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Recently, I had someone trying to convince me that the MiniDisc is the latest and greatest in music storage and playback, and the future for music consumers. Having looked into this relatively new technology further, I can now understand their excitement.

The MiniDisc, as its name suggests is a small disc contained within a protective casement measuring 72mm by 68mm and resembling a 3.5 inch computer floppy disk. Unlike a floppy disk, the MiniDisc casement is much stronger and can withstand the sort of harsh treatment that a CD cannot, protecting the inner disc from scratching, bending and exposure. MO technology (Magneto Optical) recording of audio data to a MiniDisc means that no physical contact between the recording/laser heads and the disc itself, hence the claim by Sony of its capability of recording up to one million times. With MO technology the recording method is Non-Linear, meaning the audio data is written to disc in fragments and scattered for efficient retrieval and editing, allowing track location and information to be customized. With the right equipment you can put almost any existing music format onto MiniDisc, including tape, vinyl, CD, MP3, and DAT.

The MiniDisc may be small, but its capacity equals and exceeds that of a CD. With an advanced compression method called ATRAC (Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding), a 1:5 compression ratio is achieved allowing up to 80 minutes of 44.1 kHz audio data to recorded to a single MiniDisc. Another super feature of MiniDisc playback is the incorporation of SRM (Shock Resistant Memory) technology that is actually a buffer acting much the same as the streaming audio buffer in Winamp and RealPlayer. It stores up to 20 seconds (varies unit from unit) of audio data that it will release as audible sounds (your music) should the player be bumped and the reading laser head knocked out of place.

With MiniDisc recording support in stereo systems becoming more common and several models of portable playing units now available across most of the world, the freedom to personalize your music experience is now at your fingertips. Actually, it has been for some time, but you may not have realized..

Recommended links:
MiniDisc T-Station
Planet MiniDisc
MiniDisco
SONY Walkman USA
SONY Walkman Japan
SONY Walkman Europe
SONY Products Australia

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