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Why Sony Should've Put Its Weight Behind Hi-MD

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the hindsight-is-perfect dept.

519

An anonymous reader writes "OSNews has an article making a case for Hi-MD: 'Currently, .mp3 players are all the hype. Everyone has one, and if you don't, you're old-fashioned. I do not have an .mp3 player. I tried to have one, but for various reasons it did not please me. I'm a MiniDisc guy. I've always been. MiniDisc has some serious advantages over .mp3 players, whether they be flash or HDD based.'"

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519 comments

Only applies to ipods... (5, Interesting)

JediLow (831100) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047929)

One thing the article completely forgets - ipods aren't the only mp3 players on the market. All the different advantages (except actually having a disk) that it describes already exist in other models/brands of mp3 players (I've used my iRiver for recording and storage - which it gets read as an external hard drive, thus avoiding the issues the article has)... but don't exist in the ipod. But, thats what the masses do don't they? Every mp3 player is an ipod to them. Back to reality - outside really liking the minidisk format, there aren't that many reasons for using it over a mp3 player.

Why do I use a HD mp3 player? It stores a large amount of music. I don't want to have to juggle around dozens of cds or in this case minidisks, I have over 15 gigs of music on my mp3 player and I don't have the time to find the disk that I want when I want to listen to certain things, nor does the space it takes to store all the disks appeal to me. I like having a device which can store large amounts of data - after trips with groups I'll normally get a dump of all the pictures that the group has taken and put them on my mp3 player to transfer.

I've tried the mp3 cds (which was giving me 700 megs of storage compared to the 305 megs you get from older minidisks using the hi-md format), but I ended up having too many... and when I wanted to add music to it it meant that I had to burn a whole new disk... and I just plain didn't like using it... and my mp3 player has proven to be a whole lot more solid than any cd player I've come across (I've dropped it many times, left it out in my car through all the extremes of Michigan's weather, and its still been great).

Re:Only applies to ipods... (5, Insightful)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047997)

I've owned 4 MiniDisc players, and I will say that they *could* have been great.

I loved the hardware- for the time they came out they were the smallest thing out there. The removeable disks did provide an 'unlimited' amount of storage. The battery life was awesome.

But as the author of the article mentioned, the achilles heel of the whole operation was the software.

SONIC STAGE *is* a steaming pile of shit. There is no way around that- it is one of the worst pieces of software I have ever used. And because you are forced to use Sonic State to use a MiniDisc player you are completely screwed over.

At the time I bought them (3-4 years ago) the hardware was A++. But the software is so crappy I would give the whole thing a D+.

Sony can really manage to screw some stuff up. And that is one reason I am not excited about the PS3 with Blu-Ray.

(Why did I buy 4? Well, the first one was great, but I lost it after only 2 days. So when I bought another one, I also picked one up for my wife and daughter.)

Re:Only applies to ipods... (4, Informative)

ericdano (113424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048037)

I jumped off the MiniDisc ship after the promised HiMD recorder were to allow you to transfer back to the computer via USB. It did....sorta. Unless you had a Viao, you couldn't burn a CD of your recordings. And if I remember correctly, it was something like nearly a year until Sony allowed you get get recordings out of Sonic Stage.

I decided to get a recorder that recorded to Compact Flash, the Marantz PMD660. Great unit.

1 Gb is good enough for me... (4, Informative)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048114)

Just got a 1Gb keychain mp3 player/fm radio/voice recorder/jump drive all in one. Pretty pleased with it. It was cheap (made by some Chinese no-name company) but it works great for me. If it breaks I'll just get another one for just as cheap or cheaper. It has not moving parts, so it can handle being dropped, already happened and still works.

I can also live with about 128 kbps mp3s or even 96 kbps for some songs and I can fit enough albums on this thing to keep me happy for weeks, then I change them around. If I need space to transfer files, I just delete the music folders and use it as a jump drive.

I think the people are buying iPods just because their friends have iPods and they don't know that there other such "toys" out there with a different set of features that might work better for them.

Re:Only applies to ipods... (5, Insightful)

Tezkah (771144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048008)

See, if they would have added MP3 and Mac Support 3 years ago I wouldn't have replaced my minidisc with an iPod.

The reason i dumped it (besides the hardware which eventually died) was because the ONLY way to get software on it was through the buggy Windows-only Sony Software that came with it.

Sorry Sony, even if you do fix the problems with it, you're way too late. I got a taste of the high capacity iPod with the extremely easy to use iTunes software and i'm never going back. Good luck with the whole rootkit things though.

This is one of the problems with Sony, they're in too many businesses. Their Music division has longed forced them to cripple their electronics division, or be exclusive to their record label. When one arm of your company is installing rootkits on your computer to prevent you from ripping CDs to mp3, would you really trust that same company with your mp3 device? I don't.

Re:Only applies to ipods... (4, Interesting)

trolleymusic (938183) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048021)

I have an IRiver ihp140 and the recording function is brilliant. I can record as mp3 or (up to) 44.1Khz 16bit stereo wav using the inbuilt microphone, an external microphone (one was supplied, but any one with a 3.5mm plug is fine), an external audio source (ie: line in) or a digital audio source using optical in.

I've recorded lectures, a couple of concerts and when my band practices I records all jam sessions just in case we want to review something.

Re:Only applies to ipods... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048040)

You are aware the iPod gets read as an external hard drive? Oh, wait, you don't have one. Yet you're an expert on them.

This article is crap. iPods have flash storage in one incarnation. So, don't think a hard drive is sturdy enough? Buy the flash model. Space? The author admits a MD hold less than 350 MB. That's half a regular CD. Smallest iPod -- the 512 MB shuffle. More than that single MD disc -- and a MD player can only hold on MD disc at a time. Want to swap out that disc to increase your library? Do the same on an iPod -- hook it to your computer and you have a universe of music you can put on it. So, using the same logic behind the statement "MiniDisc offers unlimited storage space" means an iPod offers infinite storage space. Recording add-ons are available for the iPod (if you want to use your iPod for that). Battery life? Well, this article certainly does not do a scientific comparison. MP3 playback? Sony's history is to not really allow a device to play back MP3 without significant inconvenience. That has not changed, as the article author readily admits. It goes on and on, not coming up with anything meaningful to put in the MD column. Sony has put its weight behind MD and it has had some okay success in the past (especially overseas). Its present is mostly a consequence of these vested users. But people are all moving to flash or hard drive based music devices because of the very real world advantages in price and convenience due to storage space economies of scale and easy computer integration. Sony's solution is proprietary, in the bad sense of that word. And, by now, hopelessly out of date.

MiniDisc is not the iPod killer you are looking for.

Re:Only applies to ipods... (1)

DashEvil (645963) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048095)

If you actually read the article you would have read this line:

"The new Hi-MD format offers 1GB per disc"...

