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Sony Announces End For MiniDisc Walkman

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the bloom-is-off-the-rose dept.

Media 191

Beloved of concert tapers for their small size, shock resistance, and long battery life, MiniDisc recorders never much caught on with the general public. I remember playing with one in the early '90s — before high-quality solid state stereo recorders were affordable — and looking forward to the day that I would have one of my own. Playback-only decks were available, but understandably (in retrospect) never became big sellers; when MiniDisc was introduced, CDs were still a recent comer, and 8-track was fresh in the mind. Music fans were probably tired of replacing their vinyl and cassettes with the Next Big Thing. Still, with its cheap media and decent portable recorders, MiniDisc struck a chord for some uses, and stuck around better than the Digital Compact Cassette. Now, 19 years after the introduction of the MiniDisc format, Sony has announced that it will stop shipping its MiniDisc Walkman products in September, though it will continue to produce blank media.

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OMG (2)

Flipstylee (1932884) | about 3 years ago | (#36704698)

Are you like seroius? i just bought 1 like W T F

Re:OMG (1)

Flipstylee (1932884) | about 3 years ago | (#36704752)

Sorry for the double post but i own one and it was nice to have ten years ago.
i guess technology is exponential in growth and delayed in decay? win xp support terminated just recently,
amongst a myriad of other things, google it and produce a graph... maybe a pie chart, those are nice.

Re:OMG (2)

Khyber (864651) | about 3 years ago | (#36704924)

"win xp support terminated just recently,"

Only for SP2, which expired July 13, 2010, and only for 32-bit. 64-bit SP2 will get support until April 8th, 2014. SP3 is still getting support.

Re:OMG (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 3 years ago | (#36705698)

Are you like seroius? i just bought 1 like W T F

That must make you an early adopter of obsolete devices...

Minidisks (0)

hipp5 (1635263) | about 3 years ago | (#36704716)

Still exist?

Re:Minidisks (5, Interesting)

plover (150551) | about 3 years ago | (#36704860)

Still exist?

Exactly! Who knew? When they were released, they came out with their proprietary and incompatible ATRAC compression scheme, and some kind of copy-bit DRM, so I knew there was never any chance of me accidentally buying one. I figured they just faded into the mists of history as another example of Sony sh!tting on their customers. Apparently it was a much longer walk into the mists than I thought.

Incompatible with what? (2)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 3 years ago | (#36705040)

It was 1991, dummy. mp3 came around in 1993.

MiniDisc was the only game in town and there was nothing wrong with creating ATRAC when there was nothing else out there.

Besides, it didn't matter that it used ATRAC because it only output and input PCM data, just like a CD player or DAT recorder did. It only input and output 32Khz PCM audio in real-time. There was no USB and transferring 200MB (the size of a MiniDisc) over serial was impractical.

SCMS (the copy protection) was annoying, but it was put on because of the labels, Sony didn't want to limit their product. But their previous product, DAT was driven off the market by the music labels, so if they wanted their new venture to succeed they had to do something for the labels. It was trivial to strip.

Sony continuing to use ATRAC for music once storage-based players came around that you loaded by copying files was dumb. They should have noticed it was hurting their products' viability a lot earlier.

Sorry, 32KHz, 44.1KHz or 48Khz audio (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 3 years ago | (#36705158)

It did it over S/PDIF (usually optical).

I left two of those off.

Re:Incompatible with what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36705328)

ATRAC later gained a superior (in my opinion) lossless format. You could rip a CD to lossless ATRAC, and then transfer a lossy version to your portable ATRAC player, no recoding required. I wish their was a way to do this with mp3, FLAC, or even Apple's lossless format.

Re:Incompatible with what? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 3 years ago | (#36705330)

The Mini discman I had would have been PERFECTLY capable of laying down MP3s to MD, but Sony was stupid and insisted everything be converted to ATRAC. This was in 2002.

Re:Incompatible with what? (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 3 years ago | (#36705416)

Because if you put an mp3 on your MiniDisc, the player couldn't play it, just as if you put an ATRAC file on your mp3 player. So no, it wasn't PERFECTLY capable of laying down mp3s to MD.

In 2002, you probably should have gotten an mp3 player instead of a MiniDisc player.

Re:Incompatible with what? (1)

willoughby (1367773) | about 3 years ago | (#36705336)

SCMS (the copy protection) was annoying, but it was put on because of the labels, Sony didn't want to limit their product.

How times have changed. "Limiting their product" sure doesn't bother them now.

Re:Incompatible with what? (1)

plover (150551) | about 3 years ago | (#36705436)

Did I say what formats they should have been compatible with, like MP3? Did I not say proprietary? Did I say anything about the timelines? And you call me "dummy"? Nice uncalled-for ad hominem.

