The Sony MZ-N710 Net MiniDisc Walkman offers great looks, a compact design, up to 85 hours battery life and the ability to store over five hours of music on one 80-minute MiniDisc.
MiniDisc technology has come on leaps and bounds these past few years. As the units have become smaller, the battery life and storage capacity have increased. The MZ-N710 is compact unit that fits nicely into a pocket or in your hand. The player boasts an LCD display for track listings and other such information, as well as offering all the buttons you'll need to get the most out of the device. For direct audio recording the user has the option of microphone, digital optical and line-in sockets. Those with a PC can connect the MZ-N710 to their computer via the USB socket.
Connecting the unit to your computer via USB allows you to transfer CD audio, MP3, WMA and WAV files using the included SonicStage software. The software converts the audio files into Sony's ATRAC TYPE-S format before transfer. You can also change the audio quality setting to give yourself more music per disc. When it comes to recording, the MZ-N710 does an admirable job too. With the Quick mode you can have faster queuing and FF/RW speeds in exchange for battery life. The unit also offers a bookmark track function for easy access to relevant recordings.
The MZ-N710 is powered by a rechargeable Ni-MH battery which is charged via the included cradle. There is also the option of adding an addition 'AA' type battery via a connectable battery dock. The additional battery dock will be a godsend to those who plan to be away from the charging cradle for any length of time. The remote control also serves as the main conduit to the player, allowing the main unit to be hidden out of eyes reach.
Aesthetics aside the sound quality is very good. The player comes with six graphic equaliser settings and a virtual surround mode to enhance your listening pleasure. While sounding like a whim, the virtual mode is actually very good and on testing, it actually took away that hard edge normally found when listening to music through headphones.
Overall this is a very comprehensive player and delivers the goods. The slim and compact aluminium body does convey a sense of durability and it looks like it could take a few knocks. The ability to add a further battery can be a lifesaver if you are out in the field. --Jason Denwood
The Sony MZN710 minidisc recorder features Net MD that allows direct USB connection for copying music and up to 32x normal speed. It also features "MDLP", this allows for up to 320 minutes of stereo recording using ATRAC3 compression.