The line that you are holding against it is this one, again, you should actually have read it:

"In fact-- formatting an ordinary MD using the Hi-MD filesystem actually doubles its original capacity from 170MB to 305 MB!"

Re:Only applies to ipods... (1)

absoluteflatness (913952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048143)

Want to swap out that disc to increase your library? Do the same on an iPod -- hook it to your computer and you have a universe of music you can put on it. So, using the same logic behind the statement "MiniDisc offers unlimited storage space" means an iPod offers infinite storage space.

Not quite. The whole idea is that you could swap out MiniDiscs while you're actually traveling somewhere, meaning that your "library" could be as big as you wanted, provided you used enough discs. On a flash or hard-disk based player, the number of songs you can have along is limited by the capacity of the player. Sure you could transfer new songs from iTunes, but if you were going to bring your whole computer along with you, why would you need a portable player in the first place?

Re:Only applies to ipods... (1)

arose (644256) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048167)

Get a better music player, one that takes memory cards.

PDA's, FTW! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048071)

In this day and age, I simply can't understand why ANYONE with an ounce of taste and technical knowledge would buy an device that can only play music, regardless of how many formats it can support.

My AU$250 PDA (sure, I bought it off eBay, but that's not the point) is LESS than the RRP AU$389 for a 4GB iPod Nano, has survived umpteen drops and falls, which a HDD-based music player of the same physical size would not be able to do.
You can get 4GB SD memory-cards now, the same size as the largest iPod Nano, and you can expand the PDA storage even more if it supports CF memory-cards as well (as mine does).

Where the heck is this guy pulling his figures from?
"The new Hi-MD format offers 1GB per disc (which can add up to 45 hours of music on one disc)"
Unless Hi-MD offers some w00t compression, he must record his songs at really, really low quality, because, say 3minutes at 3MB a song (averaging around 128Kbps... what I'd call pretty low-qualiy at the best of times), my maths work out 1GB to equal a little over 16 hours of music.

Then there's the age-old argument of quality over quantity... that CD's have a much higher quality because they are not stored in a lossey compression algorithm.
Of course, this argument is negated once you start using flash storage half a gig in size or higher, as you can just save the .wav's for perfect sound reproduction.

Re:PDA's, FTW! (2, Interesting)

JediLow (831100) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048162)

For devices... I go for the quality. I know I can get a PDA/phone/mp3 player/camera/whatever, but I really don't want one device that does everything - I want separate devices which do their job well instead of one device which does a dozen things weakly. What actually got me to get a mp3 player was when I was using my old Tungsten T as an mp3 player, I couldn't get the storage I wanted and while it did it, it didn't do the job great.

If you want to go for the comparison against a PDA:

Battery life:
HD mp3, 15 hours
PDA, 4-8 hours

Storage space:
HD mp3, 20 gb
PDA, 128 mb; to equal the storage space you need 20 gigs... using 1 gig compact flash it takes $1000.

Cost:
HD mp3, $250 PDA, $250 + $1000 = $1250

You can also get into sound quality debates and other things... but in all it does make sense for people to use mp3 players if they're looking at using it for heavier amounts of music (like I do).

Profit!! (1)

MacDork (560499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048115)

  1. Publish all CDs with rootkits.
  2. Notifiy geeks at /. who rant for months about it.
  3. Astroturf Slashdot with Hi-MD ad as 'news.'
  4. ???
  5. Profit!!

Wait, (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15047936)

Now you are saying that Sony should push MORE single source products? Everybody hates them for Beta-max, Blu-Ray and ATRAC-6, and you are looking to be MORE single source?

Re:Wait, (1)

BinaryOpty (736955) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047978)

Don't forget UMD and soon, Blu-Ray!

Re:Wait, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048011)

UMD was indeed a glaring omission, but if you read again, Blu-ray was in the list.

Re:Wait, (1)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048094)

Here we go again with the Blu-Ray = Sony shit.

Yes, Sony developed the spec, but this isn't betamax. There's a whole bunch of companies behind it.

http://www.blu-raydisc.com/general_information/Sec tion-14009/Index.html [blu-raydisc.com]

Am I the only one who's tired of knee-jerk Sony-bashing? Yes, they've fucked-up on a few things, but there's no need to crucify them.

Re:Wait, (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048118)

You might find you don't fit in around here.

Windows only! Soon to die. Big downsides. (5, Interesting)

linuxbaby (124641) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047938)

Important to note that even this MiniDisc fan-boy points out downsides to MiniDisc that completely kill it for most of us:
Even though each Hi-MD player can be used as a mass storage device under windows, Linux, OSX, and even BeOS, you cannot just drag/drop .mp3s onto it. You are forced to use SonicStage. And of course SonicStage is only available on Windows
then he ends with this:
Now, it's all too late. I'm afraid MiniDisc will slowly but surely die out.
Oh well.

Re:Windows only! Soon to die. Big downsides. (1)

Gojira Shipi-Taro (465802) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047955)

Well... the submitter was clearly smoking crack, so it's not really a suprise, is it?

"I'm a mini-disk man"... Please.

Penny arcade agrees! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15047939)

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2003/05/28 [penny-arcade.com] God bless Penny Arcade!

Re:Penny arcade agrees! (0, Flamebait)

IntergalacticWalrus (720648) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048032)

It's not even about MiniDiscs. Do you feel the need to post a Penny Arcade strip on every fucking slashdot story, even when it's not really related?

Sorry, but no... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15047946)

Flash-based MP3 players have the ability to equal or better MiniDisc players on every single count - reliability, size, weight, upgradeability, shock resistance, water resistance, speed, versatility (how many computers have built-in MiniDisc drives, versus built-in flash readers), etc. etc.

Re:Sorry, but no... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048133)

"Flash-based MP3 players have the ability to equal or better MiniDisc players on every single count - reliability, size, weight, upgradeability, shock resistance, water resistance, speed, versatility (how many computers have built-in MiniDisc drives, versus built-in flash readers), etc. etc."

Almost, but not quite. You can buy a 1 gig disc for $8. I agree with your other points, but I wanted to mention this one because this is the reason I own one. (and, yes, I'd rather have an iPod.)

Weird formats and other issues (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047950)

I wouldn't trust Sony no matter how good their format is, really, simple because of the fact that their formats, such as Memory Sticks, tend to be compatible only with their hardware, they don't like other formats, and there's none of that competition that makes the free market work so well. If I put music in an unsupported format on a Minidisc, I would have to re-encode, losing quality even more.

MP3 players work fine. As I mentioned before, I purchased an iAudio U2 [amazon.com] , which cost only a hundred and gets me MP3, WAV, and even Vorbis support (something I'll never see from Sony).

