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Sony introduces MP3 DiscMan/CD-R/DVD-ROM -combo

Written by Lasse Penttinen @ 04 Jan 2003 12:37 User comments (14)

Sony has announced a very innovative portable combo device.The beauty of the concept is that the same device provides both recording and playback.
December 2002 | Sony's new MPD-AP20U looks a lot like a DiscMan, and quite a bit like some recent laptop-market CD recorders, but its powers transcend such one-trick ponies. Combining CD recording and DVD-Video playback as a portable computer drive and—after a quick costume change in any handy phone booth—battery-powered MP3/Audio CD playback as a standalone CD player, this dual-identity drive "blurs the line between computer peripherals and CE devices," according to Sony IT Products marketing manager Robert DeMoulin.

The drive also illustrates Sony's current CD-R strategy, in that it stays out of the speed race (eschewing showy 48X specs for a comparably modest 24X), and emphasizes other value-adding attributes like portability, a Memory Stick slot, DVD-ROM playback, and standalone use as CD-Audio player with trendy MP3 capability. The drive also boasts 10X CD-RW recording, 24X CD read speed, 8X DVD-ROM reading, and an 8MB buffer to support data transfer in the most perilous of recording conditions. (Sony's BurnProof-equivalent buffer underrun-protection technology, Power-Burn, helps in this respect as well.) The Memory Stick slot (now a staple of Sony CD and DVD recorders) enables users to transfer content to CD-R from digital cameras or other devices that support the portable storage format, and also allows them to play back MP3 files stored on Memory Stick when the drive is in standalone mode.

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14 user comments

15.1.2003 2:22

"DVD-Rom playback" - "DVD-Rom reading". What does that mean? It better mean music. Does it mean that we can *finally* burn mp3 tracks to a DVD? (I don't mean, just for backup or archiving purposes, but for *playback* purposes). That is what is needed. That is what has _always_ been needed. (That's damned-well what standalone dvd players need too, but that's another matter). A dvd recorded with mp3s in separate folders, constitutes a 'DVD-Rom'. Will this unit play them back? 1000 mp3s burned to a single dvd will make the alternative prospect of writing them to Sony's memory sticks a very expensive and dumb option. Agreed? -- Mike --

25.1.2003 3:19

"Mp3 playback from DVD" that is the only reason what makes me buy MPD-AP20U, if thats possible. A memorystick.... argh.. nooo, completely useless thingy. If there is 512mb or 1024mb sticks that would be something, but the price will be high anyway so - it's useless. and: [Wake up sony! and make MD->PC transferring possible via USB!]

35.1.2003 4:45

From what I remember way back, there use to be a Mini Disc drive for the PC, but it didn't become popular do to a 500ms seek time. I'd say that would be able to rip the Mini Disc tracks on to the PC. The audio is either Atrac-2 or Atrac-3 depending on the Mini Disc unit and if long-play is selected.

45.1.2003 7:06

I've been using this unit for about a month now, and the good news is that you can indeed use DVD-RW disks for your MP3s! Using (rather large but very high quality) Variable Bit-Rate MP3s, I get anywhere from 40 to 60 CDs on a single DVD. If you are happy with Fixed Bit-Rate MP3s of, say, 128kbs, you will fit ~3 times that many CDs on a single DVD-RW. Now, some gotchas! DVD-R disks with MP3 content on them don't play well on my unit. I use a Pioneer DVR-104 DVD recorder with a VIAO computer, and the software that came with the Sony player to make data DVDs that contain the MP3 files. With this set up, DVD-RWs work fine, but DVD-Rs are somewhat flakey. (These same DVD-Rs don't work well in any computer I have available except my daughter's generic PC!) BTW - I have tried to play my MP3 DVDs in dozens of stand-alone DVD players (at Best Buy, etc.) and found only a couple of them that will playback MP3 on DVDs, but I am convinced that there will be more in the future. I hope Sony comes out with a home DVD changer that will support the MP3 DVDs. Putting that player in random mode would turn your entire CD collection into a fantastic jukebox. In the meantime, Sony's new MPD-AP20U does the same thing, in a portable, walkman-sized unit for a single disk at a time!

