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.

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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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