipping as well. When I dropped my Neuros while the HD was spinning they even told me the model numbers of 80G laptop drives they had tested with the unit. Even when they aren't making money they are helpful.

          The backpack is simply a standard USB Mass Storage device and the database is very well documented. There are four different sync managers now (NSM, Positron, NeurosDBM, and Sorune) and the source is available to all of them (NSM isn't Free Software though; the license has a few restrictions). The only downside is the size but, honestly, what you lose in size you gain back in flexibility (e.g. when I broke my HD I just got an 80G laptop drive for $150 and swapped it into my backpack). It's the ultimate geek music player.

      • by evilviper (135110)
        I probably would have bought one if it wasn't for:

        1. The large size.
        2. The high price (MUCH smaller units are quite a bit cheaper)
        3. You still need their software installed to use the Neuros, even though there happen to be open source implimentations.
    • by Pivot (4465) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:15AM (#9581013)
      Sony suffers from the NIH syndrome. They insist on using ATRAC and they insist on using Memory Sticks. In the end it is the consumer who is suffering. My advice: stay away.
    • Not so ATRACtive (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nanojath (265940) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:21AM (#9581060) Homepage Journal
      More than this - for me part of the attraction of an HDD player is it can double as a portable hard drive. I actually own a minidisc portable - I use it for exactly one thing, as a one-button live recorder, and it works really pretty good at that (for battery life, size and ease, compared to others I've tried). But because of Sony's blinkered insistence on confounding the potential of their hardware, it is fundamentally just an analog recording device for my purposes. Post recording basically all I can do is output analog via the headphone jack - sorta stupid, IMHO. As I said, at the time I bought it it came out best comparing price point, sound quality, size/weight, battery life, media capacity, and simplicity. It beats microtape recorders hands down. I imagine HDD based recorders that write (I would hope) straight to WAV files will come around price wise.

      But if I'm going to drop a fair piece of change on an HDD recorder (and I'm not yet convinced I need one) I want to be able to put data OF WHATEVER FORMAT I WANT on it. I can at least sort of justify the price then.

    • Sony invested quite a bit into their ATRAC format in terms of R&D. True, the higher compression ATRAC3 sounds crappy, but the original ATRAC actually does sound decent, better when compared to low-sample rate MP3 (128k or so). The main selling point for this compression (from what Ive read in researching ATRAC and Minidisc) is they split the waveform into high/mid/low frequency bands, and compress each at a different rate. Since high-frequency requires more bandwidth to retain detail, it gets more, whil
    • It only plays the ATRAC format, which sounds like garbage.

      ATRAC sounds PERFECT at the bitrates it was originally designed for (namely, about 1/7th the bitrate of CDs).

      It's their forey into the range around 128Kbps that sounds like crap.

      On MiniDiscs, they went out of their way to say those rates were only for speech, and similarly low-quality material. They contradict themselves, I'm afraid, by using the lowest bitrates in marketing when they want to list the highest "number of songs".

      I don't think the

  • Great... (Score:2, Informative)

    by marnargulus (776948)
    now if they cut the price of this to less than 200 dollars, I might consider it. As of now, I'll stick with my giant 200 Gig harddrive based computer-mp3 player in my car.
  • by _PimpDaddy7_ (415866) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:47AM (#9580740)
    Looks very slick but my concerns are:

    1. The jog wheel, looks AWFULLY small. Look at the guy's thumb on that!

    2. That green-lit color screen doesn't look too friendly on the eyes.

  • by delibes (303485) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:47AM (#9580742)
    8.9m x 6.2 x 1.4cm

    8.9 metres? And that's a portable walkman is it? What will these wacky foreigners think of next? :)

  • About time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak.eircom@net> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:47AM (#9580745) Homepage Journal
    I was wondering when this would come about. A lot of other compnaies, notably Creative, have ventured onto the HDD walkman market already. But with a big player like Sony involved, maybe we could see a little competition in this market.

    Although in exchange for cheaper walkmen we could be subjected to DRM Hell.

