Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 4th Feb 2013 12:10 UTC
Multimedia, AV "Sony has announced it is to deliver its last MiniDisc stereo next month. It marks an end to the firm's support for the system which it launched in 1992. The format only ever had limited success outside of Japan and was ultimately doomed by the rise of recordable CDs and MP3 players." My format of choice for personal audio up until a few years ago, when the rest of the world had already long moved on to MP3. Nothing beats the satisfying sound of closing a portable MiniDisc player/recorder with a disc in it.
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Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Mon 4th Feb 2013 12:57 UTC
MOS6510
Member since:
2011-05-12

I preferred the closing sound of a Walkman. Until last year I put some music on cassette to play in a Walkman, finding out how totally inconvenient this was.

IIRC Sony recently also halted production of 3.5" floppies, the Walkman, Playstation 2 and who else knows what more.

I guess we should be happy it lasted this long.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by MOS6510
by kwan_e on Mon 4th Feb 2013 13:09 UTC in reply to "Comment by MOS6510"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

IIRC Sony recently also halted ... who else knows what more.


They halted making security on the Playstation Network for a while.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by MOS6510
by BallmerKnowsBest on Mon 4th Feb 2013 16:12 UTC in reply to "Comment by MOS6510"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

IIRC Sony recently also halted production of 3.5" floppies, the Walkman, Playstation 2 and who else knows what more.

I guess we should be happy it lasted this long.


They probably reallocated those resource to the critical PS3 stride-hitting division:

http://insertcredit.com/2011/06/20/the-playstation-3-is-hitting-all...

Reply Score: 2

You're only half right
by darknexus on Mon 4th Feb 2013 13:20 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

The format only ever had limited success outside of Japan and was ultimately doomed by the rise of recordable CDs and MP3 players.

Actually, I'd say that being replaced by these devices was more a consequence of what killed the Minidisc than what actually killed it. As usual with Sony, what killed the format was their unwillingness to either license it reasonably or open it up for third party players. They wanted to be the only ones who produced it, and they were… but not in the way they had hoped. It's an all too common problem with Sony.
Having said that, I think the convenience of digital media would have ended up replacing MD in the end anyway. Still, Sony's stubbornness made this happen all that much more quickly.

Reply Score: 3

RE: You're only half right
by Kochise on Mon 4th Feb 2013 15:47 UTC in reply to "You're only half right"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

It's Sony and Fujitsu who invented the magneto-optical system. First ever used was the 21 MB floptical in the Next, then the 128 MB, 230 MB, 540 MB, 640 MB, 1.3 GB and 2.3 GB in 3"1/2 format, and some similar sized 5"1/4 disc with 5.2 and 9.1 GB, before UDO.

I still use nowadays the 1.3 GB 3"1/5 and the 9.1 GB, pretty efficient yet very slow at writing. The later fitted in a HP SureStore 20 XT magneto-optical SCSI juke box ;)

Kochise

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: You're only half right
by judgen on Tue 5th Feb 2013 13:45 UTC in reply to "RE: You're only half right"
judgen Member since:
2006-07-12

The recordable optical disk was invented by David Gregg whos patents was later owned by MCA. And i remember using LD (LaserDisk) disks in the 70's at home, long before NEXT even existed. And if you mean the CD, then also no. It was developed by Phillips (and later Sony in conjunction). The GD-Rom was developed by Yamaha. And the Phase change ones used in many home systems was developed by Panasonic. The ones used in NEXT systems was magnetodisks and more of an optical floppy relying on the Magneto-optic Kerr effect.
Edit: First sentence made no sense so i removed it.

Edited 2013-02-05 13:46 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: You're only half right
by Kochise on Wed 6th Feb 2013 08:36 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: You're only half right"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Magneto-optical, read by laser (phase change due to magnetic effect), written by laser (heated to curie point) and magnetic head (polarity change).

Plasmon also made some MO devices. Iomega tried to enter le market (I have some 1 GB MO disks), Sony, Verbatim, etc...

Kochise

Reply Score: 2

RE: You're only half right
by broken_symlink on Mon 4th Feb 2013 17:06 UTC in reply to "You're only half right"
broken_symlink Member since:
2005-07-06

Sony weren't the only ones making players. Sharp, JVC, Pioneer, and Panasonic also made players. According to the article, Onkyo will continue producing players as well.

