I fully support this petition. While Sony deserves much praise as a pioneer of the amazingly useful format that is Minidisc, it is frustrating to thousands of consumers that they are not now producing products that make full use of its potential.
Adding digital uploads to NetMD recorders is vital. There are hundreds of perfectly legitimate uses for this feature in many market sectors, as detailed in many of the signatures of this petition. Not enabling this feature on the grounds that it would encourage piracy is both not realistic, given the copy-protection already present in Minidisc that flags recordings made through the digital input, and hypocritical, given that Sony's MP3 CD players, the D-CJ500 and D-CJ506CK, will do far more to encourage people to make compilations of and spread illegally-acquired music.
Consumers are crying out for the ability to transfer digital recordings of their band, lecture, interview, phone calls, etc., onto their computers for ease of editing and archiving. There is no doubt that a technology will soon be available to service this need. If it is not implemented in Minidisc, then something like on-the-fly MP3 encoding will do it. As soon as devices like this start to appear, they will be certain to establish themselves very quickly, given the desire for such functionality expressed by the signatories to this petition, among others. While consumers may be very fond of Minidisc for many reasons, if another technology allows them to do something they have a strong desire to do, they will certainly switch, and not hang around in the hope that Minidisc will catch up at some point in the future. Minidisc will then be in the position of playing catch-up, which is a very difficult thing to do in this consumer electronics market. Unless Sony wants to risk seeing the Minidisc format die off altogether, they need to let it take the lead and provide a funtionality that is not already commonplace in the market.
The Minidisc medium is perhaps the best all-around data-storage medium on the consumer electronics market today. It is much more robust than CD, easily portable, cheap, and has a decent capacity (more than the 128MB that is considered good for solid-state MP3 portables nowadays). The devices on offer must quickly take the next step to make the most of these characteristics before another technology or combination of technologies move into the markets that Minidisc could dominate. My ultimate portable Minidisc recorder of the future would be able to:
-upload analog digital recordings to computer
-play Minidiscs that hold MP3, WMA, or other formats of audio (i.e. do exactly what Sony's D-CJ500 can, just using Minidisc instead of CD as the storage medium)
-have fast data transfer to computer via Firewire or USB2 connection (as USB2 is becoming increasingly common on new computers, and is backwards-compatible with USB v1.1 anyway)
-be able to serve as an external data drive, allowing users to store up to 140MB of whatever sorts of files they want in a very robust, portable format (Sony already made MD data drives for computers years ago. Perhaps it was too early, but surely now the market would respond better to the availability of such products.)
All of the above must surely be technologically possible right now. It is up to Sony whether they want to do it or not. Until they do, I see no compelling reason to upgrade from my current MZ-R900 recorder. Sony has the opportunity to boost Minidisc devices into something truly revolutionary. I hope they take it, but if they don't, I am sure someone will use another technology to provide the funtionality people seek. Sony must let Minidisc make the great leap into the future that the format is capable of, or risk seeing it disappear forever. The time to seize the opportunity is now, but the opportunity will not last for long. Let's hope that Sony can show the vision to make the most of it.