    P.S.
    What happened that other story?
    • by Simonetta (207550) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:46AM (#9581334)
      The first time that someone unfamiliar with DRM Hell finds that they can't play one of their music recordings because the manufacturer specifically designed the unit not to play a recording for corporate reasons alone (which is is DRM is), then there will be an intense anger towards the product and the company that sold it.
      For this reason alone, Apple should welcome the low-cost competitions that don't play MP3. [They should, however, not be as blatently and embarrassingly arrogant as they were when the welcomed the IBM PC.]
      MP3 is the world standard for digital music files. Every other digital music format is rightly seen as just a corporate scam to suck money out of customers. OGG is an exception, but OGG will never amount to anything until its files are transparently interchangable with MP3 files and work on players that only play MP3. When I say 'only' play MP3, I mean it plays MP3 along with whatever proprietary worthless corporate format that the unit was bundled with (such as whatever Apple has on the iPod along with MP3).
      A corporate digital music player that only plays the corporate recordings that customers purchased from the corporation in a propropietary format is nothing more that an overpaid marketing executive's 'wet dream' (or, a sexual fantasy sleep dream that results in nocturnal orgasm, for those who are not familiar with this American expression when used as metaphor. We are an international audience here on Slashdot.) Such a product will flop in the real world regardless of its price or tech specs, as Sony is about to find out.
      Sometimes I almost feel sorry for these guys that are so caught up in a corporate groupfuck that they have to blow away hundreds of millions of dollars in obviously stupid products before they finally release something successful. Especially when they could have had it right the first time if they had just asked us what we wanted to buy in the first place and taken our answers seriously.
  • Loss of quality? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by craigmarshall (679127) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:49AM (#9580756)
    From The Register:

    The NW-HD1's primary format is Sony's own ATRAC 3 Plus - other formats are converted to that mode when they're transferred over to the player.

    So... If I transfer parts of my existing collection (MP3 and OGG Vorbis), it'll get "re-encoded" into the ATRAC format? Will this lead to a loss of sound quality?

    Craig
    • Yes, definitely. It's one of the most stupid moves Sony could make. Even if there was no loss in quality who wants to have to convert their whole collection?
    • Nobody seems to think much of ATRAC3 itself, but that's not the truly awful part anyway.

      The awful part is that they're talking about taking data that's already been mutilated by an MP3 encoder, and then mutilating what's left by encoding it again. MP3 gives you an approximation of the CD. Sony's player will give you an approximation of the approximation.

      But this is why Sony's not crazy: The users can't hear the difference. Most users insist that 128k MP3s "sound just like the CD". These are the same peo

  • by darth_maul25 (635479) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:49AM (#9580761)
    How can Sony expect this to take off using their own "special" format that can't be shared, transferred or otherwise used with other players and music stores? What's Sony thinking? Where's the logic behind this?!
  • by ballpoint (192660) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:49AM (#9580762)
    - other formats are converted to that mode when they're transferred over to the player.

    When will Sony ever learn ?

  • Site feeling slow... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Reg Kit Watch Sony today announced yet another attempt to displace the iPod from the top of the digital music hardware charts.

    But unlike the clunky-looking players launched in the Japanese market, the European model appears a serious challenger for Apple's market leadership.

    The NW-HD1 is a "credit card-sized" 8.9 x 6.2 x 1.4cm unit fitted with a 20GB 1.8in hard drive. There's enough RAM on board to provide 25 minutes of skip-free playback. There's a seven-line LCD for track information and player stat
  • The NW-HD1's primary format is Sony's own ATRAC 3 Plus - other formats are converted to that mode when they're transferred over to the player.

    Anyone know if the conversion is done on the walkman or by the host computer? Sounds like it'll slow down the transfer rates, and reduce audio quality (transferring between formats multiple times can't be good)...

  • Damn.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by adeyadey (678765) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:50AM (#9580769) Journal
    "We couldn't come up with something using the Walkman brand until it survived the 1 meter (3 ft 3.37 in) drop test,"

    Damn it, I'm over 1 meter tall, guess I'll have to wait for the next model..
  • by Azrael Newtype (688138) <c.a.eads@gmail.com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:50AM (#9580775)
    According to the Yahoo article, it'll ship at about $400, undercutting Apple's 40GB iPod which retails for $499. Am I the only one here who noticed that it's not really undercutting? I mean.. I'm no Apple junkie, but $99 more for double the capacity, are we really fair saying Sony is undercutting?
  • Atrac-3 a mistake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirFlakey (237855) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:52AM (#9580784) Homepage
    "The NW-HD1's primary format is Sony's own ATRAC 3 Plus - other formats are converted to that mode when they're transferred over to the player."