Finally, Sony's prices are a little too high for an item that's sure to get knocked around a lot. I'd rather have to replace a $100 MP3 player than a $300 machine from a company

Why MP3 players will still trump MD's (1)

Phantombrain (964010) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047951)

The author of that artical makes a very good point. MD's are more durable than an mp3 player and can record. But the problem is they are not as convienient. Sure, they can fit 1 gig of data per disk, enough for a bunch of songs, but most people don't want to be carrying around lots of disks. And then durability. If you think about it, how many people are actually going to be riding their bike over their mp3 player as mentioned in the article? Unless there are some VERY strange circumstances, I think that won't happen.

I'm still sticking with my IPod

Why Sony made the right decision not to: (1)

Ibanez (37490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047953)

See MD vs. CD.

No way (3, Interesting)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047956)

The last thing Sony needs is a new proprietary format (hardware or software). Hard drives can be re-written much quicker than optical media, and no-one wants to buy a device whose media may become obsolete within a few years. If people want a lot of storage capacity they'll get a hard drive based player, if they want quick loading times and durability they will get a flash based player. If they want to buy preloaded physical media, they will buy a format that's been around a while (cds).

Advantages are not unique (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047959)

Theres shitloads of this artcile that just sounds like sour grapes.
I initially started on the 30hours playback from an AA battery and easily found some mp3 players offering upto 50.
Then he says that you can't get an iPod wet, well guess what - people make waterproof ipod cases and theres loads of fully waterproof player recorders on the market.

Heres my test search:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=AA+batter y+mp3+player+hours+waterproof&btnG=Search [google.com]

Re:Advantages are not unique (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15047996)

maybe you can buy a water proof case, but damn are thsoe MD players rugged out of the box. Why have to buy some add on if you can get it with the feature built in. and battery life, lemme tell you. Before I jumped on it (dont ask), my md player got well over 40 hours on one AA battery. plus it came with a remote, with lcd screen. I have an iPod now, but i would trade it all in for one of these new 1gig mdplayers. ipod battery life is killer, i hate it, and i would rather have battery life in exchange for the smaller storage. Who can tell me what thier ipod gets for battery life?? 10 hours maybe?

It's a real shame. (1)

Darkinspiration (901976) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047970)

Sony could have dominated the mp3 player market. At a time when flash player where not carrying more than 128 meg of data netmd player's where cheap and good.

sight if only hi-md came to the market sooner, if only sony would have open up it's interface for a small licence fee... if only they did not limit the bloody thing to atrac and sonic stage. hi-md players could have easely rivaled the mini.

after all 45 hours of music on a single, generic, AA battery is not to be ignored .

Even niche markets are an issue (5, Insightful)

Saxophonist (937341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047971)

About a year and a half or so ago, I was looking semi-seriously at buying a MiniDisc recorder of some kind. A couple of people in the saxophone studio where I study had them, and it could really be handy for portable, off-the-cuff recording and playback of practice sessions, which is what I wanted it for.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find one in production that fit my needs. I could not find any assurance that I could do what I wanted with a MiniDisc player from specs I was seeing online. I eventually figured out that the people who had the MiniDisc recorders all got them overseas (Japan for sure, maybe Australia as well?). I see the article author does have a recorder; I wonder if that's new or something, or if he got it somewhere other than the U.S. as well.

I have no other reason to want one of these devices, and with Sony's reputation of late, I don't need one that badly anyway.

Re:Even niche markets are an issue (1, Offtopic)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047986)

Honestly, why would you need a minidisc for this? If you're trying to record practice sessions, it means you're already lugging your sax with you. You can't find room for a portable DAT deck? Heck, even the much praised sony from this article makes one about the size of an old-school walkman.

Minidisc is a niche format with a cult following - DAT is an industry standard. Use it to record and you will be able to pop into just about any halfway decently equipped studio or theater sound booth and work with your recording.

Re:Even niche markets are an issue (1)

ericdano (113424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048044)

Honestly man, DAT is dead as well. All the high end and good low end stuff records either to Hard Disks or Compact Flash. Marantz, Fostex, Edirol, etc. all use them.

Re:Even niche markets are an issue (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048057)

You can't find room for a portable DAT deck?

I'm with the OP on this. I was looking for a portable recording system a while back and considered MDs because they're cheap, compact and go a long time between batteries. Trouble is, they're also hard to find with manual recording levels. As far as DAT goes, I was advised to try the Tascam DAP 1. It was OK, but costs more than A$2,500 and is fairly bulky. The SonyPCMM1 seemed OK, but the recording level dial was a bitch to set up. Anyway, with any of the DAT gear, download times are a pain.

I ended up getting a Boss BR532 http://www.harmony-central.com/Effects/Data/Boss/B R_532-01.html [harmony-central.com] . It records on SmartMedia, can download to computer in only a few minutes, has a built-in mixer, and the compression's not too bad as long as you're careful how you use it. It cost less than half the price of the DATs as well.

Re:Even niche markets are an issue (1)

lord sibn (649162) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047989)

I would suppose that every price quoted in the linked article is in euros, and that logically, his acquisition of that unit was indeed not in the US.

Re:Even niche markets are an issue (1)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048001)

Unfortunately, I couldn't find one in production that fit my needs. I could not find any assurance that I could do what I wanted with a MiniDisc player from specs I was seeing online. I eventually figured out that the people who had the MiniDisc recorders all got them overseas (Japan for sure, maybe Australia as well?). I see the article author does have a recorder; I wonder if that's new or something, or if he got it somewhere other than the U.S. as well.

If you had actually read the article, you'd have noticed that he claims he paid 150 Euros for his recorder. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that he bought it in Europe. Also, a google search on his last name returns a lot of pages in the Netherlands, and he mentions that he bought his first recorder using Florins. Do you think that he might be Dutch?

Re:Even niche markets are an issue (1)

IntergalacticWalrus (720648) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048046)

Using a MiniDisc for recording is a bad idea anyway, since there is no way whatsoever to digitally extract them. The only thing you can do is re-record the disc's content from analog line-out.

Yet another proof that MiniDiscs could've been so much more if only Sony weren't such total dicks.

MD always was a dead format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15047972)

The only time I ever saw a minidisc player was when one unit was being sold as a discontinued item. MD was the "Circuit City DivX" of audio formats: an aborted dead end that never took off.

People actually still care about minidisc? (0, Troll)

wazzles (729440) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047981)

Do people actually care about mini-discs? Hell no. Although the mini-disc player preceded the mp3 player it is still lossy and is a useless unsupported media format. The compact disc has been around since 1982 and because most folks don't care about audio quality these days the CD will be the defacto media format for years to come.

Re:People actually still care about minidisc? (1)

ericdano (113424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048052)

MiniDisc was a great thing in the late 90s and early 2000s. It provided, for me, a small, compact, high quality recording device. Even though it was compressed with ATRAC, the recordings I got out of my Sony MZ90 were great all things considered.

