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New Walkman-Branded Hard Disk Player

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the 25-years-in dept.

Music 433

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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433 comments

Yes (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9580715)

Music is great.

Prior art (4, Insightful)

neomac (97478) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580718)

Doesn't Atari's paddle controller count as prior art?

Re:Prior art (4, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580946)

Even better would be the Intellivision [intellivisionlives.com] controller. In fact when I first saw the iPod that's EXACTLY what I thought of =)

Re:Prior art (4, Interesting)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580955)

The idea of a scroll wheel has been around on synthisizers for over a decade as well. So yes, in that sense the patent is bogus. But I would assume the patent is also for the laptop-style touch sensitive scrolling.

Re:Prior art (1)

Giggle Stick (673504) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580965)

I was thinking about the Intellivision controller. It had a round disk that was basically like a thumbpad on todays controllers. I seem to remember some game where you had to do a rotating type action on it to play. Isn't that like what an ipod does? I've never messed with one.

Re:Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9581011)

No. The paddle controller solves a completely different problem and it is not obvious to someone knowledgable in the arts to apply the Atari paddle idea to an mp3 player's menu selection.

too bad it doesnt do MP3 (5, Interesting)

nadadogg (652178) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:too bad it doesnt do MP3 (3, Insightful)

Boone^ (151057) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:too bad it doesnt do MP3 (5, Insightful)

WoodenRobot (726910) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580939)

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.

here's the article with listening tests (5, Informative)

nadadogg (652178) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:here's the article with listening tests (0)

op00to (219949) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580988)

Did you actually read the report? It says nothing about how "nasty" the codec sounds, only preference of the people who happened to go to the website, download the software, download all 203 megs of audio, figure it out (not a small feat for your non-computer savvy folks), complete the tests, send it back in ...

First, I'm not quite sure that this was an "honest" or fair test... It was conducted over the internet, with no visible control over speaker settings, crappy sound cards, or what have you. Vorbis was tuned to yield the best results. Atrac was not. The tester used a "testing" version of Orbis. This guy is comparing a highly tuned open source codec to something which is commercially available.

Try not to get easily fooled by graphs. The difference between the formats in that report might LOOK big, but it's because they've trickily zoomed in on the "significant" part of the chart.

Re:too bad it doesnt do MP3 (1, Interesting)

rebeka thomas (673264) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580807)

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.

The money is the brand, and everything else is second. While Apple may have a current spike in popularity, Sony is and always has been THE name for portable music. As soon as this hits the shelves, it's going to change the world for Apple, and for the worse.

There are still millions of people who know "Sony Walkman" as the only way to listen to portable music, and its their money that counts. Cheaper than the iPod, and since any other music format can be converted easily to ATRAC, to me that's a revolution right there.

Re:too bad it doesnt do MP3 (5, Insightful)

nagora (177841) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580882)

There are still millions of people who know "Sony Walkman" as the only way to listen to portable music, and its their money that counts.

There's a lot more now that know "MP3" as the only way to listen to downloaded or ripped music - that's why iPod supports it.

Cheaper than the iPod,

80% of the price for 50% of the capacity?

This product is a dead duck.

TWW

Re:too bad it doesnt do MP3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9580933)

How much is Sony paying you? Whenever I hear "Sony Walkman" I think of a portable cassette player, NOT a cd or mp3/aac/wmp player. Until Sony matches iPod/iTunes/iTunes Music Store integration, people will continue to buy iPods.

Re:too bad it doesnt do MP3 (5, Insightful)

Des Herriott (6508) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580962)

Nah. "Walkman" was big in the 80's and 90's. iPod has the mindshare now (and I'm admitting this as a Rio Karma owner :-)

Someone else said it, and it's true: this thing doesn't play MP3, so what's the point? It's just a glorified Minidisc player.

You are crazy (3, Insightful)

Heywood Yabuzof (255017) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580977)


Sure, back when tapes were all the rage, "Walkman" was the generic term for portable music. Sony has already missed the boat. These days, it's "iPod". Everybody knows what an iPod is, and what it looks like. It has become as generic as "Xerox" or "Kleenex".

