Ziggy Becket (ziggybecket) wrote,
Ziggy Becket

Digital Audio geekout!

I'm lj-cutting for those who don't share in my digital audio ramblings.

Basically it's stuff that was recently announced at the Consumer Electronics Show. Neato stuff. :)

On iPod Mini(Me), the new Hi-MD and a Playstation Portable theory.

iPod Mini
So most of you have probably heard of Apple's iPod, but they recently announced a smaller version, iPod Mini. I like to refer to it as MiniMe. :>

I dunno... I really admire the iPod in it's design and ease of use, despite the fact that I personally purchased an iRiver IHP-120.

But the mini looks... dunno, really over priced. It has 4 gigs of storage and if you look at the spec sheet, it's only slightly smaller then the current generation of iPod. Of course this is on a computer screen, so maybe once it's in your hands it will make a big difference.

Also, the specs say that the battery life is about 8 hours. Ugh! Come on! My biggest pet peeve with the iPod and the reason I went with the iRiver MP3 player was the battery life. The iPod lists 8 hours, but according to my co-workers who have the iPod, it's more like 6 with average use. The Mini is smaller and has a smaller capacity hard drive, but why only 8 hours of battery? :P

Finally, the price... I dunno. It lists for $245. But, the 15 gig iPod is $299. It has 15 gigs over 4 gigs! Why not just go with the regular iPod? I'm just... confused. I guess kids will like it because of the colors?

So this is very interesting, at least to me. I was a big fan of MD or MiniDisc. You may have seen them, they are basically the first digital audio players before the whole MP3 craze. They are huge in Asia and in some cases still outsell MP3 players.

Before MP3 hit the mainstream, MD players and recorders was the best way to record digitally. It let you record CD's digitally (over an optical link) and let you, delete and then rerecord on the same disk.

However, this technology has been aging. In order to record you have to do it linearly, ie play the song and let it record in real time. With MP3 players you just drag and drop songs onto your player.

So it looks like they are finally gonna give this format a big upgrade.

According the Slashdot story and it's included links. They've upped the capacity, kept some backward compatibility and making it more like an MP3 player.

For instance, it will still let you use your older MD discs. Apparently all you have to do is reformat them and an 80 min MD will now store 305 megs of data and music.Of course their new Hi-MD discs will store a 1 gig.

It will also finally let you use an MD disc as a computer storage device. Just plug it in via USB and it will show up as a drive! Very nice!

Now the concerns. :/

Recently, Sony made available NetMD, which basically lets you copy music to your MD player over USB. But only music and it has to be encoded in a special format, ATRAC3. So no MP3s here. With this encoding, you can only copy to and from the original computer, so no sharing of music if you connect up to a friends' computer. Also from the reviews, the software was slow and kludgey and memory intensive. Basically a pain in the butt to use.

I have the horrible feeling this is the same software that they are gonna use with Hi-MD. :P

There's going to be copy protection built into Hi-MD for those who've used NetMD, it's the same OpenMG/MagicGate crap that they had before.

So even though the new Hi-MD devices will show up as a hard drive when you plug in, it'll only let you store data files. You can drop in MP3 files too, but it won't play them as music. You'll probably have to reencode them to what they are calling ATRAC3plus.

One interesting note though, why do I get the feeling that they will be using Hi-MD as the disc format for the new Playstation Portable (PSP)? Just a theory, but it would make sense. 1 gig of data storage and the ability to store digital music. I wouldn't be surprised if the PSP will just be a Hi-MD player with a PS1 built in. :D Well the PSP isn't scheduled to be released until November 2004, so more waiting.

Edit: I just found out that the PSP will be using a disc called UMD (Universal Media Disc), which then begs the question, why is Sony making so many media formats when they can reuse some of them. :P Anyway, apparently UMD is a type of mini-DVD derivitive and will hold 1.8 gigs to the Hi-MD's 1 gig.

I dunno, I guess time will tell when these devices actually come out. Hi-MD looks really interesting and may well save the MD format, but from the looks of it, it won't be replacing my 20 gig iRiver MP3 player.

Wow... if you actually read this this stuff... I'm impressed! :)
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