Sony's iPod-busting MD player comes to UK

MP3 players

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.

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  • 64kbs ATRAC3 isn’t as good as 128Kbs mp3, yes I agree with that – but in my opinion 64kbs ATRAC3-PLUS is as good as 128kbs mp3 – in fact I think it’s a little bit smoother and easier on the ear, and definitely much better than ATRAC3.
    You can try it for yourself by downloading Sony’s SonicStage 2.0 software

  • Don’t forget that Hi-MD is using Atrac3Plus which is different from Atrac3 – it offers higher compression for an equivalent fidelity based on a 16-band filtering process. It’s the same process that Coding Technologies applied to MP3Pro.

  • Steve I have done the ‘maths’ already

    Sony is actually claiming around 50 hours at 64kbps using ATRAC. So I thought that 30 hours would be a more realistic figure.

    Still pretty impresive though.

  • Note that 128kbps is about 1 minute per megabyte or 16 hrs per GB. Sony believes that ATRAC is so good that 64 kbps is equivalent to 128kbps mp3.

    My experience has been that it isn’t … they are roughly equivalent … but users should draw their own conclusions (I don’t have much faith in the Sony funded tests as the methodology is questionable). I think it is realistic to consider this a 15-16 hour of music player (albeit you can have several disks).

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