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Hi-MD - IPod/River Alternative?

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by Jamp, Oct 12, 2004.

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  1. Jamp

    Jamp
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    Hi All

    Am thinking of looking into choices for personal audio. I currently have all of my (digital) music on my PC, mainly as variable bit rate WMA but a few MP3 too, total of around 3500 tracks which amount to around 9GB. I know an Ipod would be the fashionable solution and an IRiver or nPod an alternative, but I can't help but wonder what the point of having 10 days of music in your pocket is, if your battery will be flat within a few hours. Hence, I've started thinking about my old friend the MiniDisc as I've always been a fan and my trusty MZR-91 is still going strong. I realise there is a supply issue with the Hi-MD discs at the moment, but that should be resolved soon enough surely. The entry level Sony is around £110, and 1GB discs probably around £5 when supply settles down; so the MD option is winning financially too.

    From reading online it sounds like Hi-MD players will still only read ATRAC formats, so I presume the files on my PC would need converting. I'm at uni and most of my original CDs are at home so converting would be preferable to re-encoding. How arduous would the WMA to ATRAC3plus conversion process be? Would I lose quality? Most of it is in VBR at around an average of 80kbps, some is as low as 64kbps non variable though; at the time of encoding I decided that would do for playing through ~£80 PC speakers.

    Why don't Sony make it an MP3 and WMA player too? Surely it wouldn't be too hard to implement along with ATRAC support..?

    Does anyone agree the MD is a good way forward? Anyone got a Hi-MD player or have any advice to offer?

    Cheers,

    Ben :)
     
  2. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    I thought Sony had a change of heart and were making their walkmen mp3 compatible too? I thought that included their 'ipodalike' and HiMD?

    If not, then you'd just use sonic stage to do the conversion, and it happens as you transfer, so you can keep your PC collection in mp3/wma, and it only becomes ATRAC as its being squirted down the USB cable.

    Having said all that.... I can see your point about battery life, but wouldn't it be handy to have all your tracks available without taking 10 discs with you and swapping them around? 12 hours for ipod and around 18 for iriver/Creative zen is pretty good.
     
  3. Matt Horne

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    Sony Vaio Pocket (VGF-AP1) 20GB or 40 GB available... on sale at Vaio stockists/microanvika etc etc or on the web from ebuyer/dabs/savastore

    RRP £250

    I bought one a couple of days ago.. plays ATRAC it may do mp3 in the future.. but with version 2.1 of sonicstage it was very easy to convert the files during transfer to the unit.

    You have to check it out.. once you see the colour screen showing the album artwork nothing else looks as good, great sound lovely piece of kit, even has a 3 line remote + docking station included.

    Oh and its has a 20hr (though its rumoured to last even longer!) battery life :)

    Worth every Penny :

    http://vaio.sony-europe.com/ShowPro...ategory=VAIO+Portable+Players&product=VGF-AP1
     
  4. Jamp

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    Many thanks for the replies. So does the convertion to ATRAC literally happen as fast as it transfers to Hi-MD? Just been playing with my mate's iPod and that needed WMAs converting before we transfered.

    I take your point about carrying discs about Richard, but the only time I'd can forsee really wanting every bit of my music collection with me at one time would be when going on holiday. Sticking another AA into an MD player would be a lot easier than having to try to force my iPod/iAlternative plug into a foreign socket, and I could probably tollerate taking 10 discs on such occassions.

    The Vaio Pocket looks like a great bit of kit on paper, not sure it looks so pretty in the photos though, it's also a touch bigger than the iPod so might struggle to fit into the smallest of pockets. After a bit more research, I really like the look of the Sony NW-HD1 Walkman. This has all the right specs and definately supports WMA out of the box, plus it looks fantastic in the metal (I just had to visit the Sony Centre to have a gawp!), just a shame it doesn't share the colour screen with the Vaio or it would be very far ahead of the game.

    Since I've been doing this research for myself, I've discovered I need to do a product comparisson essay for my engineering management module at uni, this seems the perfect idea. So, if anyone would like to contribute a mini review of any high capacity personal audio product (doesn't necessarily have to meet my criteria set out above), I'd be very grateful indeed. Or any links to websites that may be helpful (other than the obvious one of the manufacturers) would be appreciated too. One thing I'm going to find tricky is trying to calculate the manufacturing costs and profit levels and so on, somehow I doubt Apple or Sony will be too forthcoming with such information!

