NetMD Walkman MZ-NF610

Quick look

Recordable minidisk audio player

Price: $230 for the player; $6.99 for a five-pack of 80-minute disks

Phone: 877-865-7669
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Online: www.sony.com

NetMD Walkman MZ-NF610

Henrik G. de Gyor

If you have room for tunes during your daily commute, the NetMD Walkman MZ-NF610 from Sony Electronics Inc. of Park Ridge, N.J., can make for easy listening.

The MD stands for minidisk, which looks like a small compact disk inside a transparent floppy-disk casing. The media used in minidisks are primarily in MP3 format and digitally burned on in a fashion similar to a CD-recordable.

In the case of the NetMD, however, the burn process takes place in the Walkman, so no hardware has to be installed in your computer chassis.

The NetMD connects via USB 2.0 to a PC and requires software to install the device and a separate program to burn WAV, MP3 or Windows Media audio files to a minidisk.

Installation is easy: Simply plug the device into the PC and click on the install option in the setup wizard.

The burning process is more complicated, especially for people not familiar with media file formats or burning.

Browsing the desktop on the SonicStage burning software is counterintuitive, with too many windows and steps. Before burning, you first have to find the data and then create a music drive or virtual jukebox to store it. It would be easier if you could drag and drop files onto the NetMD icon to burn, or if you could skip creating a play list or music drive.

Once you get a handle on burning, however, the rest is simple. Erasing or moving files takes little time, and the unit's long battery life lets you play for up to 48 hours straight.

Another great feature of the NetMD is its durability. It never seems to skip, even when dropped. The minidisk that comes with the unit holds up to 74 minutes of music, and higher-capacity disks can hold up to 80 minutes.

NetMD measures 4 inches by 2 inches by 0.5 inches'half the size and weight of a CD player. The computer used with it should have at least a 400-MHz Pentium III processor and 256M of RAM.

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