Comments on: Playing Audio on the Sony Clié

As Sony is a media giant, it is no surprise that their latest handheld, the PEG-N710C, has support for playing digital audio. What is a surprise is that it has built-in support for the controversial MP3 format, which is the preferred format for music piracy. Sony would rather people use its ATRAC3 format which has copyright protection. The N710C comes with applications that can play both.

Sony handled this in an unusual way. The N710C comes with a version of its Palm Audio Player and desktop app combo that plays MP3s and a completely different set that plays ATRAC3 files. Neither can play the other format.

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MP3 Overhyped and Over Priced!

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 10:53:59 AM #
The most overhyped feature of the Clie is its mp3 player functionality. Compared to standalone mp3 players, the clie costs significantly more due to the excessive price of its memory sticks. Sony must make most of its profits off of selling these sticks and sell its pda at a loss, similar to the razor/razor blade analogy. The maximum capacity of these sticks is only 128 mb at $299 with unwanted copyright protection built in whether you like it or not!
I read an article about new Creative Labs mp3 players coming out this September which will offer 6-10GB of storage for, you guessed it, $299 and compact at 3" x 6". Doing simple math, you get 46 times the amount of memory for the same price! Check the link below to read the full article.

http://www.zdnet.com/products/stories/reviews/0,4161,2706731,00.html

RE: MP3 Overhyped and Over Priced!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 11:29:50 AM #
Agreed. Not that I have anything against the N710C; I think it's a great step forward in PDA technology. The Memory Stick media is way too overpriced. I can't see myself dropping $500 on a PDA where I have to invest another $200 on data expansion just to listen to 4 hours of music. And if I want to use the PDA while listening, the battery won't last that long anyway.

I use a Sony Minidisc player when I travel myself. Although the transfer of .mp3s is a little more time consuming and the discs take up slightly more space, I'd much rather pay $12 for four hours of music media than $200.

RE: MP3 Overhyped and Over Priced!
Nate @ 5/2/2001 12:36:00 PM #
Yup. I wouldn't assume that Sony is making a huge profit on these things though - often cost of chip production is a question of scale, and since the demand for Sony's memory stick is much smaller than the other formats, their production costs are probably much higher. This is just one more argument for standard memory expansion.

As you said, I'm not really excited about the new Clie because of the music capability (I use a Sharp MD myself) but I am excited about the audio capability in general. In the japanese version the Clie is rumored to come with software that lets you download video from your PC (i.e. TV programs) that you can view on the Clie. This would be impressive, though it sounds like it would drain the battery pretty fast. I like the idea of having that capability - it would be sort of fun. Though at $300 for 128 megs, it would be very expensive.

BTW the new Minidisc players/recorders can get 320 minutes of music on a standard disc using the new MDLP format - pretty damn cool! I just saw an MDLP recorder that only costs $250 from Minidisco.com, and I might have to buy it...

_________
Syncplicity. Redefining Simple. www.cognitiveroot.com

RE: MP3 Overhyped and Over Priced!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 2:18:22 PM #

I heard a rumor that the audio capabilities of the new CLIE will NOT be accessible in programs other than the built in Audio Player application. If this is true that means that no games or other multimedia apps could take advantage of its improved sound. If this is true, it would really be poor and carelass implementation on Sony's part. Imagine playing a nice new game on a 320X320 color screen with the same bleeps and bloops for sound effects you could get on a Palm III...

Can anyone confirm or deny thir rumor?


RE: MP3 Overhyped and Over Priced!
mikecane @ 5/2/2001 2:31:07 PM #
That is true. Playing audio is trhrough headphones only. The speaker is more or less the standard PalmOS one (though louder).

RE: MP3 Overhyped and Over Priced!
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 3:09:21 PM #
>I heard a rumor that the audio capabilities of the new CLIE will NOT be accessible in programs
>other than the built in Audio Player application.

STOP SPREADING FALSE RUMORS!!! Go read the review by the well-established PalmOS game
developers Red Mercury, and you will see that there is an API to access the audio capabilities,
and that they think this plus the high-res APIs will take gaming on the PalmOS to new levels.

