Remembering the MiniDisc: The best thing that never happened to your music

The cruelest truth in technology is that being better doesn't always mean being the winner – or even surviving at all. Almost 20 years ago my uncle gave me one of the best pieces of technology I've ever owned, a product that still fetches nearly $200 on eBay despite the fact that the format it's built on has been dead for years. Before the iPod, before smartphone-based media players – heck, before smartphones themselves – there was the MiniDisc player, a new generation of Walkman.

The disc that gave the player its name offered the same amount of song time as a CD, but occupied less than half the space in the hand. It also boasted a durable plastic casing to protect against scratches, and it supported a shock memory technology that made vibration-based "skipping" virtually impossible. Oh, and in a world where rewritable CDs had yet to go mainstream, MiniDiscs were also rewritable.

There's plenty that MiniDisc got wrong, from its high prices to its compression formats ... and once hard drive-based PMPs like the iPod hit the scene its fate was sealed. But for the 16-year-old MrMobile at the dawn of a new century, MiniDiscs were the more durable, more versatile alternative to the cumbersome and fragile CD. Join me for a look back at the format (and the player that served me for seven years) in the latest MrMobile Retro Review!

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