    Afaik that is the same format as they use in their newer Minidisc's - and it's a BIG mistake in my opinion and not just because it needs to do on-the-fly conversions.

    Simplicity would be nice.

    The 'NetMD' minidiscs sucked because nothing but realplayer (still haven't forgiven them) could sync with them .. I have a feeling this won't be much different (ok I conceed nothing but iTunes syncs with the iPod out of the box - but at least it handles things in standard mp3/4 rather than realaudio)

  • Music technology (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Guitar Wizard (775433) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:53AM (#9580791) Homepage Journal
    I don't see why MiniDisc hasn't been a bigger format than it is. Sony is pretty much jumping the competition by releasing High-Capacity MD recorders in the near future, with MDs that hold 1 GB as opposed to 180 MB on the current MDs (don't quote me on those specs). Why would you limit yourself to the size of a hard disk when you can carry around a few tiny discs that have hours upon hours of high-quality music on them (in ATRAC format). Speaking of ATRAC format, I believe that it sounds pretty swell. If I'm correct, the current spec is ATRAC3. ATRAC is similar to the way MP3s are encoded -- simply shed the ultra-low and ultra-high end frequencies that the human ear supposedly can't hear and save space (obviously more goes into compression than just this). I think MP3 sounds really good when done in high-quality VBR, but ATRAC3 sounds pretty decent too when encoded at highger bit-rates. Nothing will ever beat the warmth of vinyl or the superiority of DVD-Audio, however!
    • The reason MiniDisc sucks is because Sony deliberately crippled it to be a music-only format. You can't access a MiniDisc as a data device from a computer.

      In addition, why carry a stack of 20 MiniDiscs when you can carry the same amount of music on the hard disk?
    • Re:Music technology (Score:3, Interesting)

      by boobert (7652)
      I use to have an MD player and currently have an ipod mini. Sony's main problem was transfer speed. The older MD players you had to record to at normal speeds. When they finally came out with higher transfer rates it was only in the exspensive units and only worked in windows. Also i really like the interface on my ipod and the fact tthat it has a date book and a few games on it. Also I'm pretty sure the newed HDMD disks or whatever they are called are going to be just as exspensive as MD disks were wh
    • by thparker (717240) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:17AM (#9581028) Homepage
      High-Capacity MD recorders in the near future, with MDs that hold 1 GB.... Why would you limit yourself to the size of a hard disk when you can carry around a few tiny discs...

      I think you misspelled forty. At least, that's how many "tiny" discs I'd need to replace my iPod. (Forget that the hard disk IS the player, where you'd be carrying the tiny discs AND the player with MD.)

      Even with the iPod mini, there's a distinct advantage (imo) to having it all in one place, where I can shuffle through my all favorites using iTunes smart playlists. I'm just not interested in breaking my music into 1 GB chunks to accomodate the limitations of MD.

      BTW, you got a price on those 1 GB blank minidiscs yet? I think that'll make this deal a little less attractive, also. It's great if this solution works for you, but it doesn't make sense to me.

      And you're right -- I really miss the sound of LPs. Especially brand-new ones. You just can't beat virgin vinyl.

    • Re:Music technology (Score:5, Interesting)

      by evilviper (135110) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:28AM (#9581116) Journal
      MiniDiscs haven't caught on simply because Sony is dedicated to DRM. SCMS prevents you from making a copy of a copy (eg. you can't copy the MiniDisc you mixed together from several CDs), and they've really been seriously limiting the MD hardware.

      I know everyone would have loved to have a MD-RW drive in their computer at the time, and even now their high capacity drives would make a good contender, because they are dirt cheap, in a caddy so they can't really get damaged, and they can be re-written millions of times, unlike CD-RWs while like to crap-out after a dozen or so.

      Sony dropped the ball on MiniDiscs. They had every opportunity to take over, but their hard-cord DRM plans prevented them from ever making anything most of the public wanted.
  • Surprised (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shione (666388)
    surprised yet glad to see Sony finally embracing new(er) technology for delivering music.