However, now, there are so many better solutions, and they either use Hard Drives or Compact Flash. Marantz, Edirol, Fostex to name a few. I own a Marantz unit for the last two years and the thing is amazing....

Re:People actually still care about minidisc? (1)

lunch_box4 (940873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048134)

Working in the broadcast industry, it's really important for me to be able to capture high quality audio and not have to walk around with a huge machine in my pocket. Sony's MD is really the only thing that lets me do that. I'll admit that it's a pain in the ass to get the audio off it, but i fixed that by 1/8 inch to 1/8 inch cable from the player to the mic jack in my computer. For my money, it's the best machine for my job, and it will be sad if i can't get disks for it anymore.

Re:People actually still care about minidisc? (1)

wazzles (729440) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048145)

I agree that the portability factor of the mini-disc is great and something the cd player can't do.

Surely most here can agree... (2, Insightful)

clevershark (130296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047985)

Enough of proprietary formats that lock you into one brand of hardware... whether it's called MD, UMD, ATRA or anything else (frankly, even AAC).

Re:Surely most here can agree... (4, Insightful)

Senjutsu (614542) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048103)

Enough of proprietary formats that lock you into one brand of hardware... whether it's called MD, UMD, ATRA or anything else (frankly, even AAC).

Yeah, nothing says proprietary formats like the ISO standard MPEG-4 audio layer.

Re:Surely most here can agree... (1)

clevershark (130296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048164)

Is there a non-iPod player that can actually play AAC?

Perhaps there is, but I can't think of one.

Re:Surely most here can agree... (1)

Simon Garlick (104721) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048111)

(even AAC).

Huh? What on earth are you on about?

Sony is killing itself (2, Insightful)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047992)

As long as Sony continues to be run by the record label division, Sony, the consumer electronics innovator, is going to die.
The article forgets to mention the idiotic copy restrictions that MiniDisc players have along with the mentioned ATRAC/soundstage/can't drag 'n drop files limitations. They are basically shooting themselves in the foot because the record label is paranoid about copying. Nevermind MD, whatever happened to my cheap DAT device?
If Sony wants to survive as a consumer electronics company it should split from the music label.

mod parent up (1)

centuren (106470) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048063)

This is the key factor, I think. I love Minidisc players and I have a great one, but it's sitting unused behind my ipod. The interface software was just so crappy and so limiting that I needed to move on to something more usable.

Re:Sony is killing itself (1)

MassEnergySpaceTime (957330) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048144)

I agree. I just ran into an editing restriction on my Hi-MD player. I listen to hour+ long dj mixes. Once in a while, I run across a track in the middle of a mix that I want to track mark and jump back to when I want to hear that track again. Unfortunately, the HiMD player told me that I can't edit tracks transferred from a PC. Argh. It was one of the neat features that kept me in support for MD.

Sorry, Sony. Your limiting of what I can do with my tracks on MD has just devalued the MD format for me.

Some people just don't get it.... (5, Insightful)

alienw (585907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15047999)

It's painfully obvious that the author of the article is still stuck in the 90s. Of course, most people that haven't owned an iPod also think this way. The main thing with an iPod (or any HDD-based music player) is that you have _all_ your music on it. You are not limited to the songs on a particular disc, and you can find any song in your collection in under 20 seconds. Not to mention, this is all on one compact device. I guess if I wanted to look like a dork and carry around 30 1GB minidiscs, swap them every 5 minutes, and deal with the hassle of remembering which music is on which disc, I would go with that format. Not to mention that at Sony prices, a player and 30 minidiscs would probably run you a lot more than $300. But hey, you get to stand out from the crowd by being the guy with a dorky player.

Re:Some people just don't get it.... (1)

IntergalacticWalrus (720648) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048066)

I'm not pro-MiniDisc (I hate them), but your argument just plain sucks. Not everyone wants to pay $300+ for a digital music player that can hold all of our music library. Some of us consider it a waste of money and are perfectly okay with a smaller, more affordable device with modest storage space.

Re:Some people just don't get it.... (1)

Ahnteis (746045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048092)

All my music wouldn't fit on the largest IPOD available -- assuming I could afford it and wanted to scroll through hundreds of artists at a time.

I cannot concieve of a situation where you would need 30 minidiscs. You'd have maybe 5 and fill them as your mood dictated.

Additionally, you aren't as likely to put a harddrive head through a platter during high impact activity with a minidisc player. (Flash is your best bet of course.)

Re:Some people just don't get it.... (2, Informative)

alienw (585907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048156)

Your post doesn't make much sense. You have more than 60GB of music, but you can fit it on 5 minidiscs? That's ignoring the fact that your collection would be extremely easy to manage through iTunes, that the iPod interface is designed to handle hundreds of artists, and that you aren't going to destroy a hard drive with any reasonable activity (short of dropping it on concrete from 6 feet). The iPod has like a 32 MB RAM buffer, so it only spins up the hard drive once every 15 minutes or so.

Re:Some people just don't get it.... (1)

jx100 (453615) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048138)

I personally agree with alienw. I enjoy having all my music (well, much of my music) with me at all times, as it allows me to have the entire thing on random. That is something you most definitely *can't* do with minidisc.

I *would* need to carry around about 30 minidiscs to carry all that around, and it stil wouldn't be as convenient.

Mod parent up! (1)

Zobeid (314469) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048140)

That's exactly what I was thinking while I read the article. No way would I ever return to a music player that requires me to carry discs around, and shuffle through them looking for whatever I want to hear. The genius of the iPod is that you put all your music -- everything you own -- onto your computer, in your iTunes library. Everything is organized in the computer. Then the iPod updates every time you charge it. It's effortless. Or at any rate, it's a lot less effort than trying to manage a shelf (or three shelves plus overflow, in my case) of physical CDs.

It's sort of like the difference between tivo and a VCR. Since I got my satellite receiver/recorder unit [disclaimer: not an actual Tivo(R)(TM) brand tivo], I can hardly imagine going through the hassle of recording something on videotape.

Re:Some people just don't get it.... (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048153)


Just an honest question: what is this new perceived need to carry around (and be able to listen to) your own music at any time?

Is it expressing individualism, blocking out other audible stimuli or something else?

I just don't get it - I prefer to listen to the music that I enjoy and focus on it, not use it as background noise in a work environment or (worse) while walking, cycling or driving.

Greed (2, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048000)

The hardware looks nice but the overall product is ruined by Sony's greed and paranoia. I'm not going to buy something that was designed on the assumption that the user is a criminal and can't be trusted.