Reply Score: 3

RE: You're only half right
by tylerdurden on Mon 4th Feb 2013 19:11 UTC in reply to "You're only half right"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

The Minidisc, technically, counts as digital media.

Reply Score: 3

RE: You're only half right
by zima on Mon 11th Feb 2013 22:20 UTC in reply to "You're only half right"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The evidence does not support your assertion...

1. As broken_symlink points out, there were plenty enough of 3rd party MD gear manufacturers. Sony was simply most visible to you, and generally throughout the world, since they were actively promoting MD gear even in areas where it didn't took off.

2. (and perhaps more importantly) The only place where MD was semi-popular, Japan, was also at the forefront of adopting flash-based music listening devices...

...and obsoleting MD in the process. MD simply had a very short window of opportunity (made worse by how people weren't too keen to adopt yet another format right after CD)


As usual with Sony, people bash them also when it's not justified.

Reply Score: 2

PSP & my history with MD
by Chrispynutt on Mon 4th Feb 2013 13:23 UTC
Chrispynutt
Member since:
2012-03-14

Don't worry you can still get that sounds from the PSP.

Unfortunately Sony's drivers are 32-bit only. So HI-MD and NetMD won't work on my recent build.

I can remember my stupidly long commute to my first career job and a shonky .com bubble company (2000). It was made bare-able thanks to mini disc. I still have the Denon bookshelf hifi, I used a JVC player with a gum stick battery (seriously why didn't these take off?). I would tote around 8 MDs in a case, plus a spare battery. However I would get over 24 hours out of a charge, so really it was the hours on the MDs that mattered.

I shifted to Sony NetMD around 2002 doubling the play time with LP2. Sonic Stage was awfully slow, but what do you expect if you cross iTunes with Flash. I clung onto MD, as I loved the different disc designs and swung on to HI-MD which doubled the size of my old discs 150mb to 300mb and allowed for 1GB HI-MDs.

I eventually got a cheap and cheerful 20GB MP3 player and the MDs stayed in a drawer.

Things I still wish we hadn't thrown out with the MD bath water:

- Good inline remotes with displays and intuitive controls. Especially like the Sony RM-MC10L. So handy in the Scottish climate, where exterior tactile controls keep you dry and warm.
- Gum stick batteries, electronics are usually rectangular, why do we use round or a random selection of non-standard batteries?
- Combined Lossy & Lossless files, no need to re-encode for lossy on the go, the application just copies the lossy part over.

Reply Score: 4

RE: PSP & my history with MD
by toast88 on Mon 4th Feb 2013 14:41 UTC in reply to "PSP & my history with MD"
toast88 Member since:
2009-09-23

Don't worry you can still get that sounds from the PSP.


Well, yes, some PSP games actually use ATRAC3+ for audio encoding. That's why the PPSSPP developers are using the ATRAC3+ code which is due in ffmpeg soon (I know the guy who worked on it).

Unfortunately Sony's drivers are 32-bit only. So HI-MD and NetMD won't work on my recent build.


Or you could just resort to the free and open source MiniDisc implementation that we have created:

https://wiki.physik.fu-berlin.de/linux-minidisc

But there actually also 64-Bit NetMD drivers available:

http://archivisiondirectory.blogspot.de/2010/10/64-bit-driver-for-s...

But I'd still recommend using our software as it supports non-Windows systems as well. For playback, please resort to VLC/ffmpeg which currently support ATRAC-1 and ATRAC-3. ATRAC-3+ support (the ATRAC version used by HiMD devices) is currently work-in-progress and to be expected in summer 2013. The code is complete, it just needs to get merged.

I shifted to Sony NetMD around 2002 doubling the play time with LP2. Sonic Stage was awfully slow, but what do you expect if you cross iTunes with Flash.


I am pretty sure that SonicStage doesn't contain any Flash code. It does, however, contain a virtual machine which runs the whole OpenMG DRM stack which one of my friends reverse-engineered.

Cheers,

Adrian

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: PSP & my history with MD
by Chrispynutt on Mon 4th Feb 2013 17:34 UTC in reply to "RE: PSP & my history with MD"
Chrispynutt Member since:
2012-03-14

I thought Flash was used for the crazy interface, or was that shockwave.

Thanks for the info though. My mate had an internal MD drive he wanted to send me, he recovered it from a Vaio a number of years back.

