Sony has confirmed that its revamped version of its MiniDisc format, which it is positioning as a rival to hard disk based MP3 players like the Apple iPod, is to debut in the UK in late spring.
The new discs, christened Hi-MD by Sony, are similar to existing ones, only Sony has ramped up the capacity to one Gigabyte enabling users to store up to 30 hours of music (128kbps MP3 standard equivalent) on a single disc.
The other key advantage is that players using the new disc will also offer around 50 hours of battery life – as much as five times more than rival MP3 players.
Like their predecessors the new discs use a variant of Sony’s ATRAC 3 compression technology and incorporate its OpenMG and MagicGate copyright protection. This delivers excellent sound quality. Sony also scores points for amending its SonicStage 2 software so now the tracks can be transferred to and from players/computers as often as the user likes.
The first model to feature the new format is likely to be the MZ-NH1, a top-end player that will retail for around £300.