    Thanks again,

    Ben :)
     
  5. extremelydodgy

    extremelydodgy
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    I have three of the players... iPod, NW-HD1, MZ-NH1 (Hi-MD) and have spent quite a long time with the VGF-AP1. I'd like to be of help but I don't like wading through huge posts. If there's anything you want to ask, please do so (concisely) :D
     
  6. Ekko Star

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    Ipod, mini-ipod and HD1. Which one best for an 11yr old ? Have been asked one as a present.

    Face value mini-ipod appears attractive but compared to the other two probably not the best value.

    Which did you find the best, easiest to use and robust ?
     
  7. extremelydodgy

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    The Mini is probably the most robust, and definitely significantly easier to use than the NW-HD1. Small hands are a factor I guess and the Mini's good in that way too. There is not a huge learning curve in learning to use it (although you may have to hold their hands through using iTunes initially). You could also consider the Creative Zen Micro and Rio Carbon, both of which offers more bang for the buck than the Mini, but as far as playground-cred goes, the iPod Mini is the dogs danglies I would imagine. Hope that answers your thread-jack.
     
  8. Ekko Star

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    Had A look at the Sony, very nice and very well built.

    Probably mini-ipod or the 20Gb one. Do these come with everything in the box to get running on a XP PC ?
     
  9. Matt Horne

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    yes.. the stand has a usb cable which you connect to your pc (Sony pocket). Nothing else needed other than installing the included sonicstage.
     
  10. Ekko Star

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    Does the 20Gb Ipod or mini-ipod come with a USB 2.0 cable to hook up to a PC.

    Will I need anything else ?
     
  11. extremelydodgy

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    Any player these days comes with everything you need to get going with Windows 2000 or beyond.
     
  12. Ekko Star

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    Ok I thought so, but wasn't sure the ipods came with everything for the PC as they were MAC geared. Had read somewhere a few cables were excluded from the box ?
     
  13. alancolledge

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    I bought a 4th gen 20 gb Ipod a couple of weeks ago having considered the mini. I figured the 20 gb was only £40 more for 5 times the capacity.

    I have a PC and Windows XP home. Mine came with a USB 2.0 lead and a firewire lead, charger adapter and a cd rom with Itunes.

    I just put the disk in and followed the instructions dead easy and I really give ITunes the thumbs up as a way of organising my music....simple and effective.

    But if it is for your 11yr old I would agree that the mini would be best for playground cred. However if it might have some of Dad's music on it too go for the 20gb!
     
  14. Jamp

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    Hi All

    I decided against this for my management project in the end as it was going to be too difficult to figure out the costs of manufacture with any accuracy given the complexity of the products. I did performance air filters for cars instead - bit of a contrast!

    Thanks for the input all the same. As a matter of interest, what do you think of Hi-MD as an iPod alternative extremelydodgy? How good is the interface compared to Apple's?

    Cheers,

    Ben :)
     
  15. Ekko Star

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    That's what I thought (would have saved me a few bob as well) but oh no....she wanted the white 'proper' one...apparently the mini one in plaground cred means you have gone cheap !! :suicide: Then given the choice of the 20/40Gb she wanted the 40Gb as that would "last" her longer.

    All this without any coaxing or suggestions from any adult I assure you. Kids nowadays are just far too clever for there own good. :mad:

    Mind you I have downloaded 30Gb of all kinds of music already on the PC onto it already. The rest she can do herself from the tons of CD's she's got. I got fed up doing it for her ! She was getting on frighteningly quick with I-tunes when I left her it was almost scary, but it gives cred to Apples UI that even kids can pick it up that easy.
     
  16. alancolledge

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    We may think we are cool as adults but I guess we are more out of step than we think!
    Either way your daughter is a very lucky girl, I just got Star Wars figures and tin can alley for my 11th birthday!

    Jamp,
    I used to have a normal MD player and took loads of discs with me on holiday. I have just come back from Lanzarote for the week and used my Ipod quite a bit. I relished that I have all my tunes without fiddling in the crampt airline seats changing discs like I had. I know this isn't the same as Hi-Md.
    My problem is that with 2200 odd tracks on it what the hell to you choose first! You spend an age searching for something to listen to! I choose a playlist to reflect the mood I was in and put it on random.
     
  17. extremelydodgy

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    As a "system" i.e. a marriage of software, firmware and hardware, the Hi-MD as a playback device sucks donkey testicles compared to the iPod. Comparatively speaking Hi-MD is OK for limited listening and sound quality is pretty high, but if you’re using the capabilities of Hi-MD purely as a player, they just do not make sense when you stack up the midrange units up even against the Rio/Creative/Apple ‘mini’ players, let alone the ‘full size’ hard-disk players.
    Where Hi-MD excels in is recording. I think generally speaking the MD/Hi-MD machines are still the best recorders on the market.
     

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