Friday Apr 01, 2005

MiniDisk -vs- MP3

A recent Sun blog extolled the praise of the Sony MiniDisk. However, in my opinion, the MiniDisk is no longer a viable technology. I'll explain my thinking and offer reasons why you should consider an alternative - the MP3 player/recorder.

Note that I desire a portable device that can also record. I record some meetings, presentations, and voice dictation/reminders. But I also have the desire to record live concerts and gig band rehearsals in higher-quality stereo (I play the sax). I also like to jog listening to MP3s and/or the FM radio.

The $80.00 Sony ECM-MS907 is a perfect stereo mic for field/live recordings of meetings/presentations/concerts, etc. I've heard the $450.00 Rode NT4 is even better, but that's just too much for my taste.

Given that, here are my thoughts on portable MiniDisk -vs- MP3 devices:

  1. The MiniDisk will not upload any live recorded content to a PC. You have to capture the analog output of the headphone jack at real-time speeds (a 3 hour recording takes 3 hours)! A tiny MP3 player/recorder can record high-quality content (adjustable up to 256Kbps) and upload it digitally (no loss or added noise) at high-speeds using USB2.
  2. The MiniDisk has a motor and makes noise that a mic picks up (a low hum) when recording live (unless you can distance the mic from the unit)! An MP3 player is dead silent with no moving parts.
  3. The MiniDisk has moving parts: a motor, a rotating platter and moving read/write head. It is much more susceptible to wear and breakage and I/O errors than a solid state MP3 player. Think: jogging.
  4. The MiniDisk is larger and heavier which makes is less attractive for recording a meeting (sitting on the table) or concert (sitting in your pocket), or jogging (arm band).
  5. The MiniDisk has poorer battery life due to it having to drive a motor. Flash-based MP3 player/recorders last forever.
  6. The MiniDisk does not have a built-in FM radio. Many gyms offer TV broadcasts on FM frequencies. And MP3 devices have TiVO like features to auto record FM broadcasts.
  7. The MiniDisk is more expensive and MP3 player/recorders.
  8. The MiniDisk uses a non-standard audio compression format. An MP3 player/recorder will record in MP3 at up to 256Kbps - extremely high quality. While you might consider the audio quality pretty much equal, a standard format (MP3) is nice for broadcasting / sharing your live MP3 recordings.
  9. The MiniDisk just came out with 1GB media platters. However, many MP3 players support removable SD cards (at capacities up to 2GB and increasing). Plus, you can share your SD card between your MP3 player, Treo 650 phone, digital camera, etc.
  10. Lots of audio content is available on the Net in MP3 format, which makes it VERY easy to load and listen on the road (eg: in an airplane, on a treadmill, etc).
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