Andy Cheng returns from Japan with Sony's MZ-E55 in his pocket
All you need to know about this unit is that it's a smaller, but actually heavier (by 4g) MZ-E50. The size difference, however, was enough for me to buy it. I paid 27,000 yen which is about $232.76 USD. I got mine in Japan, but many companies in the USA are importing these players. As for other nations, I'm pretty sure there is some channel through which you can get one.
Now I know the new Panasonic SJ-MJ70 is lighter and smaller. It also has longer battery life to boot. I do know, however, that Sony uses significantly higher quality components, and that Sony hand makes it's E50 and E55 units. Longer battery life was achieved by Panasonic through use of low power amplifiers and other components on its CD player line. It seems logical that they would carry this over to the MD player to reap the benefits of longer battery life. The sacrifice here would obviously be sound quality and reliability.
For me, I would never buy anything other than Sharp or Sony. Most people, however, are probably not as picky as I am. For them, the Panasonic is great because of its battery life and size/weight advantages. But it's the E55 for me until something new by Sony or Sharp comes out.
January 1999 - Andy Cheng