Product Type: Sony portable MD players
Newest Review: ... what was wrong with the recorder that it wouldn't charge. I sent it back to Sony to be repaired under guarantee, they kept it and... more
Fine, if it doesn't break.
Sony MD Walkman MZ-R55
Member Name: neuro
Sony MD Walkman MZ-R55
Date: 24/03/02, updated on 24/03/02 (605 review reads)
Advantages: Small size, when used without battery pack, Great sound quality, Easy to use
Disadvantages: Rubbish battery life, Unreliable, Old
Introductions, introductions... where to start?
::Where this MD Player stands today::
I bought my MZ-R55 in January 2000, for about £180, and as such, I don't think it's on sale any longer anywhere. It actually compares surprisingly favourably to any you might find today, bar a few sticking points, which I'm about to outline...
::First impresions, all those years ago::
When I opened up the box, I remember being surprised at the tiny size of the machine. I had been expecting something closer in size to a cassette walkman. The newest minidisc recorders are really only a very small amount smaller than this one, and wouldn't feel a lot different in your pocket. When I got it home, the sound quality seemed great. People can wrestle all they want over sound quality, but for me, it was indistinguishable from the source CD, and I think most people who know more about sound than me pretty much agree.
Oh dear. The battery life is a problem - starting at four hours from the rechargable internal battery, it would seem to be alright. It kept me going on my commute for a couple of days between charges. The problems only arise later if things start to go wrong. Within about eight months, the internal battery became next to useless, as it would no longer charge in the machine. I know that it was not the battery itself that was the problem, and I would have had no problem replacing it at about £15 every nine months or so had it been. I never found out satisfactorily what was wrong with the recorder that it wouldn't charge. I sent it back to Sony to be repaired under guarantee, they kept it and presumably played with it for a while, before returning it eight weeks later, with a smug little note saying "no fault found". By this time, I was suffering from auditory stimulus deprivation, and the guarantee had almost run out by the time it was returned. Man, was I angry. When I called them up, to fi
nd out about an external battery charger for the battery, they were fairly rude too.
What we all need is cottage industry back. The kind of cottage industry that makes Minidisc players would be good. Big companies don't need to care.
Sony's latest models have many times the battery ife of the R55, using the same battery. But I'm stuck with the screw on external battery pack, which makes it about 50% bigger :(, and that's where I've been left for over a year now.
The remote control on the R55 is pretty darn similar to the ones that Sony is putting on its newest models. In my opinion, the remote is pretty alright to use, and is nicely lit, with good functions, but it's a little big and heavy to clip onto a shirt easily. Also, the twisty thing at the end of it seems a little gimmicky to me. I like it just fine, but I still think buttons would be easier to use than to have to twist the end of it, at least in most situations. I suspect that I'm the only one who thinks this, though, as Sony's newest remotes not only twist to change tracks, but also to change volume (the R55's is just for tracks). I guess that if people hated the twisty thing, they'd have dropped it, but then maybe I'm overestimating the corporation's intelligence.
There have only been two really major features added in the newest generations of Minidisc recorders - MDLP and NetMD. They're not hard to find info on in other places, so I guess a full explanation isn't needed, but for comparison's sake, I'll just outline what they do.
MDLP is just like on a VCR where you have long play. You can choose to cram either twice or four times as much (you choose which) onto each disc. Obviously, this means lower quality audio though. If you use the mode which lets you fit twice as much on a disc, I've heard that the quality is still pretty good. Apparently a lot of people can'
;t tell the difference. The 4x mode, I've heard, is pretty rubbish, but OK for voice recording. The 2x and 4x modes are called LP2 and LP4 respectively, with 1x being SP, or "Short Play". Yes, I know its obvious.
NetMD is a little more complicated, but basically it's a way to send songs from a computer to a minidisc, more quickly than you'd be able to on a non-NetMD equipped recorder.
Overall, I can't recommend the R55, primarily because of the approximately five people I've met who own this model, they've all had the same battery problems as me. Anyway, it can't be as good value now as some of the new models. I think the R700 is £99 in some places now. I've never used it, but it looks like it might be a good alternative.