Besides, you're the one who's claiming Sony didn't want to limit their product. Sony has had a resolute and unyielding drive to limit their products ever since they bought Columbia Records in '87 and Columbia Pictures in '89. They are the industry leaders in DRM technologies, from SecuROM, MagicGate and SDMI, CSS, AACS, NTSC/C, and HDCP, just to name a few of their initiatives. They've been a force for evil and incompatibility for 24 years. So don't piss in my pocket and tell me it's raining.

yes, you mentioned timelines... (2)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 3 years ago | (#36705594)

You mentioned a timeline when you said:

'When they were released,'

That's 1991, before mp3. Let's set you didn't mean mp3, what else did you mean in 1991? There was no other digital formats except CD and DAT and MiniDisc was compatible with them because it used S/PDIF as input and output. You set a timeline to 1991 and then complain about things that don't make sense in 1991.

Proprietary doesn't mean anything in this context. Secure Digital is proprietary too, it's just widely adopted. Probably the SD Card Association was more reasonable on pricing than Sony when it comes to licensing fees. And SD took off.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital#Openness_of_standards [wikipedia.org]

'MagicGate'

MagicGate is no different than the "Secure" part of Secure Digital. Device makers can use it to write content in such a way that it can only be read back on that device.

HDCP is Intel, not Sony.

I'm not sure where SDMI came from I can't find any info that says Sony was behind it.

A lot better things than MiniDisc came out later, but in 1991, it was the best thing going. Sony stupid kept trying to ride that instead of jumping into the new business of mp3 players and they paid the price for it.

Re:Incompatible with what? (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 3 years ago | (#36705940)

SCMS (the copy protection) was annoying, but it was put on because of the labels, Sony didn't want to limit their product.

Sony is also a label :)

Re:Minidisks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36705000)

Sonofabitch. I just finished ripping all my beta tapes to minidisc. Now what?

Re:Minidisks (3, Interesting)

That Guy From Mrktng (2274712) | about 3 years ago | (#36705438)

Rip them to SACD [wikipedia.org] Or MS PlayForSure

Nobody have been burned trusting their music to Sony or MS, ever!

Now what portable recorder? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36704726)

So I guess people who used to use portable MiniDisc recorders will have to switch to portable flash-based or hard drive-based recorders once their MiniDisc recorders give out. What brands are any good?

Re:Now what portable recorder? (2)

plover (150551) | about 3 years ago | (#36704938)

A musician friend of mine just picked up a TASCAM DP-008. [tascam.com] He was debating on whether he should buy a USB-2 or a Firewire based A to D system, and decided something he could take along to live shows without bringing the whole laptop and cable thing was even better. I think he paid about $299 for it.

Takes SDHC cards, so an 8GB card will hold a lot of sound. But while it's an "8" track device, it can only record two tracks at a time (you can record two while playing back up to six others, supposedly it's good for live performances playing backing tracks.) And he's said the built-in microphones were "adequate".

Re:Now what portable recorder? (1)

JavaBear (9872) | about 3 years ago | (#36705088)

The TASCAM DP-008 hardly fits in a (normal) pocket...

Re:Now what portable recorder? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36705402)

True. These are the handheld models [tascam.com] . They look pretty nice, albeit not cheap for some (e.g., the DR-2d costs $449 or so). Newegg [newegg.com] by Zoom for $299 [zoom.co.jp] . I have no particular experience with either of these, but $100-400 seems typical [amazon.com] for hand-held solid-state sound recorders, rather than the "voice" ones that are pretty variable in quality. There seem to be plenty of options to replace MiniDisc recorders. I'm kind of surprised it took this long for MiniDisc to go extinct.

Re:Now what portable recorder? (1)

plover (150551) | about 3 years ago | (#36705450)

No, it certainly isn't pocket-sized. If you were to show up at a concert with one, even the most cursory obligatory no-liquor-inside pat-down would find it.

Re:Now what portable recorder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36705682)

I have the Tascam DP-03 which is unobtrusive, takes microSDHC cards and USB interface, built-in stereo microphones (and is even better with binaural mics), and encodes on the fly either raw 44.1 khz, 48khz .WAVs or 320 kbps and 192 kbps .mp3s. It's a very nice little unit and cheap (under $100).

Re:Now what portable recorder? (1)

residents_parking (1026556) | about 3 years ago | (#36705816)

The Zoom H1 is a good fit. It's a significant upgrade from MD while being very affordable.

Re:Now what portable recorder? (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 3 years ago | (#36706022)

Get a Zoom H1 or H4n, they have excellent battery life and the H4n can lay has XLR microphone inputs (and can run phantom power!) if you need that. Sony also makes a PCM-D50 which is more expensive but it has a real gain pot for the microphones and it has better mics than the Zoom onboard ones IMHO -- on the Zoom you can only control the mic gain by hitting buttons, so you hear a big "click" on the recording when you tweak levels.

nothing of value was lost (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36704740)

And nothing of value was lost.

Unless perhaps your name is TIMMMMAAAAAAHH.

Too bad (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | about 3 years ago | (#36704742)

I wanted a cheap MD-Data drive but they weren't available at the time; to me, Minidisk recorders themselves mostly became affordable just around the time that they were ceasing to look the best option. Maybe if I'd been older and had more funds, things would have been different. It's all a bit of a shame though because it was a cool technology that I did want to play with.

loved minidiscs (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 3 years ago | (#36704750)

They were awesome for recording music. I still have mine somewhere I believe. It is sort of a shame to see them die but the disks are a hassle.

