Review of the Sharp MD-MS722 (for 702 owners)

Jake Eu ([email protected])
4 Nov 1998

After struggling with a 702 that had the common UTOC error problem, I decided to get a 722 from Japan. For those of you too lazy to read the rest of this article:

The 722 is a good machine but is really only a marginal upgrade of the 702. So if you're in the market for a new recorder or your 702 has the UTOC problem then the 722 is a good choice, otherwise don't bother.

My first impression of the 722 was that it is ugly. The main unit, remote and the rainbow coloured handstrap all seem to have spent a lot less time in the design department than the 702. However, with the exception of the handstrap the 722's design does grow on you with its 'Mecha' inspiration (if you don't know what I'm talking about, type ROBOTECH into any www search engine). Also, the handstrap can be easily remedied with a black permanent marker. On the subject of the 722's appearance, despite the propaganda, the 722 is NOT smaller than the 702. This is because the face plate of the 722 sticks out a lot further than the 702 and thus cancels out the fact that the battery bulge has gone from the back.

After getting over the unit's ugliness, obviously the next thing I did was stick in one of my favourite MDs and crank up the volume. The sound difference between the 702 and 722 is phenomenal, but can be easily explained. All the difference in the 722's sound comes from a much stronger bass while the top and middle ends sound the same. The major reason for the improved bass is the new standard earphones that Sharp supplies with the unit whilst the other reason is that Sharp has increased the bass settings in the unit's EPROM. This can be done by 702 owners through the service mode but I wouldn't recommend it with the 702's standard earphones.

After a bit of use I realized that the 722 is almost exactly the same as the 702. With the exception of the new jog-ring, all the controls on the unit are the same but just in different locations. I'm sure that the majority of the 722's internal components are the same as the 702's. Sharp claims that the new layout of the 722's controls makes it easier to use than the 702 and easier to title MDs with. My opinion is that the new unit is no easier to use and the jog-ring is not particularly useful except for selecting tracks. My tip is to actually use the remote control to title MDs, which can be done with only one hand.

Even though the new remote control makes titling MDs easier and features a clock, I don't think it is really a great improvement over the old one. First of all it is quite easy to accidentally press more than one button when you're on the move and secondly, the new clock is completely built into the remote. Therefore it can't be used to control any real functions such as playing at a set time or time stamping a recording. The good point about the clock being separate to the unit is that it allows 702 users to upgrade to the new remote if they REALLY want a clock or (more likely) break their old remote.

In addition to the remote, 702 users can also upgrade to the 722's longer life battery (600mAh vs 800mAh) which can be used and recharged in the 702. For those who are interested, this is because most Li-ion batteries have built-in control circuits. With the 702 and old 600mAh battery I usually had to change the battery during a full work day but 722's battery will usually last until the end of the day.

Another significant improvement over the 702 is that the 722 has a lot longer shock protection and will happily play in my backpack during downhill rides on my mountainbike.

The last two (very small) differences from the 702 are that the 722 will TOC read a bit faster when you put in a disc and you can set the EL light to stay on when the unit is attached to the charger. Having faster TOC reading is quite useful for when you hear a good song on the radio that you want to record but being able to set the EL light permanently on does give me some concerns about it burning out.

In summary the 722 is simply a 702 with a new coat and a few improved features. Anyone who has a relatively recent portable shouldn't consider upgrading but for anyone who is looking to get a new portable or has a 702 with the UTOC problem then the 722 is well worth considering. I would however strongly advise 702 owners to upgrade to the new battery (after all, you'll always need a spare battery).


I asked Jake how he knew the two machines were so similar, and he replied: In writing the article I sat down with both machines for about two hours, having a good play around with them. I also opened up the 722 and a lot of the internals looked very similar to the 702's (I've opened up the 702 numerous times in an attempt to fix the UTOC problem). Furthermore, features that existed on the 702 but are undocumeted on the 722 (such as the mode and bass buttons doubling as insert and delete buttons) still work on the 722. But the best proof I have is that when you enter the test mode the EEPROM version number is 702AfJ, which is the same as the 702. Furthermore most of the EEPROM settings are the same.

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