Meet the New Walkman
July 1, 2004 7:02 AM   Subscribe

Meet the new Walkman. 20GB HD, 25 minutes of cache for skip-free playing. Works with Sony's Connect music service. Sharp-looking little player.
posted by jpoulos (48 comments total)
Won't play MP3's, ergo, doomed to failure.
posted by metaxa at 7:07 AM on July 1, 2004

*takes out portable 8-track player, inserts Iron Butterfly tape, cranks volume*
posted by jonmc at 7:08 AM on July 1, 2004

Oh yeah, and it won't play mp3's, ergo, it's doomed to failure. :-)
posted by jpoulos at 7:09 AM on July 1, 2004

Finally, a player that requires me to convert all my songs to a format with horrible sound quality.
posted by punishinglemur at 7:18 AM on July 1, 2004

Actually, it does play MP3s, it just converts them to atrac and then plays that.

No, I don't understand it either.

Regardless, why is mefi the best place to post a "wow! Sony made a new product!" note?
posted by kavasa at 7:20 AM on July 1, 2004

Because Apple's conference earlier this week was boring.
posted by Mick at 7:25 AM on July 1, 2004

Later, they'll release a version that you can plug a mic into and record stuff. The recorder will then refuse to upload your interview/song/mental note/speech/bird song to your computer because you didn't download it from said computer in the first place. It's what the geniuses at Sony did with MiniDisc, in case you were wondering.
posted by NekulturnY at 7:27 AM on July 1, 2004

No MP3 + DRM = No Sale.
posted by pmurray63 at 7:32 AM on July 1, 2004

I'm actively in the market for one of these, but I'm not in the market for one of these. Pass.
posted by chicobangs at 7:37 AM on July 1, 2004

Full color screen? What kind of crappy battery life does that get? And how long does it take to upload 20Gigs over a USB connection?

I can hear Jobs laughing from here.
posted by ColdChef at 7:38 AM on July 1, 2004

My RCA Lyra did the same thing. It was sold as an MP3 player but really converted your mp3 file to a proprietary format first. I couldn't figure out what the benefit was in this other than maybe it saved RCA a few bucks on a license to the MP3 codec. On the other hand this proprietary codec wasn't free either. Either they bought it from somebody or they paid inhouse developers to develop it.

The only other possibility was DRM but I don't understand that either. It would translate generic mp3 and copy them to the flash card. It ended up gathering dust on my bookshelf. The mp3->whatever conversion made everything sound bad and I was philosophically opposed to ripping my CDs to the 'whatever' format because it could then only be played on Windows or the Lyra.
posted by substrate at 7:39 AM on July 1, 2004

Wait...20 hours of playback? Shut your mouth!
posted by ColdChef at 7:40 AM on July 1, 2004

This is what happens when consumer electronics companies own record labels.
posted by shoepal at 7:41 AM on July 1, 2004

See also
posted by Orange Goblin at 7:45 AM on July 1, 2004

This is why Sony is not a player in the digital music market. I was an avid MD user, but I eventually gave up waiting 74 minutes to record 74 minutes of mp3s onto a lower-quality format through my optical cable. When they did finally come out with NetMD (2 years too late,) it was play by their rules, use their software, and all my existing music was locked out. Not exactly a no-brainer buy. Who would buy a VCR that didn't let you play your existing tapes, and made tapes that only worked on that one unit? Sony should just admit defeat and move on. Open up or give up.
posted by cmicali at 7:48 AM on July 1, 2004

20 hours of playback at the lowest ATRAC level, it seems. The iPod could play 20 hours too, if it was playing 12bit, 16khz compressed mono audio.

I feel like Sony has really lost the plot. They were very good in the analog era, but digital not so much. As much as I used to love my Minidisc players, their stupid limitations on optical playback really hamstrung the devices and it seems that they are set on these policies.
posted by n9 at 7:52 AM on July 1, 2004

And how long does it take to upload 20Gigs over a USB connection? -- it is USB 2 so it is as fast as Firewire 400.

I had [actually I still have it but don't use it] one of Sony's 1st generation flash memory based players. It was tiny , it looked cool, but had the shittiest software that you had to use to translate your MP3 music to ATRAC [and that was a slow process -- and you had to keep copies of the MP3 and the ATRAC version so your music took up 2x the space on the hard drive]. It was a severe pain use.