Excuse me? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 years ago | (#36704756)

with its cheap media and decent portable recorders

There were a lot of things to describe minidisc, but cheap is not one of them. It was not cheap in comparison to any other media you could buy at the time, which may well have been a part of why so few people ever bought it. Minidisc was a neat idea, but it was never at a practical price point.

Re:Excuse me? (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about 3 years ago | (#36705102)

They were a lot cheaper than DAT (digital audio tape) equipment and media. Even though Minidisks used compression, the quality was, for most enthusiasts, more than adequate. That is why I got a Minidisk, after looking long and hard at portable DAT equipment.

Re:Excuse me? (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about 3 years ago | (#36705464)

It was in the rest of the world. I remember visiting the US thinking "cool, I can stock up on cheap MD discs since everything is cheaper than in the UK" and was amazed to find that the media was expensive since no one seemed to be interested in the format. It was a superb replacement for tape at a time when no one had even heard of "mp3s".

None of the "pro" MD decks Sony released (which are still used in radio - they are common in the industry) had the stupid SCMS copy protection that was mandated on the consumer hardware, but even with that limitation (unable to make copies more than one generation down using optical/coax digital connections) it was awesome.

Lots of people moaned (as does TFS above) that "I just replaced everything with CDs and now there's this?!" but it was never designed to replace CDs - it was designed to replace analogue tapes - a task it excelled at.

I still use my MD deck from time to time. Enough that it's plumbed into my audio setup (via optical connections - I don't have to worry about "evil proprietary" ATRAC).

Quite popular outside the U.S. (4, Insightful)

amaupin (721551) | about 3 years ago | (#36704758)

...MiniDisc recorders never much caught on with the general public.

Never much caught on in the U.S., you mean.

In the late 1990's, early 2000's portable minidisc players/recorders were incredibly popular in Japan and Europe.

Re:Quite popular outside the U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36705014)

This is absolutely correct, They never were very popular here in Canada either but i would say at least a third of the international students i knew from europe back in 2000-2004 had minidisc recorders and/or players and a sackful of the bloody things. This was especially apparent among the music department internationals.

Re:Quite popular outside the U.S. (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 3 years ago | (#36705558)

I think 1/3 is pushing it and while I don't have very many friends or know what players all of them had atleast I know two persons who had minidisc players, and one of them had two at different times. I also think someone had a DAT deck.

This was probably around the pre 128MB MP3 player but post CD-introduction novelty.

The obvious advantages being size and record-ability.

Both factors and also wasn't they more shockproof ? make them much better choices than regular CD players (which could also have a memory for some shockproofness.)

However not all of them could record which is kinda stupid unless you have a deck as well which one of the guys had.

Enter MP3 format and downloadable music and the fact you couldn't transfer music from your PC to your MiniDisc without recording the sound and you start to see how the format would fail.

Later that was fixed by introducing the NetMD but since Sony is Sony they decided to keep their encoding technique and don't adopt to MP3 so you still had to convert the music and transfer it with (still Sony being Sony) their software.

I guess Apple had joined the game by now and was obviously just as retarded since Apple is Apple. But maybe they could play MP3s and if nothing else transfer maybe worked smoother / less retarded software?

I was looking at NetMDs but this just seemed all to retarded.

Late there was HiMD which I think might had solved this or if it just gave better storage but still no MP3s, I don't remember, but it was a little to late and if they missed either factor they also missed me as costumer. Too little too late, Sony failed it.

Later Sony also introduced flash-memory based music players, but guess what? They didn't played MP3 either.

Well done Sony. You're so fucking retarded.

Very late they fixed that to but by then iPod carried much more heft than Walkman. And while putting Walkman on Sony-Ericsson phones might had added some value to the brand and phones by now I think they have killed the brand?

USB transfer and native MP3 playback and Sony might still had have the lead and have offered magneto-optical expandable portable music players. But that would had required Sony not being Sony.

Sony, I am disappoint (1)

Megane (129182) | about 3 years ago | (#36704776)

Sony has tried again and again to get its proprietary media formats accepted by the public, but with the exception of the 3 1/2" floppy (when Apple and HP chose it over the other two competing formats), none ever stuck. And even that was a failure as a digital camera media format. The next closest was Beta, which lost against VHS, with only a niche afterlife in the different BetaCam format.

UMD is all but dead (once the PSP goes end-of-life it will truly be dead), Memory Stick (the Duo version, at least) is still holding on due to Sony's own Not Invented Here mentality about the industry standard, MiniDisc never was more than a niche in the US. Anything else they came up with is so obscure that I can't even remember it right now.

Farewell and good riddance to another orphan Sony media.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

daitengu (172781) | about 3 years ago | (#36704844)

I think you're forgetting Blu-Ray.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (2)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 3 years ago | (#36704980)

Does blu ray really reach the definition of "accepted by the public" though?