Atrac vs Mp3

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 11:27:22 AM #

Sony has been pushing the ATRAC format since the introduction of the MiniDisc, (which is the format which they use). Without getting into details of which is better, I would almost think that now would be the time Sony would push this format bigtime with all the controlversal stuff going on with Mp3s and with Microsoft announcing that they want to try and rid the world of Mp3s with in the next several years. I would think that Sony could had a big push with these if they lowered the price on their memory stick which is used to store the ATRAC compressed files. To fork out another $300 bucks is alot of money after tossing in the $500 bucks for the PDA already. I'm sure they'll probably have smaller memory stick for less price, but I'm guess if 128 megs cost $299.00 than the 64 meg one probably will about half of that, which still is alot of money and anything smaller than 64 megs to store music just really isn't cutting it in less you are willing to take a loss of the quality of the file you are listening too.

RE: Atrac vs Mp3
CLIE Users Group Moderator @ 5/2/2001 12:59:22 PM #
While ATRAC is a well-developed algorithm for sound compression (Sony has spent a lot of time researching the psycho-acoustic properties of various compression schemes), MP3 is widespread and has now become the defacto standard for compression. Thanks primarily to the popularity of Napster and other avenues for music "trading", the MP3 format is here to stay. It's too late to get MP3 back into Pandora's box, and even Sony now realizes this. To not offer MP3-playing while competitors have it would result in a marketing catastrophe for Sony, no matter ho good their PDA design is.

They will also soon realize that selling overpriced Memory Stick media will hurt them in the long run, now that much cheaper alternatives are available.

It's always difficult for companies to accept that their formats are not accepted as "standards", but Sony will have to adapt to the current market realities whether they like it or not.

CLIE Users Group website:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CLIE_Users_Group

Memory Stick is overprice when comparing with CF, MMC

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 11:59:31 AM #
Not only the memory stick is overprice when comparing with MP3 player
on the market using MMC, harddisk or so.

CF card and MMC card costs less than half the price for the same capacity, up to 128MB.

Sony is making huge profit margin.

Looks like the MP3 feature of N710C is not attractive any more due to this.

RE: Memory Stick is overprice when comparing with CF, MMC
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 9:39:26 PM #
My source says SONY knows their prices are high compared to the market and are planning on reducing the price in the near future. Maybe the Clie sales will bring down the price given that MP3 is a selling feature.

There will be 128MB MS

mikecane @ 5/2/2001 12:39:01 PM #
Sony's own site for the new CLIE actuallys shows a 128MB purple Memory Stick. "Available soon." techtv states such a beast will cost a whopping $230. Ouch.

RE: There will be 128MB MS
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/2/2001 8:24:21 PM #
ecost.com sells it for $151. Go check it out if you don't believe me.

Memory stick use...

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 1:01:46 PM #
Am i right in saying that one can defintely run programs off the memory stick. You don't need to first copy the program to the ram as in the case of the m505...

And you can store mp3's and whatever else you want on the stick?

Also, does anybody know whether it will be able to read data from other memory sticks such as a sony digital camera???

RE: Memory stick use...
CLIE Users Group Moderator @ 5/2/2001 1:15:32 PM #
In order to run programs directly from the Memory Stick, you would need PalmOS 4 and a program that was designed to take advantage of its new API.

To automatically "read" programs without having to copy the entire program into RAM, you would need to install a program called MSMount, currently being beta tested by thousands of CLIE users around the world. This program works very well and will likely be formally released soon. Sony should purchase MSMount and include it as part of the standard software.

You can download the latest version of MSMount here:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CLIE_Users_Group/files/MSMount%200.6.5.zip

CLIE Users Group website:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CLIE_Users_Group

RE: Memory stick use...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 10:45:27 PM #
MSMount works with Sony's VFS which is compatible with the OS 4 VFS. Theoretically, if this is the way it accesses MS, then MSMount should also work on any device with VFS. As a matter of fact, TRGPro users who have the latest OS 3.5.2 with VFS, and who have tried out MSMount find that it works although with some problems as would be expected of a beta software. Therefore, the author of MSMount should probably rename his/her software to CardMount as it should also work for M50x which has VFS. The only problem with M50x is the speed of accessing the slower SD/MMC compared with CF or MS.