Also, people who buy portable digital music players (especially expensive ones) ALREADY have thousands of songs in whatever format they like, most likely mp3. Given the choice between one that plays mp3s and one that converts to ATRAC, they will choose the mp3 player.

Re:too bad it doesnt do MP3 (3, Insightful)

jamie812 (720355) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580816)

Sony has been dragging it's heels in supporting MP3 for years. I initially thought they wanted to perfect a perfect IPOD-killer before jumping to MP3, but now I know that they just don't get it.

NOTE TO SONY: MP3 is the default format of digital music files PERIOD. We're sorry if it doesn't incorporate the stringent security features you would like. We understand that you run a music business and would like to protect your investments. However, you are also in the hardware business, and hardware, to be successful, should conform to the most popular formats out there. Your main competetitor, Apple, understands this. Why can't you? Do you like spending millions on R+D just to see you products tank?

Re:too bad it doesnt do MP3 (4, Insightful)

dave1791 (315728) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:too bad it doesnt do MP3 (4, Informative)

mblase (200735) | more than 9 years ago | (#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 (3, Informative)

4of12 (97621) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580930)


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:too bad it doesnt do MP3 (2, Interesting)

iainl (136759) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580989)

While I find ATRAC to be the nicest sounding compressed format by a long, long margin (speaking as an owner of several minidisc players), I will agree that there is a big, big problem with this; Sony's SonicStage software which you have to use for it is the most horrible DRM-heavy piece of rubbish I've ever had to deal with for this sort of thing.

iPod or iRiver for me, and just put up with the fact that I can't get quite as much on in a lossless format.

Great... (2, Informative)

marnargulus (776948) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580736)

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.

Re:Great... (1)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580823)

Only in the car? What would you do if say your car broke down and you had to take the train? I can just imagine someone sitting on the train with a large brief case containing a few 12v SLA batteries, an inverter and a mini-itx based computer just to listen to music "portably". What ever happened to just listening to the radio? Oh that's right, they only play "popular" music now don't they?

Re:Great... (1)

Bombcar (16057) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580985)

I used to do exactly that, until I got my iPod.

Most Amtrak trains provide 120V, so it worked just fine.

Looked a little silly, though.

Blah blah, Sony, DRM, no OGG... (-1, Troll)

Lardmonster (302990) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580737)

Blah blah, Sony, DRM, no OGG...

Re:Blah blah, Sony, DRM, no OGG... (1)

benito27uk (646600) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580782)

If you want a hard drive music player that supports OGG then have a look at the iriver hp140 [iriveramerica.com] also includes an FM Tuner

Re:Blah blah, Sony, DRM, no OGG... (1)

aflat362 (601039) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580806)

screw OGG. It won't play MP3

As with Sony's other players, the NW-HD1 plays songs in the company's proprietary ATRAC format only, meaning it is not compatible with other online stores and cannot play tunes in the popular MP3 format.

This product will fail!

Re:Blah blah, Sony, DRM, no OGG... (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580921)

This product will fail!

"Who cares", said the music companies, applauding the fact that it at least didn't support formats without DRM. :-P

Re:Blah blah, Sony, DRM, no OGG... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9580936)

its Ogg [vorbis.com] not OGG

Looks pretty slick... (4, Insightful)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Looks pretty slick... (1)

craigmarshall (679127) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580781)

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

I disagree, I have a Canon Powershot A40 camera with a similar sized wheel (for modes, etc.) on the back. It's fine, not too small at all.

Craig

Re:Looks pretty slick... (2, Insightful)

mab (17941) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580932)

Who cares about the jog wheel it can't even play mp3's

Dimensions?! (5, Funny)

delibes (303485) | more than 9 years ago | (#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? :)

Re:Dimensions?! (1)

nadadogg (652178) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580786)

Maybe that's the version for the Easter Island region?
Ya gotta thing about those sorts of things, be PC, etc.

Re:Dimensions?! (2, Funny)

duranaki (776224) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580931)

How close to mark is needed in marketing anyway? "credit card sized" and 1.4cm thick?? I think my credit card is maybe 2 or 3mm thick... why not just say its "nearly the size of a tic-tac"?

About time (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580745)

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?