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | about 3 years ago | (#36705220)

In Canada it seems to have pretty decent success... though Apple is really hindering it... I know a lot of people who stopped buying DVD when they bought Bluray players/drives, and I admit, I'm one of them - but many of my friends in school or early into their careers never bought TVs and just run everything from their computers - and more than a few of them have Macbook Pros as their only computer. At which point, short of buying an external drive, and a copy of Windows, and installing boot camp, and rebooting into Windows every time they want to watch a commercial Bluray disc, they aren't watching Bluray on their machines. Many of these people appreciate the visual quality of Bluray, as laptop users they do sit quite close to their screens, and download caps from their campus wireless or their ISP means they aren't exactly in a position to download a whole lot of HD content, but until they get diferent computers (as Apple shows no signs of admitting there is a use for optical media in this world still) they'll just never switch from DVD. But in terms of success, I mean, even my parents have a bluray player. They actually got one before I did, because they were moving into a new house, buying a bigger TV, and wanted to be able to buy and stuff in HD.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

Megane (129182) | about 3 years ago | (#36705256)

Ah yes, Blu-Ray. I forgot about it because it doesn't exist to me.

It's not accepted by ME because 1) I don't need that high resolution (older eyes for one thing), 2) I don't need Sony's flavor of DRM, and 3) I don't want to be subjected to more unskippable ads. When downloading, I go for the 480p version. I like that I can rip a DVD whenever I want to for format-shifting. I like that I can use "unofficial" DVD player software and skip ads.

And it only won because Sony basically bought out the competition.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#36705536)

You do realize that you can just remove the protection, right? The encryption has been broken for quite some time now. AnyDVD HD [slysoft.com]

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

bluemonq (812827) | about 3 years ago | (#36706080)

1) Uh... okay, sure.
2) Easily removed.
3) Easily removed/skipped.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

westlake (615356) | about 3 years ago | (#36705548)

Does blu ray really reach the definition of "accepted by the public" though?

The neighborhood Red Box rents Blu Ray. Blu Ray disks and players are prominently displayed at the Walmart superstore less than 10 miles up the road.

That is a pretty good working defintion of mainstream - suburban - acceptance.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | about 3 years ago | (#36706002)

It feels like it is on the edge of being accepted. DVD's still feel more popular for some reason. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 3 years ago | (#36705020)

Blu-Ray is a moderate success, but it's not really a "Sony" format. At least no more than CD and DVD were.

The Blu-Ray association had a number of members including Philips, Thompson, and Samsung.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36704846)

Blu-Ray says hello.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36704852)

bluray retard.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36704928)

bluray retard.

Is that like Down Syndrome?

Doctor: "I'm so sorry Mrs. Jones. But your son has Bluray Retardation. We have social workers that can help you cope with your special needs child or if you want, we can help you put the child up for adoption."

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 years ago | (#36704872)

the 3 1/2" floppy (when Apple and HP chose it over the other two competing formats), none ever stuck. And even that was a failure as a digital camera media format

Back when the Sony Mavicas were using 3.5" floppies I was working at CompUSA (before it was Comp-Mexico, of course!). I worked the camera/upgrades counter quite a bit, and I was always surprised how much of a premium people were willing to pay for those stupid Sony cameras. Granted, smartmedia and compactflash were the dominant standards of the time and they were maxing out at 32 and 64mb respectively, and weren't cheap. But it still beat the hell out of carrying a bag full of floppy discs, and they were dramatically faster in read and write - and battery life was far superior on those than the Sonys.

Yet some people apparently wanted low-res battery-sucking cameras that used floppy discs. And I was happy to sell them those cameras.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | about 3 years ago | (#36704916)

Most likely it was because you could read the floppy on any computer, while memory cards required a special reader, or you had to connect the camera to the computer (and remember to bring the cable) etc. And carrying a bag of floppies wasn't all that different from carrying a bag of film. Also, if you ran out of either, you could go to a store and buy some, since they were affordable.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 years ago | (#36705064)

And carrying a bag of floppies wasn't all that different from carrying a bag of film

Except that floppies held fewer pictures than a roll of film, and were less reliable.

And a smartmedia/compactflash card would hold a lot more, at higher resolution.

Also, if you ran out of either, you could go to a store and buy some, since they were affordable.

It didn't take long for the cards to cost less per megabyte than floppies, and they read and wrote much faster.

And if your Sony camera battery went dead, you were hosed. Only the Sony charger could charge the Sony battery, which was heinously expensive if you were out somewhere and forgot either. Many other cameras at the time ran on AA batteries, and made it a lot longer on a set of batteries than the Sony cameras made it on a charge, as the other cameras had no moving parts to suck down battery life.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

grumling (94709) | about 3 years ago | (#36705708)

I would imagine most of your customers were Realtors®, a group not known for their technical prowess.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 3 years ago | (#36704914)

My thought exactly.

My first reaction, was let it just die already and GIVE UP. I do not like Sony. Infact, I hate it. My ex had a Sony camcorder, Sony Vaio, and a camera. She freaked out when I lost her only memory stick for the camera. Why? You can't get it anymore. Memory stick 2.0 is not compatible with 1.1 or whatever it was and they no longer sell it. Lose the stick and the Sony Camera is useless. Also her Vaio only accepted these sticks. If she upgraded to a laptop that didn't get 200F and melted her clothes, she could not upload her photos.

