I'm relatively new to MD; I recently purchased a NetMD, primarily as a field recorder, for when its impractical to lug along my DAT deck. And on the positive side, the recording experience is fine -- small, quiet, well-made MD player, very good sound with the latest ATRAC Type R, etc.
Then we get home... and I'm forced to pretend that this digital recorder is little more than a small Philips cassette machine. I'm forced to dub analog to analog for PC editing (as if anyone does audio anywhere else). Ok, sure, I could run S/PDIF or Sony consumer optical with a home unit. I can run S/PDIF or AES/EBU with my DAT, too. I don't care to invest in more MD gear to use what I already bought. It's still a reasonable recorder, but only until something better comes along. If affordable MP3 or DataPlay units with field recording AND digital upload capability existed today, I probably wouldn't have considered a NetMD.
Then there's the ripper's side. Sony's claim is that they're opposed to piracy, and that's as it should be. As a person only concerned with fair use, I don't have a problem with the copying limits imposed. In fact, the system seems to only give a bit of annoyance to anyone who would mass produce digital copies. It really doesn't prevent permanent "trading" of music on MD.
So basically, I see a nicely streamlined system for the casual pirate, with digital recording via optical or fast digital recording via USB. Field recording, on the other hand, is not well served. And I'm recording music, generally at SP mode, so analog upload to the PC isn't a major issue in realtime. But the system with LP4, small size, long battery life, and fast computer uploads would be just perfect for dictation, interviews, other forms of speech recording. Only, without that upload, we have a 5-hour play-in. Ouch!
Please consider valueable features for the totally legit use of the MD units.