Sony MiniDisc recorder to feature Mac support

Sony’s new MZ-RH1 MiniDisc Walkman will feature, for the first time, Mac support, the company acknowledged Thursday. Sony has unveiled the MZ-RH1, a portable player/recorder that Sony is positioning as a mobile recording studio.

The MZ-RH1 won’t ship initially as Mac-compatible, but Sony said that it will release Mac software in summer 2006. The MZ-RH1 will initially go on sale in Japan in late April and in Europe in 2006. It’ll more than likely hit U.S. store shelves this summer. The retail price in Japan is expected to be about ¥40,000 (about $343).

Sony’s MiniDisc has been around since the early 1990s. The format started out as a replacement for audio cassettes; Sony promoted it as a removable data storage system for computers, as well. The MiniDisc format has seen limited success over the years, but has found a niche in field recording — hence Sony’s emphasis on the MZ-RH1 as a mobile recording studio.

The MZ-RH1 supports Hi-MD, a high-capacity version of the MiniDisc format that enables you to store up to 1GB of data, or about 94 minutes of PCM audio or 45 hours of digital music. Audio formats supported by the new device include LinearPCM, several variants on Sony’s ATRAC codec and MP3. It connects to a Mac or PC using USB 2.0.

The tiny recorder measures 3.45 x 3.45 x 0.68 inches and weighs 3.74 ounces. It features an Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) screen, as well. It will be available in black and silver finishes.

The MZ-RH1 can record live audio, as well. Users can adjust the mode to reflect what they are recording, which could be a live event, their own “jam” session or a meeting.

Macworld UK contributed to this report.

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