Easy as pie
Hooking up the Xitel to our Windows 2000 machine was a matter of merely connecting the player and watching the driver install itself automatically. Connecting the device to machines running Windows 98 and Me is only slightly harder. When you plug the AN1 into your computer, your multimedia preferences change, sending audio out to the AN1 via USB instead of your sound card. Thankfully, your preferences revert when you unplug the unit.
Using the AN1 is fairly intuitive; just plug it in, press Record, push Play on whatever software you use to play audio, and the AN1 will pick it up and send it to your MiniDisc recorder. The box includes a registered copy of MusicMatch Plus (normally $20), which lets you rip tracks as fast as your drive can go.
A possibility for some
You can use the AN1 for other things besides recording MP3s to your MiniDisc unit, since it's just outputting analog audio via USB. For instance, the Xitel can join your computer and stereo or act as a substitute sound card. But no matter what you do, you're essentially replacing a $3 cable with a $40 gizmo. The AN1 did not deliver significantly improved quality over our fairly standard sound card. We recommend first buying an 1/8-inch-to-1/8-inch wire, plugging one end into your sound card and the other into your MiniDisc player's mike input, and recording your files that way. If you're dissatisfied with the results, then think about the AN1 as an option. But another $20 gets you the DG2, which does the same thing as the AN1 except with a pure digital connection that results in better sound.