55.1.2003 9:17

Thank you for that first-look, hands-on update, waveroutr!!! THAT is the news we are looking for! And damn, it's about time too, that some (any) hardware manufacturer finally got the ball rolling on this score! It's the first I've heard too, that any standalone dvd player supports dvd-mp3 playback. In my experience, I am aware of NO model which does so, although it would be a 'snap' for hardware manufacturers to incorporate this feature. And Tommi, I agree with you -- I too have a spare USB port that would go along nicely with this Sony unit. GOOD news all around!! -- Klingy --

65.1.2003 16:29

If you are sufficiently determined, you *can* find stand alone DVD players that will play MP3 files from DVD-ROM. You must first create MP3 DVD-ROMS on both DVD-R and DVD-RW. Then go to Best Buy, Circuit City, Tweeter, etc. and simply try out every DVD player on display. These players needn't be connected to any other equipment if they have a display (the cheapest ones don't), but bring a set of headphones. Be advised that even those that will play your DVD-ROM will not necessarily support a directory long enough to accomodate all the titles you can store on a DVD. It is best to take along multiple DVDs. One with many folders, one with just a few folders, and one with songs outside of a folder structure. One interesting thing I found is that the few DVD players that would play MP3s from DVD-ROM would also support playlists created by Windows Media Player. The Sony MPD-AP20U also supports multiple play lists, so be sure to include your favorite compilations in that file format when you create your DVD-ROMs!

75.1.2003 21:08

Is it possible to save a memory stick contents to a CD-R or CD-RW when using the Sony MPD-AP20U as a stand-alone unit? This would be useful when taking long trips with a Sony digital camera and not taking the laptop as well. As soon as a memory stick is full, it can be safely stored in a CD-R, and then reused for other photographs. Thanks, Sergio

86.1.2003 6:14

sliberman: That is a great idea, but the MPD-AP20U won't write to CD-R or CD-RW in stand-alone mode. Actually, you make a great case for Sony Mavica digital camera's with writable CD as the storage medium.

96.1.2003 7:47

(Wow). If some dvd standalone units *will* play back mp3 data discs on dvd media, they (the manufacturers) should be *shouting* about it! It's awful that we'd have to take recorded dvds along with us and try out every player in the store (with the potential prospect of not finding a single compatible player either). :( Maybe the dvd player manufacturers don't advertise this capability too loudly if it *is* supported, because mp3-dvd playback isn't, strictly-speaking, an authorized dvd-compliant format. (?? - just guessing). And yes, one has to be careful how many individual folders he creates to store the mp3s - even on cd-rs -- there is a finite limit for each player). Thanks, waveroutr. -- Mike --

106.1.2003 11:01

This news about the standalone portable disc drive is one the best things I could hear!!! I can't wait to buy one of these units and hopefully they will offer several units in the near future. Does anyone know the website I can go to to view this item?? Also, is anyone aware of wether the unit will be menu driven or will it be controlled by simple buttons?? Dang I can't wait to get one of these. Just think, literally a week's worth of music on one single disc!!! I will defenitely be looking for this to hit store shelves.


117.1.2003 11:17

Im getting a new sony camcorder that uses mini dvd disk's , neat huh.


1213.1.2003 13:30
1313.1.2003 17:31

You might also find this helpful. It's the complete user's manual.

1415.2.2003 18:29

waveroutr I have purchased a Sony MPD-AP20U to mainly play a DVD's that i have burned with MP3's I am using a Sony 590G to burn the DVD's. i knoticed the Same that DVD-R's do not work that well. i am now using your suggestion of DVD-RW's which seam to be working for the past 1/2 hour. Any other good suggestions??? Thank.

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