CES: Portable Audio Makes Some Serious Noise

By Joseph Palenchar
[The following are clips from the January 27, 1997 issue of TWICE (This Week in Consumer Electronics). Transcribed by Daryl Osbrink]

[...] Sony privately showed the industry's smallest headphone MD player, which is about the size of two MD jewel cases [EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr. Palenchar is actually referring to recordable MDs' plastic sleeves], as well as the industry's first headphone MD player/tuner.

[very nice picture of the new MZ-E30 (with Japanese-style earbuds); caption reads: Sony's 3.25 x 1 x 3.12-inch MZ-E30 will be the industry's smallest MD player when it ships in May at a suggested retail of $469.]

[...] Kenwood: Two portable MD units due in April are a $300-suggested-retail play-only model and a $400-suggested-retail portable player-recorder. Also planned for April: the company's first home MD recorder at $700 and a MD minisystem at $1,000. Until now, Kenwood's only MD product was a 10-disc car changer.

[...] Sony: The only new MD portable on public display was the MZ-R30 player/recorder, which at a suggested retail of $599 is priced $100 lower than its predecessor but adds sampling-rate converter and longer battery life. The converter accepts 32kHz DSS signals and 48kHz DAT signals.

The supplied lithium-ion battery provides eight hours of playback time or five hours of recording time. Playback time goes to 15 hours when the lithium-ion battery is used in conjunction with two add-on AA alkalines. It ships in February. The playback time of the MZ-R3 that it replaces was eight hours on two AA alkalines and lithium-ion rechargeable.

It weighs 7.75 ounces without rechargeable battery, is 3.5 x 0.8 x 2.3 inches, and comes with vertical jog dial to input characters and perform title-search and track-selection functions. Other features include full editing capability and synchro recording.

Sony privately talked up the MZ-F40 play-only portable with digital AM/FM tuner. It is scheduled for May shipment at a targeted suggested retail of $449. It's 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9-inches in size and operates on two AA batteries providing six hours of MD playback time or an NiMH rechargeable providing 4.5 hours of MD playback.

The "ultra small" MZ-E30 player, also shown privately, is due in May at a tentative suggested retail of $469. It's only 3.25 x 1 x 3.12 inches, operates on one AA battery or a rechargeable, and weighs 4.2 ounces without rechargeable battery. Weight with rechargeable battery was not available.

The rechargeable delivers four hours of playback time; an AA alkaline delivers five hours; and the two combined deliver 10 hours.

Previously, Sony's smallest play-only portable MD was the 4.25 x 0.75 x 3-inch 7.2-ounce MZ-E2, which isn't current.

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