Sony Will Never Learn

july 2, 2004

Sony tries to take on Apple again with their NW-HD1.

The Walkman supports only Sony's ATRAC3 compression format, versions of which are used with Sony's MiniDisc players and its recently-launched Windows-only "Connect" online music store. Music files encoded in other formats, such as MP3, first have to be converted to ATRAC3 before they can be played and software to accomplish this is included. The sleek aluminum case features a 1.5-inch backlit display...The player runs on an internal rechargeable battery and this will last for up to 30 hours when playing files encoded at the minimum supported bit rate of 48Kbps, according to Sony. This falls to 27 hours when listening to files encoded at 64Kbps or 128kbps. Sony plans to put the NW-HD1 on sale in Japan on July 10 for ¥53,000 (US$490), in the middle of August in the U.S. for less than US$400, and later this year in Europe.
People don't like ATRAC3. And people don't like transcoding their music from MP3 to another format -- the time that it takes to transcode and the quality lost during the transcoding is unacceptable. Sony why won't you come to the conclusion that the music players which you are trying to sell are not selling well because you are trying to force people into using your proprietary format. When people have gigs of music ripped into MP3, WMA, or even the open AAC format, they are not going to reinvest time in re-ripping their music. And to transcode just makes for a lot of time consuming work. Sony is releasing a harddrive player that is the first to carry the Walkman name. The NW-HD1 has some pretty nice features -- most of all a 27 to 30 hour running time. The "feature" that will kill this machine is the sole support for ATRAC3 on the player with no native support for any other format -- in other words you'll have to transcode your music if you want to use the NW-HD1, and most likely you'll have to use the crappy piece of software named SonicStage.