Re:About time (1)

macmaniac (734596) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580780)

From the look of that article, it's not much cheaper at all than the highest end iPod. Sure, on half the hard drive it claims to hold more songs, but only in Sony's format, not standard ones. It's only, IIRC, $30-40US cheaper than the 40GB iPod, which has twice the hard drive.

Loss of quality? (5, Interesting)

craigmarshall (679127) | more than 9 years ago | (#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 (1)

tentimestwenty (693290) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580779)

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?

Sony never learns (1, Funny)

DrXym (126579) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580759)

All musics formats are converted to ATRAC when they are transferred to the device. What is the point I wonder. By implication it means the sound quality will suck in comparison to other players on the market.

Still, it give me a reason to ignore their latest music player, just as I have their earlier efforts for the same reason. And the price no doubt.

Sony must be clearly flush with cash if they can afford to put people off their products so readily.

Re:Sony never learns (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580792)

It may survive the 1 meter drop test but if the sound quality sucks will it survive the 1 meter SLAM test?

Re:Sony never learns (1)

ballpoint (192660) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580793)

Ah, you beat me by a few seconds with the 'Sony never ever learns' line. Do great minds think alike ?

Re:Sony never learns (1)

vrai (521708) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580854)

This isn't a problem for people who own the majority of their music on CD. I get my music on CD, rip it to Minidisc (for commuting), MP3 (for streaming to work) and FLAC (for everything else) then stash the CD somewhere safe as a backup. If I bought one of these I'd just import the FLAC encoded tracks and rip directly to it for any new music.

Not goin' anywhere! (5, Insightful)

darth_maul25 (635479) | more than 9 years ago | (#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?!

Re:Not goin' anywhere! (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580809)

Well they struck out with mini-disc, but hit with Memory Stick. I guess this will be the rub.

Re:Not goin' anywhere! (1)

BenBenBen (249969) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580856)

Hit with Memory Stick? I still can't buy anything bigger than 128Mb unless I import, and it's the thick end of a thousand dollars for 512Mb (I've got a P800 = Memory Stick Duo).

They've finally just got Samsung to adopt MS, but other than that, pshaw.

Re:Not goin' anywhere! (1)

JWW (79176) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580830)

They're probably thinking.

"It will be really inconvienent if we had to manufacture a lot of these, lets put in limiting features so that no one actually wants one of these."

The NW-HD1's primary format is Sony's own ATRAC 3 (2, Insightful)

ballpoint (192660) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580762)

- other formats are converted to that mode when they're transferred over to the player.

When will Sony ever learn ?

Re:The NW-HD1's primary format is Sony's own ATRAC (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580810)

Like microsoft, Sony as grown stupid, and believe that their approach will always be right. Just Like Beta.

Site feeling slow... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9580763)

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 status data.

The device uses USB 2.0 to hook up to a PC running Sony's own SonicStage software, from which 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.

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.

In addition to the NW-HD1, Sony will also release the Vaio Pocket Music Player VGF-AP1, which recently debuted in Japan, though Europe will get two models - 20GB and 40GB - rather that just one.

The player sports a 2.2in, 320 x 256 26,000-colour LCD - "designed to be viewed in daylight without difficulty", Sony claims - and can download photography from a digital camera, Sony said. In that respect, it's pitched more at next Christmas' Microsoft Personal Media Center devices than the iPod, a fact confirmed by its October 2004 availability. It will ship with earphones and a USB 2.0 connection cradle that doubles as its battery recharge unit. Sony claims the Lithium Ion battery will provide 20 hours' playback time.

The device sports Sony's G-Sense interface which maps sectors of the display onto a series of 25 buttons. The handheld unit measures 11.5 x 6.3 x 1.7cm, but the right-hand side rear bulges out to 2.7cm thanks to the battery. The VGF-AP1 weighs 195g.

The NW-HD1 is scheduled to ship in Europe in August. Before then, early this month, Sony will ship a pair of Flash-based players, the NW-E55 and NWE75. Just over 2.5cm in length and 40g in weight, they offer up to 256MB of storage capacity and are each powered by a AAA battery - enough, says Sony, for 70 hours' playback. Both have a backlit LCD and a colour silver (NW-E75), or blue, red or pearl (NW-E55).

Prices were not disclosed.