MSMount loads in parts of the program/database into RAM. It loads only the records that are required and hence needs less RAM than the actual file size. What this means in practical sense is the ability to store a dictionary/encyclopaedia that is greater than 8MB and stil be able to access it on the Clie/Handera etc.

BTW does anyone know how MS compares with CF in terms of speed of transfer of information?

Clie's audio player

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 5:09:41 PM #
anybody know where the Clie's audio player can be downloaded for trial?

RE: Clie's audio player
neostorm @ 5/2/2001 6:06:39 PM #
The audio player cannot be downloaded. It ships with the device itself.

RE: Clie's audio player
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 6:26:18 PM #
damn. if that's the case, maybe i can try beaming the program from the clie to my prism...now, i have to find a demo unit that's working....

RE: Clie's audio player
Legible @ 5/2/2001 9:30:03 PM #
Hmmm ... I thought the audio player needs the headphone jack that the Clie has? Prism has no such sound hardware I believe.

RE: Clie's audio player
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 11:31:53 PM #
that's true, but it would be interesting to just see how the program works in another Palm Powered unit, yes? =)

RE: Clie's audio player
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/6/2002 3:26:06 PM #
I have another Sony Clie with the audio device but no application. If you guys can send me the audio player, I really appreciate it.
Please send me to:
rajsneh@yahoo.com

Thanks,
Raj

Memory stick

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 5:05:52 PM #
The Audio playback is not a big thing for me. Since I own Sony DSC-P1. It's a big thing for me to be able to use the picture taken from my digicam and display it on clie.
And it's better to buy 2 64's than 1 128 Memory stick.


RE: Memory stick
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 2:32:02 PM #
Same thing here... I have a dsc-s50 and use a 64mb memory stick along with a 32mb. The biggest thing that could have stopped me from getting one was the MG memory stick and no mp3. I can do both along with let the models see the pics on one memory stick while I shoot more pics with the other memory stick with a different model...

RE: Memory stick
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/5/2001 4:21:45 PM #
Attention, I live in Vancouver and couple days ago I Found that 64MB MS cost $200 and 128MB MS cost 380,
So it's cheaper to buy 128MB.


New Clie

atrizzah @ 5/2/2001 6:10:04 PM #
This unit has awful battery life. I'm not sure that it would last me a full day of use and music playback.

Peace Out
Alan
RE: New Clie
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/7/2001 4:28:26 AM #
Try putting the CLIE in the "Hold" mode when you are listening to the music! THat way, it will increase your battery life; take it out of the "hold" mode when you have to lookup something.

MP3 Playback & Screen

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 7:19:52 PM #
I had several thoughts about the new color Clie:
First of all, according to Sony's web site, a 64MB memory stick costs $140.
For about $10 more (last time I checked on palmgear) you can get a 64MB MP3 springboadr module!
The Sounds Good - I paid more for mine but I like it because it uses very little power from my Prism
battery - I can listen for about 2 hours without draining the batteries more than 5% or so (as long
as I leave the prism off...)
plus - MULTITASKING
I can listen to music and read avantgo, play games ... on the sony you have to stay in the stupid
MP3 app all the time you're listening :p
Also, who cares about a 320*320 screen with only 8 bit color??
For text it would be very nice - but it could just as well be b&w
The real advantage of a color screen is graphics - and don't let anyone tell you that 8 bit
looks almost as good as 16 or 32.. no way.
Sony would need to either focus on a cool graphics/multimedia machine - maybe built in
sound & MP3 hardware, and a 16 bit color screen - or make a good basic unit...


RE: MP3 Playback & Screen
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 7:38:57 PM #
What I am more interested is whether you can play a song (i.e. mp3) as an alarm ?

