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on 4 November 2004
I was recently looking to upgrade from my Sony MZ-R500 to a HD mp3 player when I noticed the new Hi-MD players. Having read some horror stories about mp3 players I decided to go with the tried and trusted MD format.
MD Walkman
The build quality is about the same as previous MD's - it feels like a bit of plastic, but seems quite robust. The navigation tools are excellent - you can navigate all tracks or by artist, album, group (Sony's equivalent of genre) and bookmark. The scroll wheel is very solid and you can skip through all the tracks whilst the MD is playing, which is good. Any of those categories can then be played normally, in shuffle-mode, single repeat, all repeat. It's very versatile! The remote stick is excellent - I haven't had one of these before and I love it. The headphones come on a short lead because of the included remote stick - this is fine, but when I plug my other headphones in (Sony MDR-G72's) the standard lead length plus remote stick is *very* long so I use my good headphones without the remote. The standard headphones are ok - good volume, bit high on treble and low on bass, but not a bad overall. My decent headphones are better though. :) My only gripe is that the volume is quite low on the player (with G72s). I can set this device to max volume (30/30) and it doesn't hurt - that's ok for me (ear specialists breath easy...), but bear that in mind if you like hearing damage on the move. The standard headphones are about 5 volume points louder than my G72's. The player also has a six band equaliser, which really does make a difference. You can use presets or create 2 settings of your own. These are both stored on each disk so you can customise the sound per disk, which is very handy.
Music Transfer/Software
The real drag with this device is the software. I hold most of my CD collection as mp3s on my PC so I don't have to keep swapping disks when I'm working. My plan was to convert the mp3's straight onto the MD. Think again. Some (not all) mp3s are clipped on sound peaks by Sonicstage so the sound "crinkles" and sounds terrible. Because of this I decided to revert to copying my CDs directly using MD Burner. This is a good piece of software - it connects to the CDDB painlessly and transfers to the player quite quickly (as quickly as ripping to mp3). *However*, MD Burner will *only* convert to ATRAC3Plus using 256, 64 or 48 kpbs. 256kbps is too big to get the best out of the new capacity and 64kpbs sounds too like FM radio for my liking. Back to Sonicstage. :| Sonicstage will convert a CD into either ATRAC3Plus or ATRAC3. In ATRAC3 you get the choice of 132 (like LP2), 105 or 66 (like LP4)kbps. 132kbps sounds great, 105kbps is ok, but definitely starting to sound like FM to me so I plumped for 132kpbs as an optimum between sound quality and capacity. To get my CDs onto the MD using Sonicstage I first had to convert them into 132kbps omg files (Sony's proprietary sound format) and then transfer them onto the MD via the USB. The CDDB access doesn't work on my install of Sonicstage so I also had to manually edit the artist, album and track details. Also, Sonicstage puts the last track first and the remaining tracks in order so you have to check the running order before renaming the files. Alternatively, I converted some of my mp3's to wav's using FreeRip and then converted these to 132kbps. This has the same drawbacks as converting the CDs (manually editing details), but it does work just so you know you're huge mp3 collection isn't wasted. :) I also tried playing tracks off the MD via Sonicstage, but it complains of rights issues even though there are none - basically it doesn't work.
Capacity
On the 1Gb disk that comes with the MD I have managed to get 19 albums onto the disk (at 132kbps). I have 59Mb left so I just need to find an album that compresses to within that size and, Fay Presto, 20 CDs on 1 disk. Not bad! This compares favourably with 1Gb of mp3 player capacity, however the sound quality of 132kbps is *excellent*. A standard 80 min. MD formats in Hi-MD as a 290Mb disk. I have managed to get about 5 albums on one of these, but they were quite big albums.
Removable Drive
As a removable drive this thing is absolutely fantastic. I use Windows XP and when I first connected the USB cable XP detected the hardware, installed the drivers in about 10 seconds and then I had a new removable drive. You can drag and drop files to the player and back again without any problems - its sweet! I've used it to transfer some data to a friends PC (on XP again) and it was perfect. Floppies schmoppies! You can dump data and music on the disk without any problems as well. Transfer rate is ok - 50Mb in 2 minutes on one test. I've tried this on USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 and noticed no difference. Amazon mention USB 2.0, but the manual doesn't and I suspect this has just a USB 1.1 interface, but it's fast enough. I've played video from the MD and that's ok - 1 or 2 skips, but nothing major so I don't think speed is a real problem.
In conclusion, I think the MD itself is fantastic both for music and data and I'm glad I bought it even if my best friend calls it Betamax. On the other hand, the software is good enough, but could be less tedious in places hence the 4 stars.
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on 19 October 2004
I was amazed when i got it thorough the door. I mean the presentation of the box and stuff is nice. Also the contents in the box and good for the price. I mean you get everything, inclusing a 1gb mini disc. Ha and its amazing what iv stuck on it, i have like 200 songs on it, around 15 albums and i still have hundereds of space. I would highly reccomend it. It looks nice aswell, just the meues are a little bit weird but it will take time to get use to, and the software on the computer is extremly eeasy to use.
Not a bad point against it, excelent for the price. Thanks amazon!
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on 11 January 2005
This machine is superb. I got it for a christmas present and within an hour had transferred all my WMA's into the ATRAC3 format required by the MD player. I took this on holiday to Mexico and throughout the whole trip using a 2100 mAh battery for 15 days it only dropped two bars of battery life, with constant use of up to two hours a day! The Sonicstage software is tricky and slow to use, but one gets the hang of it and it does not take long to convert uncompatiable formats. My brother has a Ipod, and eventually the battery will run out losing all his music. I highly recommend this product!
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on 16 March 2010
Lovely sound from this but outdated now although mp3's not within a mile of minidisc output.
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on 13 April 2016
Excellent product and service
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on 28 September 2015
bought as a gift
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