The Good Tiny; excellent design; connects to PC via USB; excellent battery life; great sound quality (both recording and playback); uses cheap, removable media.
The Bad Copyright-protection technology slows down transfers and consumes disk space; can't upload recordings via USB; expensive.
The Bottom Line Sony's software drags down an otherwise fine product.
Sony Net MD MZ-N1
With its Net MD line, Sony has made the MiniDisc format more palatable to online music fans, allowing users to connect the units to a PC via USB and store between 74 and 296 minutes of MP3s on inexpensive media. The MZ-N1, the crown jewel of this line, allegedly offers superfast, 32X transfer speeds as well as the ability to record live audio. There's only one problem: As with Sony's flash-based MP3 players, copyright-protection software turns a silk purse into a something of a sow's ear.With its Net MD line, Sony has made the MiniDisc format more palatable to online music fans, allowing users to connect the units to a PC via USB and store between 74 and 296 minutes of MP3s on inexpensive media. The MZ-N1, the crown jewel of this line, allegedly offers superfast, 32X transfer speeds as well as the ability to record live audio. There's only one problem: As with Sony's flash-based MP3 players, copyright-protection software turns a silk purse into a something of a sow's ear.
Sony gets high marks for the design of this square, magnesium-encased marvel. It's no flash-based MP3 player, but the MZ-N1 is light--4.48 ounces with the battery installed--and takes up little pocket space at 3.0 by 2.88 by 0.75 inches. A navigation jog dial on the unit and a triple-function, pullout control on the thin, in-line, backlit remote enable easy access to all functions and information from either interface (except for Record, which has to be activated on the unit itself). Unfortunately, Sony didn't include a carrying case, but at least you can clip the remote to a bag strap or a shirt pocket while stowing the device elsewhere.
The MZ-N1 sits in its small docking station and recharges its battery using the attached AC adapter. This MiniDisc unit connects to your computer's USB port in order to download music at speeds faster than real time. Other than the USB connection, the MZ-N1 has all the standard MiniDisc connections: an analog line-in jack, an optical line in with a cable included, a mike input, a headphone/line-out jack, and an AC-adapter port.
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