Friday, August 7, 2009

Ancient Hardware Reviews Pt 3

Back before flash mp3 players, iPods, and portable video players, a market emerged for portable CD players that could play the emerging mp3 audio formats. Sony's response was the magnificent MPD-AP20U which solved 3 interesting problems all at once. The first solution it offered was as a portable CD-RW drive for any computer. It's rechargeable battery meant that it could be used on a whim if necessary, and it's cradle allowed it to serve as a semi-permanent fixture. If all this device could do was burn CDs, it would be pretty wonderful, because at the time (circa 2003) CD burning wasn't exactly the most common thing for everyone. Next up was it's ability to playback those CDs immediately thanks to its handy remote control (seen on the right). Being able to make a music disc and then take it away was fantastic - a wonderfully thought out product. Add on top of this the drives ability to playback DVDs when connected to the computer, and you have a stunning all-in-one device (I'm noticing that I really tend to go after these do-it-all solutions...) Oh yeah, and there was a memory stick reader thrown onto the back of it (I never used it once). So this guy could do it all - and looked great doing it too with the aluminum shell. But the MPD-AP20U wasn't without its faults; the primary one being that I lost that remote so many times it was ridiculous - and with no easy way to obtain a replacement, the portable CD-player was rendered inoperable in those moments. That small shortcoming was always forgiven by me due to it's single greatest and un-written feature: mp3 DVD playback. When I got my first DVD-burner in mid 2003 - I discovered that this portable CD player could playback music files burned on DVDs. What did that mean? That while most people were thrilled with their hyper-expensive iPods and proprietary iTunes music (which was only compatible with PCs via MusicMatch software [ugh]) - I could burn a 4.7 GB DVD of music (or 2) and play them back with no problems on my (albeit larger) device. Did I take issue? Of course not - I loved having the discs back then, and besides, iPods didn't play DVDs on my computer either. Like all good things - my MPD-AP20U was retired once I bought my first hard-disk based mp3 player: An MPIO HD300 20GB model - but I thoroughly respect this device for all that it accomplished for me.

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