SonicStage is really bad. (4, Informative)

CoolGuySteve (264277) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048002)

I had a NetMD player a couple years ago and I don't think the article goes into enough detail about just how bad SonicStage really is. The interface was some crazy non-standard flash thing that ran really slow, it crashed all the time, and you had to do some weird check-in thing that would only let you burn an mp3 to 3 disks before you had to "check out" one of the copies by removing it for the disk.

It's seriously one of the worst pieces of software I've ever used. I ended up creating 1GB audio cd images of my mp3s and then ripping them using a less offensive piece of Sony software. But eventually, it got to the point that I just stopped making new disks and got tired of the ones I had. The NetMD player ended up in a drawer for many months until I gave it away and bought a Rio Karma.

I read a few reviews before purchasing but I figured the software couldn't be THAT bad. I was wrong. The battery life and the price of media were amazing though and it was a nice little piece of hardware for the $130 I paid.

As an aside, the player skipped whenever I kept it in my shorts pocket, it wasn't as bulletproof as I thought it would be from reading reviews. It skipped way more than my Karma but the Karma's harddrive eventually died so I maybe I unwittingly vibrate like a paintshaker or something.

It was basically what killed the MD format (1)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048069)

I totally agree with all of the parent's comments about the software. I mean, to put MP3s on your NetMD, you had to let Sony's cruddy software convert all of the files from MP3->some sony format (i.e. guaranteed quality loss), and then you had this bizarre check-in/check-out system to control how you used it. The software was bloated, impossibly user-unfriendly, and generally just awful.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that when all of the Sony minidisc players became NetMD-type players I stopped using them. I now use an iPod shuffle which has a comparable level of toughness and simplicity.

It was such a shame, because NetMD players were really nice and ahead of the curve. I must disagree about skipping etc too - my various minidisc players were all incredibly tough, never ever skipped, and did get ludicrous battery life. If only, IF ONLY Sony had embraced MP3 and some kind of open interface then NetMD minidisc players really would have been something special. Remember, this is a good few years ago we're talking, too.

nonsense (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048009)

OK, so a minidisc is only a few Euros, or $5 for 1 gig. This is several times the cost per gig of a DVD, and significantly more that a CDRW. A minidisk player is at least $200, while a CD player can be had for $20. If the CD player breaks, who cares, buy another for $20 If a CD gets damaged, who cares, burn another for $.25.

As far as durability, I have dropped my iPod anumber of times. The iPod costs less than a Minidisk player and has the capacity of multiple disks, without the hassel of carrying extra disks around. My iPod still seems to work fine.

I also wonder how quickly on can record a minidisk. Reading a CD and burning a new one, or copying to the iPod over firewire. can happen in a matter of minutes. Does the mini disk do an analog record in real time, or a digital transfer?

Ultimately Sony wanted a protected format that it could sell content and allow a limited amount of copying. It wanted to control the format, and control access. Apple beat sony at it's own game by allowing MP3s from the begining and not worrying about the copying. For instance, a one gig Shuffle might only hold a single disc of songs, but it is easy to frequently change the songs, it is easy to recharge, and it is a significantly easier to carry around. Back when Creative was the best, those players were nicer than anything sony had. One would sooner buy a CD player than a minidisc.

So, as has been it's wont for 15 years, Sony makes cute gadgets, but has become obsesed with protecting content rather than serving the consumer. The walkman would have been dead if it required a special unit to copy, or if it had not allowed a generation to pirate vinyl to tape.

Sigh.... (2, Interesting)

superkpt (958938) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048013)

I've also been a Minidisc 'fan' since day 1. I'm on my 4rd unit now. I'll be brutally honest. The only reason I still have the damn thing is because it cost me about 300 bucks. I'm on the verge of getting a flash-based MP3 player. The arguments in the article of MD vs. other players isn't entirely with merit. But the author does cite some advantages that were great a couple of years ago. But with flash-based players out in the market, the advantages of MD diminish. Sony DID have the ability to push them and totally dominate a market. But they misstepped with the RIDICULOUSLY INSANE SonicStage software. It's a true piece of garbage. My mother could write a better software package. Sigh. In the early days, even with SonicStage, there was no alternative. MD was 'the bomb.' I would record concerts (shhh, don't tell the f'in RIAA...), record notes for classes, it was great. Only NOW, after years of complaints to Sony, can you download these recordings to your computer as WAV files with no restrictions. YEARS of complaints I tell you. Almost all the complaints were about SonicStage. Sigh. Most of the fans of MD (the ones that still clamor about it, at least) have been fans forever. And most of us are feeling far less than nostalgic. We're ready to jump ship. Sony can still save MD. A flashy ad-campaign touting the indestructability of MD's would help. Drag/drop support would help. Sleeker low-end models (with prices that directly compete with low to mid-end flash-players) would help. Just a handful of things that would cost a behemoth like Sony a few million dollars to implement. But, as the author implies, the Sun may be setting on MD. I still have glimpses of hope. But these too seem to be, well, sigh.......

awesome. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048061)

"I'm on my 4rd unit now" and then i stopped reading your post.

If you're a musician MiniDisc is better (5, Interesting)

Llamakiller-4 (267848) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048014)

Nearly all Mp3 players (if they record at all) are limited to voice recordings.
If you want to record music and lots of it, MiniDisc is the way to go.
Leave the expensive DAT for others, a Minidisc can get you up and running with
live recording and onto CD in no time.
Im not a fan of all their Atrac stuff, nor am I a fan of Sony's constant annoying
search to create their own standard. Some day companies will learn there's more to
gain from open standards than a gamble on closed standards. Sony for instance loses
nearly every time.
Betamax, Sony Memory Stick, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
My new Minidisc from Sony is more open than their previous models.
Works great - musicians, HiMd with Mic Input ! Great sound, on the cheap.
Lk4

Re:If you're a musician MiniDisc is better (2, Interesting)

bloosqr (33593) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048065)

Why not use what everyone uses, a laptop? Its a cheap multitrack recorder on a machine that someone has already bought for school/work and far better quality than minidisc. This is the first i've heard of using a minidisc as a band.. Hell you can get a maudio 410 (4 channel in, 10 channel out) w/ lossless 96khz sampling, firewire for $300. Portable and high quality if you have a laptop lying around.

Re:If you're a musician MiniDisc is better (4, Interesting)

ericdano (113424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048070)

Yes, I agree. I used MiniDisc to record concerts and rehearsals for 4 or 5 years. Then the broken promise of HiMD (and USB transfers) made me jump ship. The unit I got I had mic input problems (bad mic jack?), the interface was VERY clumsy compared to my previous unit (MZ90 I believe), and you could transfer recordings to your computer, but unless you had a SONY VIAO you could burn a CD of it. Seriously. This was August 2004. Sony promised to fix this but......I believe it wasn't till April of 2005 that they did it? Maybe sooner? I don't believe they had a solution in 2004.

