My second MD player was the SONY MZ-E55. I bought it mainly because of its
small size, but during the years of use I did not notice any serious drawbacks. I was perfectly
happy with that device. After skipping the MD LP and Net MD era, I decided that Hi-MD might be the
right occasion for an upgrade.
Good To Know...
Disappointment is often directly caused by wrong or too high expectations. There are just too many
details that are worth mentioning in order to adjust the expectations. Some of the information
available from official sources is insufficient, misleading or simply wrong.
- The dimensions are given as 81.7×76.1×14.8mm³. The manual already states "excluding projecting
parts and controls".
Well, I would not consider the large bulge holding the display as a projecting part. The recorder
has a thickness from 15.3mm to 18.0mm and I would therefore state the "outer dimensions" as
85.1×77.0×18.0mm³. However, I was able to locate the spots where the official measurements were
taken by doing a "reverse search" with a caliper set to the respective opening and looking for
the magic spot where it fits.
Don't get me wrong here, I'm not nit-picking. I had the MZ-E55 MD player and according to the
"official" measurements, this new Hi-MD recorder was supposed to be even slightly smaller than
the old MD player. That looked like a good trade, but after I unpacked the MZ-NH1, I knew there's
something seriously wrong.
- Battery Charging Stand
- The gizmo that looks like a beautiful docking station only serves as a battery charging stand
and for running the recorder on AC outlet power. If you are on a longer trip, you have to lug around that bulky thing in addition to the AC adapter to be able to recharge the battery.
There is no way to use the AC adapter without the battery charging stand, but you have to remove
the recorder from the stand for changing the MD. This will be inconvenient for longer
recording sessions, and might have negative impact on the lifespan of the rechargeable.
The strange thing about this docking station lookalike is: If you look closer at the battery
charging stand, you can see an outline to the right of the DC power connector.
That is the spot where the connector for the USB cable was supposed to sit, and the small
PCB inside the charging stand has the soldering pads for the connector located right there.
- Battery and Battery Charging
- The battery is a removable 3.7V 370mAh Lithium-Polymer cell (LIP-4WM). This means that you cannot use the batteries
from your previous SONY models, which were prismatic NiMH cells with 1.2V and 1200~1450mAh.
As mentioned above, there is no way to recharge the battery outside the recorder. A small
but usually worthless bonus is the displayed estimated charging time.
- USB Connection
- For USB Operation, the recorder has to be removed from the battery charging stand, because the
same docking port is used. For the connection you have to use the included custom cable, which has
two really bulky and heavy ferrite cores attached. That makes a total weight of 98g for the USB
cable, almost the weight of the recorder including battery and disc. If you grab the cable right
in the middle and whirl it around, you have the perfect weapon for self-defense. You could crack
ones skull with it if you use the proper technique.
The recorder is powered by the USB host power
while connected, but the battery cannot be charged using the USB connection. This means that
even Notebook users have to lug around the AC adapter and the battery charging stand if they
want to use the recorder disconnected from the Notebook.
- USB Data Transfer
- I already knew that the USB transfer would only be USB 1.1, and that this will
only allow transfer rates of a little below 1MB/s. But I did not expect
transfer rates that low: Read about 720kB/s and write about 490kB/s.
- Built-In LCD
- The built-in LCD has no backlight and it is very hard to read if you don't have good surrounding light. The opening is too narrow and
the LCD is too deep inside.
- The 5-way controller is very small and due to the protective rim against accidental
control very hard to handle. But one axis of the controller only sets the volume, so
a rocker switch would have been the better solution.
- The Size/Control Dilemma
The built-in LCD and controller will force you into using the remote and therefore are just
a waste of space and money.
But it looks like they have to be there so that the recorder is not useless without the
- To be continued...
- These are just the first and most important things that came to my mind. I will
continue this list step by step and finally add the few things I actually like.