Sony's been in the portable digital music player for some time, but it's lack of support for the MP3 format has hindered its success, as has its preference for its own MiniDisc format. That has kept it away from the hard drive-based player segment, which has allowed Apple and others, like iRiver and Creative, to build up strong market share.

Sony will have to work hard to counter the brand awareness Apple has in the digital music player and store sector, but its established presence in the portable music hardware market will take it a long way. Early indications suggest Connect isn't much good, but the Walkman brand certainly is and we expect Sony's players to be too. Sony's kludgy MP3 support may hinder it, but if Apple can get away with what is essentially its own music format, so can Sony. ®

Dear All Patriots: +1, Profitable (-1, Offtopic)

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format conversion (2)

iamthemoog (410374) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580767)

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)...

Re:format conversion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9580926)

On the host computer.
(im not certain but I would bet on it, it's the same as NetMD minidiscs)

I dont think it would slow down the transfer too much but, as somebody has already stressed in other posts, reproducing only ATRAC and converting other formats is a complete idiocy

Damn.. (4, Funny)

adeyadey (678765) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580769)

"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..

Re:Damn.. (1)

Ethon (759020) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580855)

"Damn it, I'm over 1 meter tall, guess I'll have to wait for the next model.."

Well, it's not like you're going to be carrying the thing on the top of your head (at least I hope not), so really, the 1m distance is pretty relative to where MOST people would drop it from -- their waist.

Just my two cents...

Undercutting Apple? (5, Insightful)

Azrael Newtype (688138) | more than 9 years ago | (#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?

Re:Undercutting Apple? (3, Informative)

Paisley Phrog (685921) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580934)

They're claiming undercutting because the Sony can store 13,000 songs (as opposed to 10,000 on the Apple) for $99 less. Plus, they're anticipating price drops in the future whent Sony ramps up HD usage. ...Nevermind that it's 13,000 ATRAC songs. *shrug*

Atrac-3 a mistake (5, Insightful)

SirFlakey (237855) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580784)

"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)

Re:Atrac-3 a mistake (4, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580869)

ATRAC 3 isn't the mistake. Making it ATRAC 3 only is a mistake. Their CD-based digital music players don't require ATRAC: the burner application is all ATRAC but you can burn a disc full of MP3s and it plays them perfectly. Why don't they just follow their own lead?

Music technology (5, Interesting)

Guitar Wizard (775433) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580791)

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!

Re:Music technology (1)

argent (18001) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580820)

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 (2, Informative)

Guitar Wizard (775433) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580857)

Um, actually there are plenty of MiniDisc drives you can install on a PC. You should do more research -- MiniDisc is simply a format of disc. You can store anything on them -- audio OR data. Why carry a stack of 20 discs? I didn't suggest this. I keep all of my music on a 120 GB hard drive dedicated to media storage. If I go out and want music, I'm not going to get through 20 discs before I return home. The solution? Simply grab 1-2 discs and head out. I guarantee you that a small MD player with a disc in it is MUCH smaller than any HD-based player (at the moment).

Re:Music technology (3, Interesting)

boobert (7652) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580853)

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 when they first came out.

Re:Music technology (1)

Guitar Wizard (775433) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580886)

As far as I know, MDs were never really pricey. I was able to purchase high quality MDs at less than $2.00 US a piece, and that was several years ago. I expect that the new HDMDs will be about the same price. And yes, I agree about the transfer speeds...until NetMD was put in place (high-speed transfer, up to 32x, I believe) MD was definately a very odd format. No one liked recording in real time. It's been fun to see MiniDisc technology grow and evolve though. I have 3 different generations of portable recorders at the moment. Anyhow, I think MD is great.

Re:Music technology (1)

rockhome (97505) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580904)

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 that have hours upon hours...

Um, because a 20GB iPod would be the equivalent of 20 futuristic MDs, and I don't need to carry around the disks and a player. The MD player itslef is larger and heavier than the ipod, with more moving parts. I like the access to all of my music at once.

Re:Music technology (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580986)

Let's see, either I carry around my entire music collection on one HD, or I limit myself by selecting one Minidisc when I leave the house, or I lug around stacks of MDs.

WOW (-1, Offtopic)

Mz6 (741941) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580794)

These pictures are AMAZING!

