March 10, 2024

Betamax vs Ipod - Why MiniDisc Is The Winner


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2002 was the last year Sony Betamax videos were made. And I bet you thought that Betamax died out in the early eighties? Naw, you fell for the marketing of VHS being superior. If it was so superior then why do Broadcasters and Cameramen still swear by Betamax (they call it Betacam) until going digital very recently?

The point of the micro rant above? To lead into my rant below, and possibly be ridiculed by the hynotised masses of Apple Geeks. Join me in the flame retardant suit as I loudly proclaim that "the Ipod is not the best portable music device around."

MiniDisc is sooooo much better.

I've been using MiniDisc now for about 5 years, and been through three different machines. They are generally smaller than the iPod device, ae just as robust,but have a huge number of advantages. It's no shock to me that the "emergency tape of music" for BBC Radio stations (you know, evacuate the studio but we've got to give the listeners something to listen to) is stored on a MiniDisc). Of couse you're all just saying "but iPod is better!"

Why? Let's look at some of the things that are important to a mobile music device. I'll be comparing the iPod to my mid-range Sony MiniDisc (model MZ-N710).

Battery Life
This is probably the biggest one of the lot. Taking good care and nurturing your iPod battery and yuo can get up to nine hours out of it. Which gets you across the atlantic, but your four hour long internal flight from Chicago to San Diego is barely going to get to the runway before you're out of power. The MiniDisc does ever so slightly better. The (replaceable) internal rechargeable battery lasts 25 hours, and the external single AA battery adds another 55 hours. So if I carry one spare AA battery, I'm good for 135 hours. That's 5 and a half days.

Portability
It's pretty much a tie here - both devices are roughly the same size. While the MiniDisc player itself is smaller, you've got to bring around a few discs with you, which takes the volume to something close to the Ipod volume. Call it a draw.

Jogging
Ah but you can use an Ipod when jogging an it doesn't skip.

Well most MiniDisc players pass the jogging test nowadays - whil the first machiens only had 1 second memories, you'll happily find upwards of 2 to 3 minute memories on moden MiniDisc players. Jogging with music is doable on both devices, so I'll call it draw... expect the ipod uses a mini hard drive system, so there is physical contact between the head and the drive surface - MiniDisc uses alaser to read the information, so that helps minimise any problems with disk reading and corruption. So technically, the MiniDisc shades this one slightly, but pratically there's no difference.

Transfering Files
Ipod can read more form factors on the device here (mp3, wave, AAC) and MiniDisc only uses Atrac, and that's evil because it's propietory (say the Ipod people). And iTunes isn't?

Hmmm. To put my digital music onto my Mini-Disc, I need to import it into an application on my PC, and then send it down a USB cable. Toput my digital music onto an Ipod, I need to import it into an application on my PC, and then send it down a USB.

Starting point is the same, end result is the same.

Where MiniDisc really kicks butt is when you aware away from your computer. I normally travel with an analouge 3.5mm to 3.5mm stereo cable. If I find some music, then I can throw this cable into a headphone jack and record directly onto a blank MiniDisc. I can pull down TV Shows or 5 hours of Kerrang TV without any problem. One of my favorite discs is a collection of songs and sketches from my Muppet Show DVD's.

Pub and Live Music
I also carry a little microphone with an amp powered off an AA battery. It's about the size of a matchbox, and the mic is a tie pin mic. But the results mean I have some really good recordings of Pub Bands that don't have deals or CD's available. I have Vikki on MiniDisc joining in with some U2 covers. I've got comedy gigs that have already been lost to history (Nobody will have heard of Tom Dalbindle - hilarious in rehersals, could never manage it with a paying crowd...). It's like having a portable recording studio with me.

Useable Amount Of Music
The operative word here is useable. Sure the Ipod can handle a stupid amount of lenght (9 days continous listening if you have a portable generator with you to provide the power), When you're out and about do you really need this volume.