Edited 2013-02-04 17:38 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Comment by some1
by some1 on Mon 4th Feb 2013 13:30 UTC
some1
Member since:
2010-10-05

Nothing beats the satisfying sound of closing a portable MiniDisc player/recorder with a disc in it.

Not even holding a vinyl record in your hands and feeling the smell of fresh vinyl?

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by some1
by Chrispynutt on Mon 4th Feb 2013 13:44 UTC in reply to "Comment by some1"
Chrispynutt Member since:
2012-03-14

<sarc>Be on your way Grandad ;) </sarc>

No to be honest, you had to be in your youth at that time and place. For me the Commodore Amiga A1200, Sega Dreamcast and Mini Disc occupy that niche. I am sure for someone older or just with a different background that mix would be different.

I never grew up with Nintendo, records or the Apple 2. They were from a different place and time.

Reply Score: 2

My MD recorder
by darknexus on Mon 4th Feb 2013 13:52 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

I owned a Sony MZ-B100 MD recorder in 2004. It didn't have any sort of computer connection, and wasn't really designed to be used as a portable player as much as it was a recorder. Still, that thing was rugged. It lasted a good six years without showing a single fault (how many devices can you say that about these days?), had three recording level compressions as well as uncompressed, TOSlink input, and ran for 40 hours on a single AA battery. As inconvenient as MDs could sometimes be, I wish we still had a device that could run for that long on a common, replaceable, AA battery and were that durable.

Reply Score: 2

sony...
by smashIt on Mon 4th Feb 2013 13:53 UTC
smashIt
Member since:
2005-07-06

md, umd, ms, sacd, beta, bluray
is there any format sony didn't fail with?

Reply Score: 2

RE: sony...
by 0brad0 on Mon 4th Feb 2013 14:07 UTC in reply to "sony..."
0brad0 Member since:
2007-05-05

md, umd, ms, sacd, beta, bluray
is there any format sony didn't fail with?


Blu-ray isn't in the same category as the rest and is quite successful.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: sony...
by smashIt on Mon 4th Feb 2013 14:35 UTC in reply to "RE: sony..."
smashIt Member since:
2005-07-06

and is quite successful.


yes, it's not as spectacular a failure as the other formats, but successful is something different

just to break down the numbers:
-BR is 7 years old, and for 5 years it's the only HD disc-format
-it has better image- and sound-quality than the dvd
-it's more expensive to produce (both content and manufacturing-wise)
-and even though they are sold at the same price-level as DVDs, they only account for 20-25% of all sales

that's a failure all around

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: sony...
by ssokolow on Mon 4th Feb 2013 16:10 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: sony..."
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

yes, it's not as spectacular a failure as the other formats, but successful is something different

just to break down the numbers:
-BR is 7 years old, and for 5 years it's the only HD disc-format
-it has better image- and sound-quality than the dvd
-it's more expensive to produce (both content and manufacturing-wise)
-and even though they are sold at the same price-level as DVDs, they only account for 20-25% of all sales

that's a failure all around


Depends. Do you just mean as a movie format? ...because, among other reasons, I don't trust them to rip to WebM on the first try using only open-source software. With DVDs, that's not a problem.

Also, my brothers are the only people in the house with computer new enough to come with BluRay drives (which they don't use for BluRay either). You can even find DVD-ROM drives in the dumpster these days.

However, for non-movie use, I'll probably pick up a BluRay burner as soon as my current DVD+R drive wears out. BluRay media does seem to have stablized at around 50% of the per-gigabyte cost of DVD+Rs.

(I just need to spend some time googling on what the most reliable brands are)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: sony...
by wonea on Mon 4th Feb 2013 16:46 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: sony..."
wonea Member since:
2005-10-28

Bluray might not be as successful as DVD, but it's possibly your last chance to actually own a movie, and streaming doesn't count.

So let us enjoy the format, happy in the fact we don't have to pay a monthly streaming contract so we can watch our preferred movies.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: sony...
by smashIt on Mon 4th Feb 2013 17:09 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: sony..."
smashIt Member since:
2005-07-06

but it's possibly your last chance to actually own a movie


thats one of the reasons why I buy blurays ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: sony...
by darknexus on Wed 6th Feb 2013 03:54 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: sony..."
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Bluray might not be as successful as DVD, but it's possibly your last chance to actually own a movie, and streaming doesn't count.