RE: MP3 Playback & Screen
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 8:25:09 PM #
Could not agree more! Have the soundsgood in my Visor Deluxe (Which is awsome, btw) and the total package costs 350, for 64mb of pure MP3 sound. Granted, not color, but I can multitask, and can spend my money on other stuff. Sony is playing a "gotcha" game with this new device - Advertising it's MP3 capabilities, but charnging a massive price for memory - which the less-research concience people out there would not realize until too late! I wonder how much you could store on the included 8mb stick....if 64MB = 1 hour, then 1/8th of that would be...12 minutes...maybe 2.5 songs....bummer...

-M.Ross



RE: MP3 Playback & Screen
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 8:43:54 PM #
I forgot to mention battery life - under most office lighting conditions I am able to easily view the N700C screen with the backlight off. I've been able to go 5 days of heavy use (music, note taking, games, reading) by selectively switching off the backlight - can't do that with the Prism!

RE: MP3 Playback & Screen
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 8:43:54 PM #
Regarding the multitasking comment, that is incorrect. I currently am using a 'localized' N700C. I am able to listen to music and perform other tasks - Avantgo (which I love), check schedule and addresses, etc.

As far as the 320X320 screen, fonts (particularly the medium size font) are finer, and in my opinion, easier on the eyes. I had a chance to live with both the Prism and N700C for a week before deciding to hand off the Prism to my father.

I agree that the colors on the Prism are much more vibrant than on the N700C - I do miss that. However, I prefer the appearance of photos on the N700C over the Prism despite the color difference because of the finer pixels - my opinion. I can't knock the Prism screen - I still think it's the best Palm OS screen when viewed indoors. But, I'll take that compromise for the ability to view the N700C screen outdoors - came in handy today on the golf course to jot down a note.

At this point, not having seen an m505 in person, I think the Prism and N700C are the best color Palm OS devices today. Of course, the old IIIc is not so bad considering the now low-$200 price point.

RE: MP3 Playback & Screen
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/2/2001 11:12:14 PM #
Regarding 8bit color on the Clie... From what I've been reading the device uses an "adaptive palate" for displaying images. Even though the device is limited to 256 colors, it can display any 256 colors at a time. This means that the display will optimize itself for images/applications and, in most cases, will appear to have a higher color depth than 256.

2c

RE: MP3 Playback & Screen
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 3:12:37 AM #
Sounds like I was wrong about multitasking: does anyone have experience with this? Is MP3 playback
run by dedicated hardware vs the main processor?

RE: MP3 Playback & Screen
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 3:16:55 AM #
CLIE N700/N710 has a DSP for music playback, therefore multitasking is possible. Infact, I don't think one could play MP3s with old DragonBall VZ, even overclock it to 42MHz.

RE: MP3 Playback & Screen
mengshi @ 5/3/2001 6:28:30 AM #
What's the point of the Sony Clie being able to play MP3 as alarms? You can hardly hear anything from that tiny speaker. Maybe they should have thought of a real speaker that you can hear like on the TRGPro and HandEra 330.

Voice Recorder (MP3/Atrac) would help nullify naysayers

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/3/2001 1:08:46 AM #
If Sony had included a built-in microphone and software that encoded to MP3 or Atrac, then there would be significantly fewer complaints.

It would be cool to be able to record a meeting in MP3 format. I'm sure other PDAs can do voice recording, but this functionality would legitimize the audio capabilities of the CLIE.

RE: Voice Recorder (MP3/Atrac) would help nullify naysayers
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/5/2001 3:23:47 PM #
YEAH RIGHT.. a 33 mhz processor can encode mp3's.. how long would that take? 5 hours?

RE: Voice Recorder (MP3/Atrac) would help nullify naysayers
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/5/2001 3:31:47 PM #
The CLIE already has an additional chip to allow it to DEcode MP3/ATRAC3 audio. Couldn't this handle the ENcoding?

RE: Voice Recorder (MP3/Atrac) would help nullify naysayers
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/7/2001 8:35:00 AM #
The encoding process takes longer and is more complex than the decoding process -- so it is not as simple as use the same chip.

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