    I remember reading an article on Wired about the civil war going on inside sony. The hardware side wants to build music devices giving consumers the features they want, while the entertainment (music/movies) side wants to restrict what consumers can do with their content.

    quoting from the article, Keiji Kimura the vice VP at Sony headquarters in Japan, said this on the ipod "We do not have any plans for such a product
  • Skipping? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by op00to (219949) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:55AM (#9580819)
    ... Does anyone else think that if your hard drive player is skipping, you've got more problems than your music being interrupted? Don't hard drives hate getting knocked around? Don't heads smash into platters when you bounce them around? Sure, it's got a long-ass skip buffer, but what good is it when the hard drive is trashed from you jumping up and down?
    • Re:Skipping? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LocoSpitz (175100)
      Well, you don't have to be shakin' the thing up so bad it skips to benefit from a buffer on an HD player. It takes a lot of power to run the hard drive, so if you can spend a few seconds and dump 25 minutes of music to RAM and then park the drive, it's real good for battery life.
  • Hmmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by daringone (710585)
    So, I can get an iPod for $499 and store 40GB of songs, or spend $100 less and get *half* the storage. *shaking head*

    *font=sarcasm* Who are the marketing geniuses at Sony?!? */font*
  • by mblase (200735) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:59AM (#9580858)
    ...consumers will soon be able to download songs from the European Sony Connect online store - which appears to have entirely failed to launch in June, as promised.

    Nice of them to promise it will fail to launch, I think. Saves us the trouble of griping and complaining about it after the fact.
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:01AM (#9580881) Homepage
    Mmm... Sony is making a portable music device which uses a proprietary music format to cut down on piracy. However, the portable device is 40 gigs, so it will hold about 10,000 songs. At a buck a song, that's 10,000 bucks. The product will last three years, tops before it dies. Who in the fuck is going to spend $10,000 on music in three fucking years?!?! That's buying 9 songs per day, everyday, for three years!

    Furthermore, it appears that it cannot be used as a portable hard drive.

    Thus, the ONLY way this new device could be useful to consumers is if they infringe copyrights and download music illegally. If that's the obvious intent of the product, then why does Sony even bother with its ATRAC 3 Plus format and give the people what they want?!

    • You seem to think that people will actually use all this space. In fact, it boils down to the "bigger is better" mentality that consumers have in general. The average joe will usually go for a device that can store 10,000 songs over 4,000 because its MORE. It's the same process that keeps PC retailers selling high powered machines - people will tend to buy the most powerful computer they can for the smallest tasks, regardless of whether or not they will use all the power or not.

      Its the same thing with th
  • by spoonani (786547) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:02AM (#9580889)
    Now if i could only eat enough mcdonald's meals to get 13,000 free sony connect songs!
  • by nmg196 (184961) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:03AM (#9580895)
    Imagine if all your credit cards actually *were* the size of this "credit card sized" device... Your wallet would be more like a laptop case and would weigh about 30lbs. I wish they wouldn't keep exaggerating the sizes of products...
  • by bugmenot (788326) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:04AM (#9580898) Homepage Journal
    SO why didn't they name this device the HardMan?
  • Is the only way to move data onto this device through Sony's proprietary SonicStage application, or does it do the sensible thing and give you file system access to the box as a USB storage device?

    If not, this is just a hard-disk MiniDisc, with the same stupid music-only restriction that killed the MiniDisc players.
  • by nikster (462799) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:12AM (#9580973) Homepage
    It is expected to sell for ... less than $400 in the United States, Sony said, undercutting Apple's 40-gigabyte device, which sells for $499


    ok?! why not compare it to the 20G iPod, being as it is that the Sony one is a 20G player as well?
    the 20G iPod costs $399 as of now (and probably less when the sony is launched...).
  • by gotan (60103) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:13AM (#9580983) Homepage
    The device uses USB 2.0 to hook up to a PC running Sony's own SonicStage software

    So that means apart from the fact that i have to rely on Sonys proprietary Formats for the audio and i need Windows just to interface with the thing i can't even use the thing as an external HD? How silly is that?

    When i buy what is in effect a 20GB HD with headphones i want to be able to carry some data on that. Now my mobile doubles as digital camera, organizer, handheld game and whatnot, but that sony thing serves only as a walkman just because they lobotomized the PC-Interface?
  • by GlobalEcho (26240) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:14AM (#9580995)
    Volumes (in cubic centimeters)

    iPod mini: 59
    Walkman HD: 77
    iPod: 100

    Pretty good for a 20GB unit, though! I'll probably stick with iPod for myself.
  • by DLWormwood (154934) <[moc.em] [ta] [doowmrow]> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:15AM (#9581003) Homepage
    You would think the cradle this thing uses would support FireWire/i.Link as well as USB 2.0. Sony helped to develop the technology, and they use it in their Vaio PCs to boot. If they are already using their own tech for the codec, why not for the connection interface?
  • Whuaa??! (Score:5, Funny)

    by chadseld (761331) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:18AM (#9581037)
    "credit card-sized' 8.9m x 6.2 x 1.4cm " 8.9 meters!! Holy crap, what kind of credit cards to they use in Japan??!!
  • by nullvector (694435) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:22AM (#9581068)
    No one wants to use Atrac.

