*apologies for cross-posting: this also appears @ atraclife.com* After months and months of looking and watching, I bought an HD5 this morning. It was NZ$550 (not too bad) and I've got it charging at the moment. Time enough to write about some initial thoughts (and this will be ongoing as I use it). First, I've always preferred ATRAC and Sony's MD players. I've an N710 minidisc recorder, and absolutely love it, particularly the sound. About five months ago, I couldn't stand 'not knowing' and picked up a 6GB Ipod Mini. It lasted all of 7 hours in my hands. The sound quality was absolutely awful, in my opinion. I tried numerous codecs and bitrates for it, but reasoned that file quality couldn't help the lacklustre audio circuitry of the Ipod. I did head-to-head comparisons with my N710 and the Ipod just couldn't hold a candle. So, I gave it to my wife, and she's tickled pink (and not at all an audiophile). I should also point out that I use a pair of Shure e4c canalphones that I picked up in June. Before that I had been using a pair of Sennheiser PX200 headphones. Anyway, have studied the new Walkman announcements here on the forums (and on others) and just didn't see the likelihood that, here in NZ, we'll see them anytime soon. Having said, it's probably fair to say that we do get some Japanese stuff before North America, but not a huge amount. I had been watching the discussions around the Net re: the HD5, cracking buttons, flimsy USB cover, problems with Sonic Stage, etc. I used Sonic Stage back when it was on version 2.3, but once I realised the optical recordings direct to the MD from my stereo were simple and, more importantly, reminded me of a time when I used to make mixed cassette tapes (I'm an 80s child), I immediately ditched SS. Before I bought the HD5 this morning, I installed SS3.2 and imported a few CDs in preparation for the eventual purchase. Importing went smoothly and the program itself seemed stable enough. I'm running a little IBM X40 ultraportable with a 1.2Ghz Centrino and 512MB of RAM. It's a pretty barebones machine - running mostly Office programs and a few specialised programmes (for statistics), but I generally keep it fairly clean when it comes to software. Convinced that SS would run well enough on my X40, I went out and picked up the HD5 (Black). Brought it home and started charging it. I immediately noticed the incredibly flimsy USB cover. In fact, it looks as if only one of 'guides' to the cover is actually working. Not sure if this is a concern or not, but it's clear I'm going to have to treat this *very* gently. I understand the design rationale behind the cover, but wonder really whether it could have been reinforced somehow. More to come once charging is complete and I start moving some songs over. That will, of course, be the real test.