I purchased a Sony MXD-D2 deck last month (12/98) and I can honestly tell you that it has thoroughly enhanced my appreciation for the minidisc. For those of you who don't know, the MXD-D2 is one of Sony's new decks; in fact, it is part of their "New Concept" machine line.
But why did I buy this particular minidisc deck? The primary reason is that it is the only deck that has both a CD and MD player/recorder built into it. This makes copying CDs digitally extremely simple- With the push of 2 buttons, the deck begins recording. You can, of course, adjust the recording levels, but the deck is by default set to record exactly as input from the source. There are 4 available input sources- CD, Analog, Coaxial, and Optical.
For sound quality, the recordings are better than the ones I made on my R30 primarily because Sony used newer components and home decks generally outperform portables. Performance can not compare to MDS-JA33ES, however, as that ES deck has Sony's 4 setting Variable Coefficient Digital Filter. I have first hand experience with that system as my car CD deck, the Sony CDX-C90, also has this feature. The MXD-D2, however, is significantly less expensive than the MDS-JA33ES, and the MXD-D2 also has the CD deck built in.
The machine works well and is easy to work even if you can not understand Japanese. I am lucky, however, to be able to understand some Japanese as I studied it in school. This made operation as easy as it could be. But for non-Japanese speakers, the deck is laid out entirely in English. (Which is really quite odd considering the deck is for use in Japan, but then again many things are like that.)
But perhaps the one biggest time saver is the fact that I can now title MDs on my computer using the PCLK-PX1 software kit. The deck is unfortunately incompatible with the PCLK-MD1 kit, so be careful that you buy the right package.
Overall, I am extremely happy with this unit. The look is a welcome departure from Sony's past usage of that unsightly black. The ergonomics are about a 9 on a 1-10 scale; some buttons are a little small, but they are not too bad. As for buying one I'm pretty sure that you have to get it from Japan. I paid 52,000 yen, which is approximately $448.28 USD. I'd say that's a real bargain compared to anything that's available in the United States.
January 1999 - Andy Cheng