Now I'm a happy camper with an iPod. No DRM unless you buy music from iTunes -- and 1000x easier to use.
posted by birdherder at 7:52 AM on July 1, 2004

FWIW, the Atrac software that came with my Sony Atrac3 CD Walkman sucks balls, For instance, it will convert MP3s to Atrac, but not whole folders YOU HAVE TO SELECT EACH SONG INDIVIDUALLY with a really terrible, cutesy interface, which is a ton of fun for, say, 1000 songs organized into folders by band & album.
posted by signal at 7:55 AM on July 1, 2004

I will put it on the shelf next to the Beta Max
posted by a3matrix at 8:03 AM on July 1, 2004

Regardless, why is mefi the best place to post a "wow! Sony made a new product!" note?

Not all post are deep. This one is good, if for no other reason, you get to find out from a wide range of people, whether or not the product is any good. No one bashes a crappy product like the Mefi crowd. And, they will give good reasons for bashing. You can learn a thing or two.
posted by a3matrix at 8:09 AM on July 1, 2004

So Transatlantic's 30 minute 'All of the Above' will skip? Pah! Never had that problem with tapes!
posted by salmacis at 8:17 AM on July 1, 2004

And how long does it take to upload 20Gigs over a USB connection? -- it is USB 2 so it is as fast as Firewire 400.

Except that you'll probably have to wait 24 hours, with your PC blocked at 100% CPU utilization, to convert 20G of mp3s to ATRAC.
posted by fuzz at 8:20 AM on July 1, 2004

I hear they come with a free bottle of Pepsi Blue.
posted by bshort at 8:40 AM on July 1, 2004

Tired: Sony's ATRAC
Wired: Dr. Who's Adric
posted by Stoatfarm at 8:41 AM on July 1, 2004

Well, at least it looks like it has a remote that will actually clip onto things, unlike Apple's, which is useless unless you're wearing tissue paper.
posted by dobbs at 8:48 AM on July 1, 2004

Sony makes great products almost all the time but they really just don't seem to understand the market they're trying to usurp.

Their software, in my opinion, has never been any good. I've got an older Firewire CD burner that came with the lamest and most useless garbage-ware ever.

On a related note, why would Sony bring this obvious loser in and take their Clie's away?

Dobbs, I've yet to find any of these little remotes that at all useful. The last one was on my Aiwa AM-F70 MD Recorder but it also had an LCD screen in it that was backlit and brilliant!
posted by fenriq at 8:53 AM on July 1, 2004

"The player sports a 2.2in, 320 x 256 26,000-colour LCD..."

Sweet! A color screen is what has been missing from my music listening experience.

That, and a toaster.
posted by tpl1212 at 8:54 AM on July 1, 2004

It is a shame that it doesn't do mp3 playback, because it sure does look nice. As it is, I don't think I'll be swapping my iPod any time soon.
posted by synecdoche at 9:02 AM on July 1, 2004

And besides, Sony is not the most competetive in price either.

I'm saving my money for Archos, which is very nice: no DRM, records mp3 and wav (44/16) from mic/ line input, S/P-DIF, flash-reader...
posted by hoskala at 9:09 AM on July 1, 2004

The player may suck in lots of ways, but I'm always interested in what Sony are up to - and at mefi I often like the nice simple posts the best. Thanks, jpoulos.
posted by nthdegx at 9:10 AM on July 1, 2004

Sony? Big fucking deal.

On the other hand, Commodore making an mp3 player, that's some news right there.
posted by qDot at 9:10 AM on July 1, 2004

MetaFilter: If its mainstream, then its CRAP!
posted by fenriq at 9:12 AM on July 1, 2004

MetaFilter: If its mainstream, then its CRAP!

Yes, because the iPod is totally fringe... And the point of most people's complaints are that the player doesn't use the most mainstream format, mp3s.
posted by jpoulos at 9:20 AM on July 1, 2004

Sony makes great products almost all the time but they really just don't seem to understand the market they're trying to usurp.

The problem Sony have is that their technical division is always having to cripple anything that comes out of it to appease their music division. The sooner the two split, the sooner we can get good technology that isn't riddled with DRM .

With regards to the Commodore launch, it's not really them. The name was bought by Tulip. They're just trying to cash in on some nostalga.

