Print 18 comment(s) - last by jester700.. on Mar 27 at 9:07 AM

Sony tries MiniDisc again with OLED, live recording, and Mac support

Sony Electronics Japan has recently announced a new version in their Hi-MD Walkman line of MiniDisc players/recorders. The new unit is modeled after the MZ-RH1 which have a few updates to improve on its predecessors including the MZ-NH1 which was introduced at the beginning of Q1 2004.

The MZ-RH1 has a 1-line OLED display on one of the sides instead to display track information, time, and certain setup options which have been moved from the face. The new model plays not only the original MiniDisc format and audio recorded live but has now added MP3 format compatibility. The live recording format allows selection of a few different types of sessions including 'jam' sessions or a business meeting -- creating crystal clear playback sound, according to Sony Electronics Europe.

Additionally, Sony has implemented support for Mac users to communicate with the MZ-RH1 which expands the market and may help the MiniDisc movement.

Sony has been pushing MiniDisc since the early 90's but it has been overshadowed by the introduction of flash and hard drive based personal MP3 players which are compatible with a wider range of audio formats. Sony is known for introducing proprietary media formats such as MiniDisc and, more recently, the UMD format used by its PlayStation Portable handheld gaming console.

The MZ-RH1 is said to retail at about 39,800 - 40,000 ¥ or about $350 USD when it is released in Japan in late April. Prices are expected to lower when the new unit comes to the US later this summer.

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If only...
By Xenoterranos on 3/24/2006 1:00:27 PM , Rating: 3
it had an internal HD and didn't require mini disks...

RE: If only...
By vshah on 3/24/2006 1:37:15 PM , Rating: 2
if that had a 4gig disk in it, and a full size oled display for the same price, i'd buy one

RE: If only...
By BillyBatson on 3/24/2006 1:56:04 PM , Rating: 2
eeven then there would be no reason to buy this over an IPOD except for its recording capabilities

RE: If only...
By dilz on 3/24/2006 5:50:12 PM , Rating: 2
I think that's where the sarcasm comes in.

By bob661 on 3/24/2006 1:29:21 PM , Rating: 2
$350 for last centuries technology? Do OLED screens cost that much?

RE: $350?
By PandaBear on 3/24/2006 1:31:12 PM , Rating: 2
Just like the rest of Sony's product, if they don't get their act together quick they are going down.

RE: $350?
By chilled on 3/24/2006 2:20:11 PM , Rating: 2
A 1-line OLED display? That's almost cutting 2003!

I wish they'd just drop the MD stuff. Or drop prices by $250.

By 8steve8 on 3/25/2006 12:27:08 AM , Rating: 2
atrac is much better quality audio compression compared to mp3...

hi-md disks store 1GB of music, and are cheap.

they dont require a computer to record....

i have an ipod shuffle for size and because there are no moving parts...

but i dont get why u guys give zero respect to this format... it has many virtues... especially if you do alot of recording.

probably solid state is better for most people, but jesus.. cd players are horrible for portable audio...yet new ones are released constantly.

RE: oi
By TomZ on 3/25/2006 3:22:54 PM , Rating: 3
ATRAC is a proprietary file format containing proprietary DRM. Why would I let Sony own the keys to the songs I purchase? Why would I have music files that can only be played on Sony equipment?

Sony Innovative?
By BladeVenom on 3/24/2006 3:09:51 PM , Rating: 3
Why not just try to bring back wax cyliner players, at least they have nostalgia going for them.

Sony Says: Bring back the 80's!
By Sahrin on 3/24/2006 8:57:39 PM , Rating: 2
Almost, Sony. But I think they're missing the huge but understated 8-track market by going with the advanced MD format. That digital display looks cool, too. I hear TI out of Dallas has a PDA-like device that actually has an 8-line display with full programability and it can play music. Damn.

<Less impressed with sony by the day>

By akugami on 3/25/2006 1:22:13 AM , Rating: 2
MP3 was relatively open, even though it's a proprietary format, and widely available. The cost of tools to encode it and decode it are zero.

I'm not too conversant on Atrac, but I'd assume you needed to use proprietary Sony software or hardware to do so originally. It's like pretty much all proprietary Sony formats, it's main purpose is to lock you into Sony branded hardware. Beta, MiniDiscs, Atrac, Memory Stick, UMD's. Most of these were failures. The Memory Stick is semi-successful but only because it's being pushed by all Sony hardware products. Also, MD's were never that popular in the US market. And when DAP's truly came into it's own, MP3 was the more popular format. It's not always the technologically superior format that wins.

In truth, Memory Stick isn't even a needed format, it doesn't do anything flash drives, CF, or SD cards didn't already do and do it cheaper at that. It's main purpose is to create licensing fees for Sony when others make Memory Stick products and to try to lock you into the Sony fold.

It's ironic but Sony's own push for proprietary formats is what kept it from gaining any signifcant share in the DAP market.

And as for CD players, there are new breeds of CD players that can play MP3's and can last about 20+ hours, with some in the 50'ish hour range on 2 AA batteries. Heck, Sony itself sells one that's suppose to get 80 hours on Atrac or MP3 and 50 hours on redbook audio CD's. CD players are actually under rated considering the new breed can play MP3's, and are cheap, usually around 50-70 dollars. You can burn MP3 compilations with a couple hundred songs and keep an archival collection without the need to constantly redownload songs like a flash or hd based mp3 player. And yes, it features am/fm radio as well.

As for better audio formats, AAC (or some form of it) is likely the next audio format everyone uses and is at least equal to Atrac. Atrac's time has come and gone.

: :
By stephenbrooks on 3/25/2006 10:58:00 AM , Rating: 2
I quite like the idea of a smaller-than-normal CD/DVD/BluRay disk though. This was done a bit with those small CDs you got in business cards. What would be nicer is a small disk that was in the industry standard DVD (or later BluRay) format and then a player for that.

By Griswold on 3/25/2006 2:23:55 PM , Rating: 2
MiniDisc? MP3? WTF! I want 8-track back!!

Long overdue
By johnsaw on 3/25/2006 2:40:06 PM , Rating: 2
They should have made MD-mp3 player three years ago. But now you can get 60GB players about the size of a MD player. Three years ago 700MB+ removable and relatively cheap "flash" would rock, but not today.

Why an internal HD?
By chico75pi on 3/26/2006 10:13:53 AM , Rating: 2
I don't get it: why do you want an internal HD? If it got damaged you have to trash the entire unit. With 8$ you buy a 1GB Hi-MD and you can expand your memory as you like. If a media got still have the unit! Then you can archive the disk you don't listen to, and pop-in a new disc, without deleting stuff...

I own a Hi-MD and once you've tried it, there's no mp3 player that can stand it!


By jester700 on 3/27/2006 9:07:45 AM , Rating: 2
Although Sony wanted to position MD against iPod, that was a mistake, for the reasons many have cited. MD is a GREAT portable recording platform. If they'd have brought this model (and the newest software that's less piracy-paranoid) out when Hi-MD first appeared, it would have kicked butt in the semi-pro location recording, journalism, and radio markets. 1GB discs for $7 each? 90 minutes of 16 bit linear stereo recording, or 8 hours of "CD quality" ATRAC per disc? Awesome.

But at this late date, solid state recorders have appeared, and as their cost (and media cost) drops, Sony has lost its chance to own that market. Yet another betamax...

By DIGIPHOTOS on 3/25/2006 9:40:55 AM , Rating: 1

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
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