Anyhow, I found the world of Compact Flash recorders. You can record stereo, non-compressed, plus a lot of the recorders have XLR inputs. Good stuff.

Re:If you're a musician MiniDisc is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048137)

Last year I got Sony's "musician's package" for my wife: minidisc, microphone & disks, for some $300. Total disaster! Like many other musicians, she uses a Mac. There apparently was a way to upgrade to a pricier, mac-compatible minidisc, but after I read all the small print about format restrictions and everything, it was obvious that the good craftmanship and fine microphone were rendered useless by the software and format restrictions. We finally settled on an M-AUDIO Microtrack, which is bulkier and aestetically challenged but great in its naive approach to recording: Like a digital camera, it records professional audio quality in wav or mp3 format to a memory card. And it plays audio files stored in the (compact flash) memory card. And communicates with a computer via USB.

thats not why minidisks failed. (3, Insightful)

graigsmith (868939) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048015)

sony did enuf marketing, if they put their weight behind it. it STILL would have failed. just like CD's are failing. 1 reason, they did not listen to their customers. customers want ease of use, back and forth direct digital copying, mp3 or ogg support (none of this transcode to atrac bull). They dont want unfriendly DRM. They dont want sony's crappy/ugly/bloated software. Other companies offer players that do this, why can't sony?? i dont know why. i wouldn't have hated my minidisc if i could just plug it in, open the drive and drop mp3's on it. but no i had to go through sony's horrible software that everyone hates, just to do what should be the simplest thing in the world. directly copy a file to my minidisk player.

Re:thats not why minidisks failed. (1)

phekno (719662) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048087)

I doubt CDs are failing. Unlike mp3s and other formats (FLAC is the exception) they are not a lossy format if you record them correctly. Not only that but if you buy them from the stores they are indestructible. Plus, when you buy them in the stores you have a much bigger selection. Try finding The Beatles on iTunes. Not going to happen. I used to have an iPod and now I'm in the process of updating my CD collection because they will probably never go away. OK yeah they probably will, but not any time soon. Sony's rootkit business was shitty but it still doesn't change that CD's are here to stay for a while. Here's an analogy: vinyl is to casettes as CDs are to mp3s (and other crappy lossy digital formats).

oh that's rich (3, Interesting)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048017)

MiniDisc offers unlimited storage space.

Sure they do, if you buy unlimited discs. You could also buy more flash drives for your mp3 player and carry them around or you could be satisfied with the hour after hour of songs most mp3 players offer (4 gB with the iPod nano). To say that mini discs have unlimited storage is intelectually dishonest. That's like saying that floppy disks have unlimited storage.

Recording options (1)

Plug (14127) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048022)

On a related note, I'd like to buy a setup for 'surreptitious audio recording', namely recording of shows by artists that have an open trading policy, but who don't let you waltz in with a microphone stand. I tried this on minidisc once but having to change discs was annoying and battery life was bad.

Is MD still the way to go? Is there a good digital audio recorder out there? What sort of microphone should I get?

Re:Recording options (1)

ericdano (113424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048077)

Get a Marantz compact flash unit. I use a PMD660 with a 2 gig cartridge. You can record stereo, for 3 hours. The mic I use is a Rode NT4. Having the mic run on Phantom power via the XLR cables makes a huge difference. You could probably get the whole setup for about $1000.

The death of minidisc (2, Informative)

confu2000 (245635) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048027)

I was a big MD fan in 1997 up until the iPod came out. Why'd the iPod make me drop MDs?
1) At the time, you had to record a Minidisc from a CD at 1 to 1 speed over an optical cable. No way to rip to a PC and transfer. You could rip an mp3 at 8 to 1 speed.
2) Because you had to record from a CD, playlist management was a pain.

Until the iPod, MD was still competitive because
1) Flash players relied on memory cards which were expensive.
2) HDD players ate batteries and had crappy runtimes. And they were heavy too.

The iPod was the first HDD based mp3 player that had a combination of acceptable battery life, form factor, and easy playlist management.

He makes a semi-decent point about saving the format by using it with PSP. Sadly, having a recordable format would run counter with Sony's fear of piracy so that idea is really a nonstarter.

Really? (0, Offtopic)

M0b1u5 (569472) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048029)

I'm a MiniDisc guy. I've always been.

Interesting, interesting. Mind explaining that?

Oh wait, that's right, you were in nappies when the Sony Walkman Cassette player was around. :P

Oh cry me a fucking river. (1, Redundant)

BJH (11355) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048034)

Summary of article: "I bought into a proprietary format which is (a) crap and (b) dying out, somebody please wave a magic wand and make things different."

I'm so very sorry you weren't able to see the mp3 player locomotive steaming straight at you. Tough luck, try again with another Sony product that will disappear in a few years (movies on UMD, anyone? No?)

Re:Oh cry me a fucking river. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048047)

you beat me to it, this guy should suck it up and spend the couple hundred bucks a decent ipod costs....and shut up about it. this article wasn't slashdot worthy.

Karma Dispenser Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048045)

Hello all, I have FIVE modpoints today and nothing to do with them. Reply to this thread, and I will dispense a karma point unto your account.

Re:Karma Dispenser Post (1)

Slartibartfast (3395) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048050)

It's like Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame)'s argument re: Santa: I don't believe he exists, but there's no downside to believing he does, and if he does exist and I don't believe in him, I won't get presents.

So, yes, I'll respond to your post. ;-)

Re:Karma Dispenser Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048076)

Ah yes. Pascal's Wager.

Re:Karma Dispenser Post (1)

Slartibartfast (3395) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048110)

That's right! I'd forgotten!

Re:Karma Dispenser Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048054)

Mod me up!

Re:Karma Dispenser Post (1)

mustardayonnaise (685416) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048085)

give me a point! :) ok, that aside, I'm sure i'm echoing what other people have already said, but it seems to me that this dude is simply a)clutching to an obsolete past, and b)regretting that he bought into the wrong technology, and now that he's invested countless hours of setup time to get his MD player to work properly, he doesn't want to make the transition over to the mainstream. so instead, he evangelizes (translated: complains) about a near-worthless technology that no one cares about. good luck, pal. i think everyone here is pretty sold on their ipod.

No, really, MD was never alive. (1)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048074)

Obsolete floptical media.
No MD-ROM.
Proprietary format.

If you want a disc, what's wrong with a 3.5 inch DVD+RW?

In the long run, no moving parts(flash) will be the obvious choice.

MD could make a comeback when Zip-Discs do.

Re:No, really, MD was never alive. (1)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048168)

In 2000, 3.5" DVD+RW players couldn't fit inside an Altoids tin, and still can't. MD players bascially could. The article is simply saying NetMD and Hi-MD could have been alive, mostly if Sony had removed the SonicStage DRM.