Ah, if only that were true. Have you checked into Blu-Ray's drm capabilities lately? They can lock you out of your own physical media, unless you rip the disk to an alternate format first. And of course, in certain countries, doing this is illegal even though the studios locking you out of your own purchases is not.

So let us enjoy the format, happy in the fact we don't have to pay a monthly streaming contract so we can watch our preferred movies.

Are you kidding? Do you know how many people pay extortion prices for cable TV (we're talking $70-$90 USD per month in the US)? Do you think those people are going to even raise an eyebrow over a streaming cost? People don't think and, if streaming is cheaper than Blu-Ray (which, in the US at least, it most definitely is with Netflix and other services like it) then they'll go for that. Why buy one Blu-Ray movie for $20-$30 USD when you can pay $8/month and watch as many movies as you want? I don't agree with it personally, but if you look at the market, that's where we're going and, much as I don't like the idea that everything's streamed, I like the idea that I can be locked out of my own physical disks even less.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: sony...
by ilovebeer on Mon 4th Feb 2013 17:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: sony..."
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

-it's more expensive to produce (both content and manufacturing-wise)

Neither of these claims is true. I take it you didn't actually do any research before posting them.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: sony...
by smashIt on Mon 4th Feb 2013 17:58 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: sony..."
smashIt Member since:
2005-07-06

Neither of these claims is true. I take it you didn't actually do any research before posting them.


thats funny
i thought that with a dvd <40c and a BR ~1€ the BR could savely be called more expensive
but my math could be off ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: sony...
by ilovebeer on Mon 4th Feb 2013 18:45 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: sony..."
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

There are licensing fees associated with bluray that don't need to be paid with dvd but as far as manufacturing goes, material & duplication cost is practically identical. If you're paying more for bluray, you need to shop around for a better price.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: sony...
by Chrispynutt on Mon 4th Feb 2013 17:45 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: sony..."
Chrispynutt Member since:
2012-03-14

Hmm, they sell blu ray players and discs in my local super market. And this is not a city store by any means.

I think there is a lot more range than just binary fail and success.

MD was successful in some markets, not all. Beta lived on as a production format. Blu Ray is allegedly the format the new consoles from Microsoft and Sony will use.

So yeah DVD and CD were far bigger success. Complete barn stormers. But we are not talking about HD-DVD, digital tape, Video 2000 style failures either.

What I would agree with is that Sony's strangle hold on a format directly affects the success for the format. However a good format is still a good format for all that.

However niche success is quite different from complete flop.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: sony...
by WorknMan on Mon 4th Feb 2013 22:37 UTC in reply to "RE: sony..."
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Blu-ray isn't in the same category as the rest and is quite successful


It is only as successful as it is because a lot of us are reluctantly downgrading to blu-ray from DVD, as a result of movie studios only putting out special features and box sets for certain movies in the BR format.

Otherwise, I could live without the higher prices, DRM, mandatory firmware updates, unskippable previews, spotty auto-resume support, etc.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: sony...
by 0brad0 on Tue 5th Feb 2013 09:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: sony..."
0brad0 Member since:
2007-05-05


It is only as successful as it is because a lot of us are reluctantly downgrading to blu-ray from DVD, as a result of movie studios only putting out special features and box sets for certain movies in the BR format.

Otherwise, I could live without the higher prices, DRM, mandatory firmware updates, unskippable previews, spotty auto-resume support, etc.


I couldn't care less about DVDs. SD content. Yuck. Good riddance. But I do agree about the rest.

Reply Score: 2

RE: sony...
by zima on Mon 11th Feb 2013 23:55 UTC in reply to "sony..."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Sony simply does a lot, so they obviously also have a rather large number of ~failures. And as for successes - you don't remember them since they become generic, hence naturally not associated exclusively with Sony any more; that's what being a success means for formats.

the 3.5-inch floppy, CD, S/PDIF (what do you think "S" stands for?), Betacam, Video8, miniDV, DVD ...all rather successful (yes, half of them in cooperation with other companies; but so is your list)

Reply Score: 2

rklrkl
Member since:
2005-07-06

I always thought that Sony should have mass produced (or at least licensed) a PC drive that could act as a replacement for the dying floppy disk. We had various rather poor attempts at higher capacity removable media (e.g. Iomega's bleeding awful Zip drives and the equally bad SyQuest efforts) instead.