Ahhhh, my good old Amiga 500+...
posted by ralawrence at 9:25 AM on July 1, 2004

Those of us who have owned NetMD devices know that SonicStage is possibly the worst piece of software ever written for use by an enduser. It's the height of terrible DRM combined with a shoddy interface and clunky features. If they're going to force the user to work with SonicStage and ATRAC then they may as well burn this new device because no one will actually be able to use it.
posted by mmcg at 9:30 AM on July 1, 2004

What kind of encoding does it take to fit an album on 64k?
posted by keswick at 9:42 AM on July 1, 2004

Quite interesting watching the once king of portable media players, self-destruct before our very eyes, really, innit?

Sony's providing lots of good data for future historians to pick over, when they're researching the consequences of DRM. And for that, our children must thank them.

"Thank you Sony," - the children of the future.
posted by Blue Stone at 9:57 AM on July 1, 2004

It's a pity, because it looks rather nice, I think.
posted by carter at 10:07 AM on July 1, 2004

Doomity doomity doom doom doom
posted by mikeh at 10:26 AM on July 1, 2004

Probably make a decent doorstop. Otherwise it's a piece of crap. It does look nice.

*shakes head at Sony's utter dumbness* Wonder how many hundreds of millions of $$ they wasted developing this thing.

Please Sony, sell off Sony Music. Please. Do yourself and the rest of us a big favor.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:37 AM on July 1, 2004

The best of both worlds.
posted by gwint at 10:41 AM on July 1, 2004

it is USB 2 so it is as fast as Firewire 400.

posted by Space Coyote at 10:46 AM on July 1, 2004

it is USB 2 so it is as fast as Firewire 400.


In practice, particularly on micro-harddrive music players, the compared speeds in my experience are pretty much the same. I am not in a position to weigh in on the difference in the two standards, but these tiny hard drives don't transfer data very fast, and they, not the transfer protocol, are the bottleneck.

And yes, this Sony unit looks pretty, but it's pretty much DOA. Me, I voted for a Rio Karma, which is approximately the same dimensions as the Ipod, but plays Ogg and FLAC as well as MP3 and WMA(ick), and has a handy-dandy docking station. It's not perfect, but it's the best I've seen so far.
posted by deadcowdan at 11:23 AM on July 1, 2004

It's a good time to short Sony stock.
I see write-off!
posted by Dukebloo at 11:38 AM on July 1, 2004

iRiver has some really hot looking stuff coming out in the near future; I've been drooling over the advance publicity.

But then, Archos is supposed to be coming out with a version of their "media jukebox" that finally uses all that excess, Linux-driven processing power to serve as a PDA. So I'm torn...maybe I should just get a Simputer and rubber-band it to an external hard drive and a lead-acid battery pack...
posted by lodurr at 11:48 AM on July 1, 2004

bring on the spectrum mp3 player...with rubber keys.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:20 PM on July 1, 2004

The sooner the two split, the sooner we can get good technology that isn't riddled with DRM.

ralawrence, maybe we can get all the MBAs and lawyers of MeFi together and stage a hostile takover of Sony. We would then split the company up, replace most of the expensive Japanese workers with less expensive american Union workers, and sell off all the nasty DRM-supporting divisions.

who is with us?
posted by Kwantsar at 7:35 PM on July 1, 2004

I have an iRiver iHP and it does everything I want. Namely: no DRM, upgradeable firmware, can record wav and mp3 through an internal mic or an external analog/optical connection. It is USB 2, which is apparently a little slower, but not enough to bother me. It does not require any drivers or software, just a USB capable computer. It works under any operating system (except my friends mac where he had disabled all his USB extensions). Great sound quality, long battery life. Plus, it isnt made by apple, and has the best remote control I have seen on anything.

The real selling point was the recording feature, I have heard a few complaints about it, but I have never had any problem with it personally. I am very surprised that apple, with all their leveraging into the home audio market, never put a recording input beyond that lame microphone option, instead they added stupid things like solitaire. Without that the iPod remains an expensive toy, not a useful portable device for recording insane amount of audio. For me, I can record my DJ sets at clubs or record my friends bands, then open it directly on the player.

Though the firmware updates could be a little more regular, there are a few things that bother people with the playlists and random feature, but I dont use either of those. I mostly transfer large files (saved a bundle and takes less space than burning those CDs)

I would have gone for the archos for the video option, but it was MUCH more expensive, though I understand there is an open firmware movement growing around that, and the players are easiliy hackable. Besides, the last thing I need to do is watch more video. But putting useful things like recording and extensible operating systems is worth supporting more than a brand name or something with catchy advertising that just encourages DRM.
posted by lkc at 8:47 PM on July 1, 2004

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