I hate Sony but I love my MD MZ-R70... (2, Interesting)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048079)

I have an old school MiniDisc player that was bought on eBay. MZ-R70. What is it about 1999-vintage technology that is still so good? The little devil is 3" x 3.25" by less than an inch thick, and made of anodized aluminum. It gets ridiculous amounts of playtime and somewhat less ridiculous amounts of record time on a single AA battery. It's not CD quality but it does the job for both podcasts and live recording of my husband's many bands.

Yes there are new MD players out there. They now can record in non-compressed PCM, which only yields 15 minutes of record time per disc. However, Sony totally overcomplicated the interface with bells, whistles and a jogwheel. I couldn't figure the new one out...I will have to study TFM to figure it out for my friend Jim. The MZ-R70, however, is very easy.

I hate Sony. I really really HATE Sony. But their electronics, particularly their vintage stuff, still rocks.

The article would be right, if Hi-MD were 4GB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048082)

If:
(a) we could buy a 4GB Hi-MD disc for $20, instead of four 1GB discs for $20,
(b) SonicStage didn't suck, and
(c) Sony could shrink the players to iPod Nano size

then Hi-MD would be the best choice for most people. Even two out of the three would make it pretty good.

A good mp3 player to record with? (1)

Malluck (413074) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048083)

The only advantage I've seen with MD is the ability to record decent audio on the go. Get yourself a good mic and your in business.

Any mp3 players out there able to do that much? I've been rather disappointed with record feature on the ipod (crappy mics and poor bitrates).

HDD / Flash will win out in the end. (1)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048086)

I've heard people argue time and time again that removable media devices have "unlimited" storage capacity and can last forever on a single AA battery.

Really, storage capacity is limited to the size of the size of your pockets. And as for battery life, well, I never need to change the AA battery in my iPod... it doesn't have one. It plays for about 12 hours and odds are, it will probably find itself connected to my Powerbook before that battery runs out.

I used to think minidisk was useful as a portable recording solution, but I'm kind of over it.

If anything, I view MD as audio Beta.

Re:HDD / Flash will win out in the end. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048101)

The size of the size of your English skills are lacking!

Why Sony has a clue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048093)

The article is clueless on some basic points.

The first is that the iPod does have the same "unlimitted" storage capacity is the Hi-MD. The cost-per-gigabyte of the iPod is comparable to the cost-per-gigabyte of Hi-MD disks -- but a whole lot more convenient. What would you rather carry with you, 100 Hi-MD disks or two iPods?

A 60-gig iPod stores more music than anybody owns. It stores more music than anybody WANTS to own. It stores more music than the average teenager has heard in their entire lifetime. No matter how you slice the pie, iPods offer essentially unlimitted music storage capacity vs. Hi-MD.

The iPod disks are much more reliable than you think. They do not spin all the time. They grab all the music you need for the next 15 minutes, read into memory, then shut off the disk. I've watched kids abuse their iPods: they stand up to more punishment than you think. iPods are for kids, they are not delicate devices. In any case, flash players like the Nano are much more robust.

Here is the thing that everybody knows: external media is dead, gone the way of vinyl. Everybody knows that things like Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD are already essentially dead and are just the last gasp of the industry. The future is Internet downloads. Todays kids have grown up with Internet downloads to their iPods and think of external media as some weird quirk, kind've the way we look at that crazy uncle who still insists that vinyl records are superior to CDs. Sony knows this is coming. They know it's coming because it only really caught on in Japan, and has been declining in the face of iPods. They know the technology is dead.

Quality of Sound (2, Insightful)

tengu1sd (797240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048113)

The big pro is that ATRAC just sounds better than MP3. I can hear the difference. I've had 3 (Sharp) MD players over the years and I travel with one today.

The big failure is Sony's attempt to lock in their own lame software, restrict the functionality, and limit the use of MD. These would have been a great challenge to the Zip disks 10 years ago. Imagine being able to move data and music back and foward on a USB port.

Instead Sony tried to lock MD down, limited licenses to a few partners, and starved any reason to inovate. Sharp is dropping out of the MD business in the US. It's the same story as Betamax, another better quality standard killed by corporate lockdown. You can only buy a limited number of units.

I'll keep using MD until the next big thing comes along. After all, I still have cassette tapes and vinyl. Some of which I've archived on CD. As far as portable music goes Sony blew this big time.

Ugh (1)

Slovenian6474 (964968) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048119)

I bought a sony minidisc. It was great, had a VERY long battery life on 1 AA battery (50 some hours). The reason i ditched it for a mp3 player, i got to lazy to great new discs. It look SO much longer for sonicstage to convert and transfer the songs. A good 20-30 minutes to complete 1 disc.

Great for recording (1)

KC1P (907742) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048120)

I love MDs (I'm even more behind the times so I don't even have Hi-MD, much less an Apple-brand MP3 player), but the reason I love them is because they're great for recording, which (at least at the time I bought my stuff) the vendors didn't seem to take seriously. The fidelity is very good so I use them for recording amateur early music stuff (woodwinds and harpsichord), but the annoying thing is that the vendors only seemed to envision people using them to make mix discs and then go snowboarding (does everyone live in a Mountain Dew ad?), so it has digital input but only analog output (same as every other model I could find at the time). So that got annoying, I use my little Sharp MD player to record gigs (because it's portable) but then I had to get a Sony MD deck which had digital-out so I could play the discs into my sound card's optical input. Yes they *used* to be multi-vendor, sounds like that's not true with the new formats.

Anyway I know I'm far from the only amateur musician that uses these things to record their own stuff. It's nowhere near as big a market as walkman type stuff, obviously, but it seems like it's a market where vendors that can be satisfied with less than 100mil units/yr in sales could make some decent money. I bought a Fostex flash recorder because it was supposed to be better yet (no moving parts and no compression) but I hated it, the sound quality was bad (with the same mike that sounded great on the MD), the fiddly user interface was annoying, and it was way too big. Plus the fact that a piece of audio equipment is frickin' RED ought to be a clue it's made for the Do The Dew crowd!

So MD is ideal for some uses even if it's not great for the mainstream ADD folks who just need to hear constantly changing background noise 24 hours a day, and it'll be a shame if MDs finish dying out. It's awesome being able to get a high-quality recording of a gig that I can suck into Cakewalk for cleanup and then burn onto a CD (the opposite of what MP3 players are for), with better fidelity (to my ear anyway) than MP3s. And compressing the decompressed ATRAC stuff into MP3s seems to work pretty well too. Not bad for something I got for $140 at Sears.

Yeah... like UMD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048121)

Bah, whatever.... Oddly enough, I made a post somewhere else just making fun of Sony's "minidisc" just in relation to the failure of the UMD to catch on.

Proprietary tech in venues like this is ridiculously stupid. And the Minidisc was just one more failed betamax or laserdisk. I'm no mp3 player fanboy, but I realize "lost cause" when I see one. And for once, so did Sony.