MiniDisc definitely had a window of several years to establish itself as a rewritable, random access removable media, but they never bothered to enter the PC drive market (maybe scared it would take only days to someone to release a bit-perfect Minidisc copying program?).

It wasn't until external USB drives and sticks became popular that the window of opportunity closed. I think the MiniDisc was a good format for its time, let down by Sony's narrow licensing (including a pointless new compression format for audio) and their lack of vision to expand the market beyond audio recording/playback.

Reply Score: 2

Al Dente Member since:
2006-09-12

Yes, the common 1.2 and 1.44 MB floppies were hopelessly too small in the early 90's. Remember back then CDROM drives were slow and expensive and the first CD burners were over $1,000. I can remember installing Linux from 30 floppies and I even installed Windows NT 3.1 from floppies but this was so painful that I've disassociated it. I would have loved a 140 MB MiniDisk drive on my PC. The only thing I used MiniDiscs for was bootlegging concerts.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Wafflez
by Wafflez on Mon 4th Feb 2013 16:02 UTC
Wafflez
Member since:
2011-06-26

I remember in the early teen days if I had to write photos into a cd for my parents, I always bought mini-CDs.

Using them made me feel bad ass.

Reply Score: 1

DRM
by mdoverkil on Mon 4th Feb 2013 16:16 UTC
mdoverkil
Member since:
2005-09-30

In Japan MiniDisc was DRM free, guess who you can thank for the DRM laden MD in the U.S., which also delayed the launch

Reply Score: 1

RE: DRM
by toast88 on Mon 4th Feb 2013 17:48 UTC in reply to "DRM"
toast88 Member since:
2009-09-23

In Japan MiniDisc was DRM free, guess who you can thank for the DRM laden MD in the U.S., which also delayed the launch


What do you mean? NetMD and HiMD were all the same all over the world, using the same DRM mechanisms.

Or are you referring to pre-recorded media?

Adrian

Reply Score: 2

No nostalgia for MD here...
by Dave_K on Mon 4th Feb 2013 16:42 UTC
Dave_K
Member since:
2005-11-16

I used NetMD for a while, but switching to an MP3 player was an upgrade in almost every way: hardware size, capacity, file format support, user interface, convenience, reliability, etc.

Just being able to drag and drop files to my player, rather than recording in real time, or using Sony's utterly dire software, made a huge difference.

The hassle of actually getting music onto the player was made worse by the poor reliability of the fragile MD media. For me a minidisc's average life expectancy was at most a month or two of normal use. Dust would get inside and they'd start skipping, or the sliding cover would become warped and jam in the player. That happened even if I didn't drop the damn things trying to change the disc while on the move.

They were a dead end technology, especially for portable use. I'm glad to see the back of them.

Reply Score: 3

I'll miss you, old friend...
by Neolander on Mon 4th Feb 2013 19:46 UTC
Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

Think about it: you want to record audio on the move, such as conversations or band rehearsals. You would like to do so in relatively high quality, similar to that of a CD for an untrained ear. You do not want to deal with a large and complex device like a laptop or tablet, and you would like to get several hours of battery life while recording audio. Is there a modern device, sold for less than €250 (mic price and storage media not included), that would fit the bill ?

That's what MDs were best at, in my opinion. Infinitely better recording than tapes, and much more reliable than the few DAPs from Cowon and Archos that would feature some mic/line input. Basically the DAT of the people.

For this reason, and also because magneto-optical drives were awesome, I'll always miss my old MD players. Shame on Sony and Sharp for crippling them with shitty DRM and impossibly buggy data transfer software.

Edited 2013-02-04 20:02 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: I'll miss you, old friend...
by Kochise on Wed 6th Feb 2013 08:41 UTC in reply to "I'll miss you, old friend..."
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

They tried to use it as floppy disc, because it would fit something about 178 MB. But Sony said that the system used to store the informations was lossy, unlike the CD where you have 2.3 KB sectors + CRC, the disks were not designed to be formated as a data medium.

I would have bought that instead of a Iomega Zip drive, that's why I bought a Fujitsu 1.3 GB MO drive instead of a Iomega Jaz.

Kochise

Reply Score: 2