    I used a Sony Minidisc for about a year until I grew tired of the ultimately CRAPPY quality of the Sony Software. It literally took 6-7 minutes to import, convert, and transfer just 10 songs to the device, using a 2ghz, high-end system at the time. And that is when the program didnt crash all by itself.

    And then, there is no 'one click transfer/convert'. You had to import all your mp3's into the 'library', which made another physical copy of the file, then it converts it, and saves the Atrac to your hard drive, yet again.

    When will companies learn that we do not want DRM, or custom formats.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You know, I bought the first MD machine in early 93. Back then, it was like I just stepped off a flying saucer when I put in a disc. People would stare. Back then, using fiber optics to record CDs, even in real-time, was cool.
      But now, Sony has dropped the ball. I just bought a Hi-MD unit on impulse. (I can be that way)
      Sonic Stage is an unbelievable pain. Even if I use the cracked non-DRM version, it still has to do the things you say. What's the point in having a 1GB Minidisc if I need more than that in HD
    • by jfmerryman (670236) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:56AM (#9581429) Homepage
      When will companies learn that we do not want DRM, or custom formats.

      When we don't buy them. If there's one thing big companies can do it's count money. Look at what happened to the Circuit City "DIVX" DRM-crippled DVD rental system, or all of the DRM-heavy music rental services like PressPlay - good riddance!
  • by donfede (6215) * on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:49AM (#9581360) Homepage
    Why bother with sony (one of the bad guy companies), when there is already a great hard drive solution on the market that is cheaper, and more compatible than the alternatives. I've had my rio karma for almost a month now (after years of searching for a viable portable music player), and I have no regrets. I can easily upload music to it from my linux environment, the "nipple" (:-D) control is easier to use than the ipod, and it plays all my ogg-vorbis (and flac also if I had any) files with no problems!

    donfede
    • And pocket unfriendly! yay! :-P

      There's simply no debate about portable MP3 players any more. Apple released 3 generations and one sub-brand of the iPod in a few years, each one achieving critical acclaim and market dominance. Review after review finds the user interface superior to any alternative out there. OGG doesn't matter to 99.99% of the users out there (and quite rightly so - being technically superior doesn't automatically guarantee universal takeup).

      You can add music to iPods under any OS eas

  • by MunchMunch (670504) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:49AM (#9581361) Homepage
    From the news.com.com story [com.com]:

    "Both devices use Sony's ATRAC3 music format and also play back MP3, WAV and WMA audio formats."

    Sloppy reporting on news.com.com, or an error for the Register?

    • Sounds like sloppy reporting from news.com - check out the Reuters [reuters.co.uk] story.

      And, just to add a voice to the fugue, there is no way in hell I would consider buying this product. First off, their press release is filled with marketspeak lies: "price undercuts a 40GB iPod!!" (er, actually their unit only has half the storage but they encoded the songs at 48Kb/s and compared it against Apple's standard bitrate of 128Kb/s so they could claim that it fits more songs and hope idiot consumers won't figure that out.)

  • by SetupWeasel (54062) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @11:05AM (#9581503) Homepage
    Hasn't anyone else noticed this?

    Look at a Sony branded CD-R drive. It says "Make audio CDs" right on it as one of the features. What good is a mini-disc player if you can't copy music to it? (or a tape playing Walkman for that matter) Now a hard drive based music player? This is all part of the plan I think.

    Sony knows the score. They want money, and they know that the type of piracy that takes place over the internet helps sales.

    So for the music or game industry they create an illusion that they are tough on piracy. They make a lot of angry press releases and "Digital Rights Management," to appease the industry, but they leave their copy protected media very easy to circumvent. They would lose money if they didn't.

    And if they get some money from lawsuit against a 15-year-old... BONUS!

    That is what upsets me so much about Sony. They'll prosecute piracy, then reap the rewards by helping it to continue, and they don't care who pays.

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