500 Unable to connect to remote system: 67.18.39.136

*sigh*

Surprised (1, Interesting)

shione (666388) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580812)

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," says Kimura, the smile fading. "But we are studying it."

I for one am excited about this product. More competition in the HD based protbles can only be good for consumers

Skipping? (2, Interesting)

op00to (219949) | more than 9 years ago | (#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?

Metric system (off topic) (-1, Offtopic)

AWxSlashdot (687701) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580826)

Why do you feel the need to translate 1 meter to its equivalent in feet, inches, fly wing ? The metric system is official just anywhere, can't you just give up you old system to switch to the new one ? It's like here in EU where everyhting is labelled in Euro AND in the old currency : if you still provide the old info, no one will ever switch ... AWx

Hmmm... (2, Interesting)

daringone (710585) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580829)

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*

20-Hour Battery, 25-minute Storage (-1)

judmarc (649183) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580835)

...equals the joy of listening to the same 5 songs 50 times.

Re:20-Hour Battery, 25-minute Storage (2, Informative)

reidbold (55120) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580894)

Who modded this insightful?

It's 25 minutes of memory is used for antiskip. It has a 20GB harddrive for storage.

Re:20-Hour Battery, 25-minute Storage (1)

elhaf (755704) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580954)

25 minutes is how long it will play while you're jogging. If you're training for a marathon, these things suck. I'm out there for four hours. And yes, while you're jogging, it doesn't get one good read in from the hd for the whole 25 minutes. This applies to iPod as well.

Re:20-Hour Battery, 25-minute Storage (1)

jdrugo (449803) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580912)

You don't even have to read the article to understand that the 25 minutes are the amount of music that can be kept in RAM, not on the HD. WTF do you get an 'Insightful' for?

25 minutes skip free RAM storage (1)

k2enemy (555744) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580915)

the test unit had a 40GB disk coupled with enough RAM to hold 25 minutes of music

Re:20-Hour Battery, 25-minute Storage (1)

LocoSpitz (175100) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580945)

Assuming, of course, that you decide to dump all your songs to the player's RAM instead of the 20gig hard drive. Which would be pretty stupid, if you ask me.

Re:20-Hour Battery, 25-minute Storage (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9580982)

Wow! It's just like your own personal radio station. Just add payola!

At least he did the 1m conversion correctly (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9580844)

Yup thanks to the previous slashdot http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/06/2 3/0044259&mode=thread&tid=133&tid=134&tid= 186 the poster did the unit conversion coreectly. How many people went and checked the conversion. 100cm/2.54cm/in=39.370079 (thanks xcalc)

edited or mis-edited? (4, Funny)

mblase (200735) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Legal contradiction... (3, Interesting)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580881)

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?!

Re:Legal contradiction... (2, Informative)

Paisley Phrog (685921) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580964)

Thus, the ONLY way this new device could be useful to consumers is if they infringe copyrights and download music illegally.

Um, no. It encodes other formats to ATRAC as they're imported to the player.

Re:Legal contradiction... (1)

LocoSpitz (175100) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580996)

I imagine that most people who purchase a portable music device with a 40GB hard drive already have some music; why would they spend $10,000 on music instead of just, y'know, converting their songs to ATRAC 3... which according to The Register the upload software does automatically...

I'm lovin' it (4, Funny)

spoonani (786547) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580889)

Now if i could only eat enough mcdonald's meals to get 13,000 free sony connect songs!

"Credit card sized" (4, Funny)

nmg196 (184961) | more than 9 years ago | (#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...

Sony's portable cd player is called the Discman (5, Funny)

bugmenot (788326) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580898)

SO why didn't they name this device the HardMan?

What does it look like to the computer? (4, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580910)

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.

from the article... (4, Insightful)

nikster (462799) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580973)

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...).

Lobotomized interface to the PC? (3, Interesting)

gotan (60103) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580983)

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?

Not necessarily all that small... (5, Informative)

GlobalEcho (26240) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

25 minutes of skip-free playback? (1)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 9 years ago | (#9580998)

If your hard drive is skipping, the playback of your music is probably the least of your concern.

Why no IEEE 1394 support? (4, Interesting)

DLWormwood (154934) | more than 9 years ago | (#9581003)

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?
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