Terrible products and it seems only a small minority use them, but those of us that do are stuck on an upgrade use trendmill every few years. I will never buy a Sony product. In the 1980's Sony meant quality and made great walkman and TV's but it seems American style management made them go cheap and use proprietary hardware like IBM to milk its consumers.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36704952)

Ever heard of something called Compact Disk? That used to do well. DVD is still going strong and Bluray is doing better than I expected with digital download/streams as competitors. Sony had something to do with developing of all these disk formats.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36705080)

So it seems that Sony formats can succeed but only if they're co-developed by other companies.

I suspect part of this is a perception that you don't really want to compete with the organisation that owns the technology.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

Megane (129182) | about 3 years ago | (#36705292)

Compact Disc: Industry association led by Philips. (Though a guy at Sony did insist on the 72 minute requirement.)
DVD? Another industry association.
Blu-Ray: I see no reason to have it, as DVD is more than "good enough" for me. Also, it only won after Sony effectively bought out the competition.

Re:Sony, I am disappoint (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 3 years ago | (#36705356)

Mini-Disc wasnt a total failure, it did enjoy wide adoption in certain regions. The main problem was Sony trying ot be Sony and hold the reins of technology too tight.

Audio quality (1)

JavaBear (9872) | about 3 years ago | (#36704814)

I haven't found anything else with comparable audio quality. I know the ageing ATRAC codec used on Minidiscs are inferior to the latest generation codecs, such as AAC, but the D/A converters and amplifiers were far superior to those in the latest portable units, even iPods which are not just hampered by poor amplifiers, but also shoddy encoding and a high level of dynamic compression in iTunes. And I must say that as a portable recorder they actually seem to be cheaper than comparable solid state recorders.

Re:Audio quality (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | about 3 years ago | (#36704960)

IIRC some of them could record in uncompressed PCM. Maybe I should look into buying one. I sometimes want to record audio to a digital format but using a PC to do that (and using the PC for anything else while it records) leads to glitches, so I'd like to record to some device then copy the data to a PC, right now recording to PC is less convenient than recording to a cassette, but sometimes I want to have the music in a digital format.

Re:Audio quality (1)

JavaBear (9872) | about 3 years ago | (#36705068)

Most, if not all of the Hi-MD recorders have LPCM as an option, here you get about 90 minutes on a 1GB disc, and the last version of their SonicStage utility you can up- and download any content, even "protected" discs, from their Net-MD units. I still use my Sony MZ-RH1 on occasion, which is identical to their MZ-M200. On an ending note, I said it back when the PSP came out, and I'd like to repeat it again; Sony should have used the Hi-MD format in their PSP, and settled on a slightly modified higher density version for game content if necessary. UMD have a 1.4GB capacity if I recall. The main problem with Sony is that when it comes to Consumer products, they just can't stop "fixing" things that aren't really broken.

Re:Audio quality (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 3 years ago | (#36705384)

UMD wasnt a terrible idea, it was that Sony never let us make burn our own discs. Name one popular media format that DOESNT have recordable media.

Re:Audio quality (1)

hjf (703092) | about 3 years ago | (#36705782)

Name one popular media format that DOESNT have recordable media

Vinyl.

Re:Audio quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36705844)

Vinyl records?

Re:Audio quality (1)

jsdcnet (724314) | about 3 years ago | (#36705072)

I haven't found anything else with comparable audio quality. I know the ageing ATRAC codec used on Minidiscs are inferior to the latest generation codecs, such as AAC, but the D/A converters and amplifiers were far superior to those in the latest portable units, even iPods which are not just hampered by poor amplifiers, but also shoddy encoding and a high level of dynamic compression in iTunes. And I must say that as a portable recorder they actually seem to be cheaper than comparable solid state recorders.

iPods don't encode anything. Maybe you're thinking of iTunes? If your encodings are shoddy, use a different encoder. The dynamic compression ("SoundCheck" in Apple lingo) can be disabled via the Settings menu. iPods are also capable of storing and playing Apple Lossless (ALAC) files, which sound identical to the original source.

Re:Audio quality (1)

JavaBear (9872) | about 3 years ago | (#36705180)

The problem with dynamic compression sticks deeper than the players and recorders. Hardly any music released today is worth listening to, and the "loudness war" have just made bad releases (and remasters) worse. An example. I had an old CD, dating back to the early 90's. Sadly it had to endure one too many dorm room party. I stumbled upon a re-release of that groups music at a nice low price, but I was finding my self unable to enjoy the music. I don't have "enthusiast" ears, but something was wrong with it. I then bought one of the tracks on iTunes. and it was tee same. I finally managed to rip that track off the old CD, with a not of problems on it, but enough to be able to look at the wave form in an editor. Comparing the three tracks in question the waveform was dramatically different. The original release was very dynamic throughout the track, most of the track was sitting at -6dB or less, with transients (and errors) spiking now and again. This is how it should look. The other two were pretty much a solid block from start to finish, with nearly no segment dropping below the nearly ruler straight top and bottom peaks. This is why the bass on mist audio these days sound like is it "drowning" out everything else for a short while before and after the bass hit. And that the bass sound more like someone hitting a wet whoopee cushion rather than a bass drum. It's a general problem for the industry, but iTunes' re-encodes and the poor quality hardware in the iPods are just making things worse.