Too Little Too Late (1)

TheSystemHasFailed (963214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048122)

First, I *love* MD. I think the portable players from Sony are outstanding, they use outstanding DACs, and the latest ATRAC implementations beat AAC and MP3 hands down.

But Sony totally screwed themselves because of how long they took at update the technology for higher capacity MDs. They *also* blew it by making MD require an MP3 to ATRAC conversion program (SonicStage). SonicStage is one of the worst pieces of software ever conceived. It's slow, counter-intuitive, and Windows-specific (as had been mentioned already). The iPod had already spent 1 year of gaining HUGE momentum at the time the 3G models came out before HiMD had been released. Great sounding units, great capacity, still the anchored by the same cruddy program to *SLOWLY* move MP3s to MD.

Too little, too late. By Sony.

Sorry I bought my HiMD (4, Informative)

jjn1056 (85209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048136)

I bought one of these devices back in August of 2005 to replace my portable DAT recorder that finally irrecoverably died. The device is really a hassle to use. Although the disk itself shows up as a removable drive, anything I recorded on it (even my own stuff recored via the microphone) needs to be imported using their special soundstage tool and then exported as a wav file before I can edit it. The soundstage tool is really buggy and cumbersome to use, plus it keeps trying to push me to their online music store.

I've also tried to use it for playing music when I am at the gym but again the soundstage software makes it hard to import the music tracks I want.

Overall the device is mediocre for all it's published uses. This is because of the software and interface.

Ditch the dot (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048141)

Saying ".mp3 player" makes you sound totally clueless. It's an mp3 player. Noone would ever say "Hey, can you rip me a dot-emm-pee-three from that album?"

Yeah I dont know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15048142)

The biggest disadvantage to me with any Sony media devices, as mentioned, is that they won't work on OS X or Linux systems. Even the Windows software sucks ass.

Essentially I like the idea of using big Minidiscs over HDD based devices, but until I can easily use it under Linux with my existing media in 320 kbps mp3 format, like I can with iPods or Creative devices, I'm not touching one.

I'm assuming that it still requires you to convert your music to ATRAC, lowering the quality, leaving a duplicate copy of it on your hard drive and preventing you from writing it to more than one minidisc. Just because I'm writing it to all the different players in the house doesn't mean I'm a mass pirate, it just means that the people in our house share the same music (usually listening to it at different times too).

The few people I know who bought a Sony media device became extremely frustrated at the restrictions it placed on them and the general crapness of Sonicstage. Many of them ditched their Sony devices and got iPods.

Minidiscs are useful, we use minidiscs in our school a lot for transferring recordings around, since there's quite a lot of rack-mountable equipment that will use a minidisc.

Missed opportunity (2, Insightful)

Digital Pizza (855175) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048148)

I remember when I first heard about the Sony MD in the early 90's; I was excited because I (foolishly it turns out) anticipated the use of those discs as low-cost portable computer storage. At the time there was no such thing, except I guess Syquest carts which as I recall were kind of expensive and just held 44 or 88 megs. The MD's 170MB capacity was pretty good back then.

Sony, of course, kept the MD music-only (at least in the consumer market) and the niche that they could have OWNED instead went to Iomega and their shitty ZIP ("click-of-death") carts (which were $20 apiece and held 100MB, still a great deal back then).

I'm a former MD addict and this guy's an idiot (4, Informative)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15048157)

Okay, I have close to 400 MiniDiscs, so let me tell you why I bought into MD wholeheartedly:

1) CDs suck. There's a reason why we stopped using 5-1/4" floppies. 5" media is just too large. It doesn't fit in your hand. It doesn't fit in your pocket. Carrying a large number of them is about as fun as lugging around a coffee can.
2) CD player with optical out + MD with optical in = perfect sounding copy of a CD in a compact, sturdy package.
3) Human beings covet. They want pretty shiny objects they can hold and line up like conquests on a shelf. While some might argue their directory listing is just as sexy...it's more likely to make eyes glaze over than pop out.
4) It's nice to be able to loan someone part of your collection or make that mix tape without handing them a $300 player (remotely authorizing their computer is again, vastly unsexy as a gift)
5) My high-end MD in 1997 looked better and was smaller than any other audio player, and that includes that newfangled Rio thing that had just come out.
6) Boy, did I love being able to record long classroom lectures without losing key parts while my classmates swapped tapes.

That said, this is the year 2006 and this guy has to be a complete idiot for not realizing that the MD has an incredibly superior replacement:

FLASH MEDIA.

Your average SD card or even CF card makes an MD look like a brick. MDs are not as indestructable as this yahoo would lead you to believe. The door eventually gets flukey just like 3-1/2" floppies did. I mean, it's a moving part and (especially on compact players) takes a lot of force to slide back and forth. Once the door is bent or starts catching, you end up either removing it and fearing that you've essentially rendered the point of having a media caddy useless, or losing your $1-2 investment.

Flash media, meanwhile, is ROCK SOLID. For crying out loud, someone shot a bullet through one and still pulled off the data it. And, MD will never win awards for access times. MD was fine for a linear activity like playing a CD, but jumping tracks is also just like a CD...you wait. The only thing Sony could be doing with Hi-MD is switch to a packet-based system...which is going to be murder on fussy drive mechanics.

Yes, flash media is expensive. But you can fit the equivalent of 8 or 9 MDs on a $35 flash card. True, a 1GB MD costs a lot less but this is the same song as Zip, or Jaz or SyJet or any other removable media. And how well have they worked out? A few years from now, a 1GB removeable media will seem as antiquated as a floppy disc. Meanwhile, flash capacities will continue to grow.

The only missing part of the equation is larger selection of players where you can remove the flash media. This is how they all started out (Rio etc) and honestly, I don't know why they have fallen out of favor. It adds maybe a few dollars to the price of a couple hundred dollar player. It can do the exact same magic, but with the all the advantages I described in the above MD praise.

So I think this guy needs to wake up and smell the present. I still think my 400 MDs look pretty as hell, and evey now and then I'll relax somewhere with my faithful Sony. And if I ever need to record 300 minutes of speaking, it's still the only thing I use. But the music that's on those 400MDs is now held on a portable hard drive and whenever I have a need to share it, I just copy it over to a USB thumbdrive. If I was still a Sony guy, it would be a MemoryStick. Maybe someday Apple will decide to bless a certain form of flash media like Sony has with the PSP but until then, my target platform is still the laptop.

So, while I can appreciate the romance involved in the MD, it's over. There are smaller, faster, sturdier and ($/MB) cheaper options. He can tilt against windmills if he wants to but, I'm ready to look forward to 8GB, 16GB and 32GB flash devices.

-JoeShmoe
.
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