From: Pai Chou
Subject: Sony MD Data MDH-10

On Fri, 27 Oct 1995, Klaus Pellinka wrote:

> Has anyone out there Sony's mdh-something recorder/player/data munger
> connected to his pc or mac? Insert a music md and have a look to the 
> file structure. And please inform the rest of the world how mds store
> music, under which file format. Seems to be an essential.
> Klaus

I have one (MDH-10) for my Mac. It has a switch between Audio MD and Data MD. They use different types of MDs. The back of a data MD has a sliding metal door that extends 2/3's of the way and covers the hole in the middle. Audio MD's have the hole exposed. Audio MDs recognize data MDs as 74-minute MDs with two tracks; but if you try to play data as audio then no sound comes out and the counter does not advance. Audio MDs show up as 1K in disc, 0K available.

As a data drive, it feels like a single-speed CDROM (even sounds like one when it seeks). It comes with drivers for both Mac (needs system 7.1 or later) and PC. It uses a SCSI2 connector, which is a lot skinnier than the fat SCSI1. You have to initialize the data MDs before you can use them. The manual/readme says the "Quick format" (which just sets up the directories but does no verification) is good enough. However, a friend of mine who borrowed my drive for backup reported file corruption. I am not sure if it was the compression/archive software or the data MD itself. I now always do the "Safe format" which does verification, though it takes 35 minutes to do this!

I am a little worried about the future of MD Data. Even though i have seen pictures of laptop Mac's and PC's equipped with removable MD drives, they seem slow and expensive (US$600) compared to Zip drives ($200) though a lot more compact. I have only been able to get the drive and blank discs from mail-order. I have only seen 1 size (140MB) and costs around $25 each. Zip disks are around $15 or cheaper for 100MB, 1-2 Mb/s transfer rate, and my local computer store carries them. You can't use the MD drive to boot up your computer.

As an audio MD drive, it is play only. Has a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery and an external 4AA pack. all control functions and volume are on a small wired "remote" on the headphones cord. There is a DOS command for sending the audio-play command but they have not implemented it for the Mac. It has analog lineout but no digital. The casing feels pretty solid, metal rather than plastic.

Pai Chou
Dept. of Computer Science & Engineering      Email:  [email protected]
University of Washington, Seattle, WA  

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