Re:Audio quality (1)

JavaBear (9872) | about 3 years ago | (#36705190)

Ok, where the hell did all my linebreaks go??

Re:Audio quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36705446)

Almost like your post was dynamically compressed.

media / reader (4, Interesting)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | about 3 years ago | (#36704826)

Since floppy discs have died I have missed having a medium which I could copy to then give away and which could be reused as easily.

Re:media / reader (1)

hitmark (640295) | about 3 years ago | (#36705376)

Glad i am not the only one. I still would love to see cheap 5x-10x packs of small usb sticks or similar. There are ways to format optical RW media to behave like floppies, but it never seemed to catch on. Likely because of the "rarity" of the drives and cost of media when introduced. And perhaps a lack of native support in Windows. Tho one format i tried had the "feature" of auto-installing the required driver on first insertion.

Sony botched it. (5, Insightful)

guytoronto (956941) | about 3 years ago | (#36704836)

I worked in the radio industry from 2003-2005. MiniDisc was huge then. Unfortunately, Sony in all their "stop piracy" wisdom made it almost impossible to transfer digital content OFF a disc. It was easy enough to record digital content onto the disc (I would hook it up to digital out on my cable box, and record hours of music), but if you wanted to transfer off the disc, you had to do it via the analogue headphone port, or you need a specialized high-end deck.

That was the most frustrating part of the MiniDisc format. My $300 MD player/recorder was crippled. It would have been nice to record an event (plugged into the board at a wedding), and then dump the audio to my computer for editing. But nooooo....Sony didn't want to give me that flexibility.

Re:Sony botched it. (1)

Elbart (1233584) | about 3 years ago | (#36704964)

And even if this feature had been available, SonicStage would have driven you insane anyway.

Re:Sony botched it. (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about 3 years ago | (#36705060)

That is interesting: I have a Sony Minydisk dEck of that wintage (2003) and it has a fibre digital out port. Though things might have changed immediately after this deck was released.

Re:Sony botched it. (1)

hitmark (640295) | about 3 years ago | (#36705248)

Yea, around the netMD/MDHD time the only devices that could do quick extraction of the audio was professional-market products.

Reminds me of some plug system i read about that one would only find on similar such products today for handling digital video.

Re:Sony botched it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36705796)

But if you would settle for real time transfer, you just needed an SPDIF device that ignored SCMS in order to get the audio off... For a computer, there were sound cards that qualified.

Re:Sony botched it. (1)

BancBoy (578080) | about 3 years ago | (#36705772)

... but if you wanted to transfer off the disc, you had to do it via the analogue headphone port, or you need a specialized high-end deck

I wouldn't call the many SCMS "busting" boxes that you deployed along the SPDIF line to "disable" SCMS, a high end deck.

The cost of a consumer MD deck plus a SCMS box was far far cheaper than the professional MD Decks that basically had that SCMS disabling functionality as a feature.

UH... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36704894)

Sony sucks?
(This is Slashdot after all...maybe we can fit in something about "nano" whatzits too...)

8-track was hardly "fresh in the mind" (2)

91degrees (207121) | about 3 years ago | (#36705042)

It was very much a 50's format. Hardly anyone had bought one for a decade. The format was losing popularity by the end of the 1970's. Even Vinyl outlasted the format.

Compact cassette was still fresh in the mind, and minidisc was seen as a replacement recordable medium - a benefit not provided by CD.

Sony ruins everything (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 3 years ago | (#36705098)

Sony is a company that cannot balance its products and services against its media and publishing. It is torn between offering innovative products and services and keeping media and publishing happy. Microsoft attempted to please media and publishing interests and Vista was the result. Microsoft saw the error in this but Sony cannot simply because it is too entrenched in those interests because it embodies those interests.

In general, I think it can be shown that media and publishing interests will never EVER be satisfied. The more they are given, the more they want and we all know inherently, there is no limit to greed. We see this in music, video and game entertainment industries all over. We all bemoan the changes they keep imposing but we, the consumer, are unable to influence their changes enough. Ideally, we vote with our dollars, but in reality, when we do, they arrive at the wrong conclusions and blame "piracy" and crap like that.

Re:Sony ruins everything (2)

hitmark (640295) | about 3 years ago | (#36705320)

The IP sector is based on rent seeking on non-rivalrous goods. This means that they can rent something out to a infinite number of customers at the same time. A bit like a apartment building with infinite capacity. But with infinite capacity it also means that anyone could find a place there, and the price of housing is based on scarcity and need. So they need to keep a sharp watch on all entryways so nobody on the inside allows anyone on the outside in.