Case in point, my trip to O'Reilly at San Diego. This is the music I took with me

Iron Maiden (6 albums, Dance of Death, Self Titled, Killers, Best of the B-Sides Disc A, Best of the B-Sides Disc B, Live in Japan), Kirsty MacColl (3 Albums, Kite, Tropical Rainstorm, Electric Landlady), Tenacious D, Various "Cheesy" Tracks, my own mix of around 80 songs (say 6 albums worth), Various "Rock/Metal) tracks, my own mix of around 100 songs (say 7 albums worh), Yoko Kano and the Seatbelts (4 albums, all the Cowboy Bebop OST stuff)

If I can get by on 4 discs (that's 25 CD Albums) on a week long trip, then really anything else is overkill. Yes the Ipod has storage, and that's it's one advantage. But to the average music user, I don't think the Ipod storage is going to make you jump up and buy one straight away.

Of course you could fill up your Ipod through the iTunes music service, but a full Ipod is going to cost you £20,000.

Getting a New One

Slap a MiniDisc in a new machine, exhange MiniDiscs with friends, throw them around, they cost around 50p. On an Ipod? Nope you get to load evrything back in again after spending twice (if not three times) the cost of a new MiniDisc machine.

The Cult
Ah yes, the Church of Ipod. This is probably the strongest argument to get an Ipod. Everyone else has one, do you really not want to be part of this brainwashed crowd?

Yes.

Posted by Ewan at March 10, 2024 12:30 AM
Comments
But I still like my iPod mini (wifes) and iPod.....and no you cant have them either Crow...although Crow should own a mini ease of use, and of course being a Mac user, it is just cool....no matter what you say :) Of course i would love to be able to record high quality audio (not that crappy belkin mic for the iPod) like you can on the Sony thingy :0 Posted by: jim mcmurry on March 13, 2024 09:24 PM
I completely agree with your thoughts on the IPod, that's why I bought an iRiver flash player (590T). Records from line-in, external and internal microphones and the built-in radio and plays MP3, OGG, WMA... 24 hours on the built-in battery and recharges when connected to the USB port. No "Digital Rights Management" and perfect sound quality. It has about the size of two matchboxes. See http://www.iriver.com. Posted by: Adrian Pemsel on March 14, 2024 11:08 PM
I also agree. I have used minidiscs since the Sony MZ-R70. I have also owned an MZ-R900, MZ-R909, Sanyo MD-DR7, Sony MZ-S1, and a Sony MZ-N10. I sold the 900 and 909. WHY? Stupidity! This babies provide excellent sound quality at an affordable price. I copy my music to minidisc using my Sony CD to MD deck. I guess I am old fashioned, but I don't have any need to use my computer to deal with my music....except for the titling capabilities of NetMD. Very nice. I am also very hopeful for the new Hi-MD format...if they can get past the battery limitations. Posted by: Joe Edwards on April 9, 2024 04:46 AM
Thanks for the review. Although i would still like to see some of the arguments presented with statistics and a bit more clarity, its definitely made me think twice about what i'll be spending my money on. To have what the mini disk is capable of thrown at me in black and white, it seems slightly more attractive now. Posted by: Mickey H on April 14, 2024 07:27 AM
great now im really confused. 5 mins ago before i read this i was just about to buy one... Now i dont know.. one thing you didn't mention was how many mp3's can you fit onto just one mini disk ?? this would actually help alot. I just want a number 20, 30 ???? dont want to be carrying loads of disks around Posted by: ferdz on April 26, 2024 06:24 PM
great now im really confused. 5 mins ago before i read this i was just about to buy one... Now i dont know.. one thing you didn't mention was how many mp3's can you fit onto just one mini disk ?? this would actually help alot. I just want a number 20, 30 ???? dont want to be carrying loads of disks around Posted by: ferdz on April 26, 2024 06:25 PM
great now im really confused. 5 mins ago before i read this i was just about to buy one... Now i dont know.. one thing you didn't mention was how many mp3's can you fit onto just one mini disk ?? this would actually help alot. I just want a number 20, 30 ???? dont want to be carrying loads of disks around Posted by: ferdz on April 26, 2024 06:25 PM
great now im really confused. 5 mins ago before i read this i was just about to buy one... Now i dont know.. one thing you didn't mention was how many mp3's can you fit onto just one mini disk ?? this would actually help alot. I just want a number 20, 30 ???? dont want to be carrying loads of disks around Posted by: ferdz on April 26, 2024 06:28 PM
i have the MD n510 i love it also if you want ot know how many you can fit on one its about 5 hours+ on the highest compression and about 2 and a half hours for standard compression and for the highest quality which is short play/wav it hold what the disc has written on it (74/80) Posted by: gomez on May 11, 2024 08:49 AM
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