Suggestions for Improvements
- Built-In LCD
- Get the LCD closer to the surface
- Use a window with larger height that light can enter from different angles
- Include a backlight
- Built-In Controls
- Use a rocker switch for volume control
- 5-way controller with better handling ("grip")
- Better use of the two controller axes (especially for menu navigation)
- Docking Station
- More connections: AC in, USB, Line In, Line Out, Optical In
- Changing of MD possible while docked
- Battery Charging
- Battery charging should at least be possible with the AC adapter only
- External charging would be best, but might not be appropriate for this type of rechargeable
- USB Cable
- If necessary, the USB cable should have proper sized ferrites that are molded to the cable.
- Supply a short USB cable for mobile use. Archos have supplied a tiny USB cable for
the ARCDisk with a total length of 79mm from tip to tip, actually 12mm of cable inbetween
the two plugs, and a weight of only 8g. You can put the device next to a Notebook's USB port
and connect it with this cable. Instead of the long USB cable, they could add a standard
USB extension cord.
These specifications could be of interest, but might not be available elsewhere.
- Outer Dimensions: 85.1×77.0×18.0mm³
Total Weight: 118g (including battery and disc)
- Type: SONY LIP-4WM
Specifications: 3.7V, 370mAh, Li-Ion (most likely Lithium-Polymer)
- Wired Remote Control
- Main Body Dimensions: 27×68×26mm³ (excluding cable outlet, including clip)
Weight: 27g (including cable)
Cable length: 0.83m (excluding plug)
Plug: 3.5mm Stereo with additional 4-pin connector
Headphone Socket: 3.5mm Stereo
- AC Adapter (Europe)
- Main Body: 52×72×29mm³ (excluding euro plug and cable outlet)
Total Weight: 124g (including cable with two snap-on ferrites, 20g each)
AC Specifications: 100-240V~, 50/60Hz, 7W
DC Specifications: DC 6V, 800mA
Cable length: 1.57m (excluding plug, with ferrites attached)
Plug: 4.0mm/1.7mm, center positive
- Battery Charging Stand
Outer Dimensions: 49×97×36mm³
- USB Cable
- Length: 1.12m (excluding plugs, with ferrites attached)
Total weight: 99g (including two snap-on ferrites, 28g each)
10-pin docking plug to USB-A plug
Pin Assignment: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9 (NC) - not connected
3 (red) - USB pin 1 = Vbus
5 (white) - USB pin 2 = D-
6 (green) - USB pin 3 = D+
10 (black) - USB pin 4 = GND (also connected to plug shield and with 100nF connected to the cable's shield)
- Storage Capacity
MD 60 minutes formatted to Hi-MD: 219.3MB total, 218.5MB free
MD 74 minutes formatted to Hi-MD: 270.1MB total, 269.3MB free
MD 80 minutes formatted to Hi-MD: 291.6MB total, 290.8MB free
Hi-MD 1GB: 964.7MB total, 963.9MB free
A formatted Hi-MD contains one zero sized file "HI-MD.IND" in the root directory and
one folder "HMDHIFI" containing 8 files. These files and the folder take up 832kB (26 clusters)
on an empty Hi-MD and will grow when MD audio is added.
- Superfloppy FAT16 (no MBR, no partition table)
2048 bytes per sector, 16 sectors per cluster (32kB cluster size), 2 FAT copies, 512 root directory entries
MD 60 minutes formatted to Hi-MD: 112311 sectors, 7 sectors per FAT, 7018 clusters available
MD 74 minutes formatted to Hi-MD: 138363 sectors, 9 sectors per FAT, 8646 clusters available
MD 80 minutes formatted to Hi-MD: 149373 sectors, 10 sectors per fat, 9334 clusters available
Hi-MD 1GB: 494023 sectors, 31 sectors per FAT, 30872 clusters available
Hans-Jürgen Reggel · http://www.hjreggel.net/gadgets/SONY-MZ-NH1.html · 2004-08-27~2004-09-10