Re:Sony ruins everything (1, Informative)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 3 years ago | (#36705502)

Microsoft certainly did NOT see the error. The same HDMI handshake bullshit that was in Vista is in Win7. GO ahead and play a DVD on Win 7 without a full HDMI path and watch Win 7 purposefully output a blocky picture. Microsoft also fucked with the audio mixing so it makes it alot harder to mix streams (to appease the RIAA which also breaks games like Bioshock and CoD4 that cant be launched without a mic attached now.)

Re:Sony ruins everything (1)

hjf (703092) | about 3 years ago | (#36706006)

I think Sony, as most japanese companies, works exclusively for the Japanese market. They see the "rest of the world" ass "less than relevant". Sony is big. Really really big in Japan. But so are other companies you know about but don't usually see in other markets (Mitsubishi for TVs come to mind). And the japanese public seems to be happy enough with what Sony offers them (or maybe they design their products based on Japanese tastes).

And I know it's pretty much all over the spectrum of japanese products. At the early days of BD-R you could only get BD-R DL in Japan. Sony made them, but sold them only there - the rest of the world had to work with BD-R or grey-market Japanese-labeled BD-R DLs.
I run a comic book store, and book editors are always complaining about rights management for japanese series. Some japanese companies are simply not interested in licensing manga comics outside japan. It's not a money issue either (foreign publishers are willing to pay), they see that 90% of manga is consumed in japan and only the remaining 10% is sold outside. Maybe the numbers are similar for electronic products?

There is an amazing number of Sony products used in pro-land. U-Matic/Betacam decks, cameras, etc. Sony makes basically everything a TV studio needs for broadcast - and I'm pretty sure in Japan there are companies that are exclusively sony. But outside japan you see a mix of Canon, Sony, and "other brands you've never heard about". I was amazed to see a HUGE projector from Sony that's exclusively sold in Japan. The optics were out of this world. The front element was 15CM in diameter or larger, and the whole thing was about the size of a 20" CRT TV. But these are available internationally only as grey-market imports.

Maybe Sony, simply doesn't see a relevant market outside Japan and that's why *we* non japanese people think Sony formats are dead. But they're doing just fine in the land of the rising sun. I wouldn't be surprised if you could walk into some Akiba store and find brand new Beta tapes for sale.

Wasted opportunity for Sony (5, Insightful)

Digital Pizza (855175) | about 3 years ago | (#36705184)

When Minidisc was announced I thought it would be a perfect removable storage solution; at the time people were using Syquest drives for "large" (44 and 88 MB) removable storage, and they were pricy; there was a market waiting for something cheaper yet still reasonably fast. I think a Minidisc could hold 250MB or something like that - good storage at the time, relatively cheap, and would probably have been pretty reliable.

However, Sony's anti-piracy worries made Minidisc inaccessible digitally - there were no Minidisc readers/writers and you could only use it for recording/playback of ANALOG audio!

Soon Iomega came out with the very popular 100MB ZIP drives and Sony's window of opportunity closed - and we got to enjoy crappy Iomega quality and the infamous "Click-of Death".

Sony does come out with cool tech sometimes, but their entertainment division screws it up every time. I guess Sony made their money from Minidisc, but they could have done so much more with it.

Re:Wasted opportunity for Sony (1)

master811 (874700) | about 3 years ago | (#36705456)

When Minidisc was announced I thought it would be a perfect removable storage solution; at the time people were using Syquest drives for "large" (44 and 88 MB) removable storage, and they were pricy; there was a market waiting for something cheaper yet still reasonably fast. I think a Minidisc could hold 250MB or something like that - good storage at the time, relatively cheap, and would probably have been pretty reliable.

However, Sony's anti-piracy worries made Minidisc inaccessible digitally - there were no Minidisc readers/writers and you could only use it for recording/playback of ANALOG audio!

Soon Iomega came out with the very popular 100MB ZIP drives and Sony's window of opportunity closed - and we got to enjoy crappy Iomega quality and the infamous "Click-of Death".

Sony does come out with cool tech sometimes, but their entertainment division screws it up every time. I guess Sony made their money from Minidisc, but they could have done so much more with it.

That's wrong. I still have my old MD player which could also record from a Digital Optical out on any CD player via Toslink cable.

Re:Wasted opportunity for Sony (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 3 years ago | (#36705520)

Very few models could do that , and it wasnt until much later in the game, long after Iomega came onto the scene.

Re:Wasted opportunity for Sony (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 3 years ago | (#36705820)

You couldn't do data via MiniDisc in any reasonable fashion, but you could certainly do digital audio.

Re:Wasted opportunity for Sony (1)

mrmeval (662166) | about 3 years ago | (#36706190)

All that Sony has left is the glory of the past. They're still culturally traumatized by the Betamax ruling and losing to VHS. They tried to bribe their other crippled child bluray to dominance but have failed again. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Killed by the mp3 player (1)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | about 3 years ago | (#36705232)

I had a minidisc player in college that I purchased for two reasons. One, you could hold a few albums' worth of cds on a single disc, so you could carry around a larger library, and the ability to fast forward from track to track made it a lot more convenient than cassette recorders for putting together mixtapes but having the ability to skip and rewind songs. Those features were quickly overtaken by mp3 players, with even more accessibility.

