Top critical review
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My Hi-MD review
on 29 April 2005
I bought a Hi-MD unit because it's compatible with my existing MD collection, has long battery life which is also replacable and there appears to be doubts about the reliability of the hard drive devices around at the moment.
The unit has good sound with decent volume and the battery life lives up to expectations. You can also get over nine hours of good quality music at 64kbs on a conventional MD and 34 hours on a new 1GB disc. However, even my modest music collection will not fit onto 1GB, so disc swapping is inevitable. Depending on how much music you want to carry around with you, it may turn out cheaper and more convenient to go for a HDD player.
The controls are small and fiddley but after a bit of practice they are suprisingly easy to use. The display is barely adequate and a full width text display would have been beter plus there's no backlight.
As far as I can see, you have to use the supplied Sonicstage software which although does the job, it is very slow on my 550Mhz PC. The USB 1.1 inteface does not help either. There is also no convenient way of editing tracks (e.g. sound normalisation, fade-in and out etc). All tracks have to be converted to the ATRAC format so any MP3s you have are going to suffer an additional loss in quality. The software is cumbersome to use as a PC based music player. Windows Media Player will play single tracks on the PC but there appears to be no way of creating playlists.
The software imposes strict digital rights management which I still don't fully understand the scope of. It should not be too much of a problem with leagaly obtained music.
All said, it is a good unit has has some advantages over the latest crop of HDD and solid state units. However, I don't think it is the format for the 21st century unless the discs can be made with much bigger capacities and have a signicant price advantage over its rivals. It could also do with better software