The second reason I liked the minidisc was that it had a mic input. I carried around a small microphone, and I occasionally recorded bits of shows, or I recorded ambience to use in little sound projects that I had. Today I have an iPod touch with a built-in mic, which is plenty adequate for recording those bits of audio in the real world that I want to hang onto. However, the iPod doesn't have a mic input, so I can't stick in a better mic and record something at a higher quality. But that one feature isn't really enough for most people to still want to carry around a disk of physical memory. Maybe someday I'll break out that little recorder for field recording again.

Re:Killed by the mp3 player (1)

Andreas Mayer (1486091) | about 3 years ago | (#36705470)

Today I have an iPod touch with a built-in mic, which is plenty adequate for recording those bits of audio in the real world that I want to hang onto. However, the iPod doesn't have a mic input, so I can't stick in a better mic and record something at a higher quality.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=ipod+touch+mic [lmgtfy.com]

Re:Killed by the mp3 player (2)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 3 years ago | (#36705568)

Actually, your iPod touch does have a mic input, that extra metal band on the headphone jack. It's how I use my G3 Ipod touch for skype, since it lacks the internal microphone. There's a tiny little microphone built into the wire of the original equipment headphone that comes with the iPod. That built in mic is the only thing that justifies the high price of the Apple brand original equipment earbuds that you can buy for a pricey $30.

Re:Killed by the mp3 player (1)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | about 3 years ago | (#36705644)

Well shit, I consider myself enlightened.

How old are you submitter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36705396)

Minidisc was released to market in 1992, cds we're already on the market for multiple years at the time and 8tracks hadn't been around in over 20 years. Oh wait timothy submitted this, we're lucky it makes any grammatical sense, being factual would just be icing on the cake.

Ahhh memories (1)

defcon-11 (2181232) | about 3 years ago | (#36705430)

I remember downloading .mp3s from Audio Galaxy over my dial up connection at 15 minutes per song, and then recording them to my portable MiniDisc player via a sound card with a digital optical cable port back in '97 or '98. Good times. I tried to listen to some of them a couple of years ago, but the format must not be very stable, cause the discs were all dead.

Good riddance! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36705620)

God, ATRAC sounded awful. A guy at work had an ATRAC3 device. We took one of my CDs and recorded a song. I took about three seconds to hear the obvious artifacts. It had the worst temporal stepping of decaying sounds I have ever heard.

Re:Good riddance! (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about 3 years ago | (#36705720)

cool story bro

The minidisc remotes (1)

moreati (119629) | about 3 years ago | (#36705652)

What I miss most from my old MZ-R35, is the headphone remote. By modern standards it was large, with more controls than an iPod Shuffle, but everything was usable one handed by touch alone. The rewind/seek controls were a twist cap. I had a half hearted go at adapting one, but it would take more SMD fu than I can muster.

So long Mini-Disc

Matrix movie prop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36705668)

In the Matrix, when Neo is selling digital drugs to the couple at his apartment door, the delivery device was a Sony mini disc. The mini discs were hidden inside the hollowed out Simulacra & Simulation book.

moD down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36705760)

Filed countersuit, have somebody just Members' creative sales and so on, my calling. Now I Gone Romeo and to the original dying. Everyone BSD fanatics? I've And the striking during t4is file my efforts were and abroad for By fundamental I don't want to a popular '8ews distribution. As correct network conflicts that another folder. 20 fucking confirmed: things I still are the important Not so bad. To the Of business and only way to go: log on Then the project faces a set Creek, abysmal not going to play create, manufacture Host what the house my bedpost up my

Old recordings (1)

grumling (94709) | about 3 years ago | (#36705900)

I had a MD player back when I was impersonating a gym rat. Kind of a pain to use, but more convenient than a cassette or CD Walkman. I liked that it ran on a single AA battery for a few hours and had a digital optical input. I think it was less than $100, but the discs were expensive and hard to find.

A few years later I got into operating portable satellite ham radio. Most people record their QSOs because things happen too quickly to log contacts. The MD was easy to interface with my radio, had a way to mark important spots on the recording with one button, and fit in a pocket.

So it WAS a useful format for some things, but basically had no purpose once mp3 players and digital recorders came on the market. Now a cell phone held next to the speaker of my radio works good enough for logging, and if I want better quality a cheap Olympus digital recorder will perform as well as the MD recorder.

Great tool for journalists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36706160)

Minidisc was a terrific cassette replacement for radio reporters. I used consumer (not pro) units during a stint in Eastern Europe in the late 90s, including covering the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Much better audio quality (no tape hiss), and the MD Walkman recorders weighed a fraction of the Sony cassette recorders most of us used. Plus, there were usability features like track-marking and time stamps and long-duration recordings that were a vast improvement over analog cassettes.

Pro hardware was extensively used in radio studios as a replacement for tape carts, which were cousins of the 8-track, and were widely used for playing commercials, jingles, PSAs, and singles back in the top-40 era. The radio network where I used to work still has MD recorders in many if not most of their studios. I used to use them to record a backup copy of telephone interviews, which were recorded to a server somewhere for editing. Having the MD backup saved my tuchus on more than one occasion.

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