Sharp MD-S50 Review
Contributed by Erin ([email protected])
The MD-S50 is a play-only walkman that was released in the earlier
part of 1996. As far as I know, the MD-SS70 is its replacement. The
MD-S50 uses the classic 'clamshell' style design: the lid pops open on
an angle, you insert the MD, then close the lid. The SS70 uses the
newer 'slot-in' style design, but it is substantially larger.
My friend bought the MD-S50 for me in Tokyo a while ago for 24,000
Yen including tax. With the recent release of Sharp's MD-SS70, the
MD-S50 may be found even cheaper.
Here are my thoughts on the MD-S50, in no particular order:
Final thoughts: if price is an issue then you may want to compare the S50's
price to the SS70, as the S50 should be significantly discounted now. If
price doesn't matter as much, and you'd like the slot-in design, go for the
SS70 - you get the ease-of-use of the slot, plus over double the
playback time, however it's substantially larger than the S50.
- Unit is pretty small. Smaller than I thought. (Bear in mind though
I'm used to big honkin' North American walkmans).
- Nice finish (I got the blue; almost a bluey-grey)
- Headphones sound quite decent to my ears. Much, much better than
my MZ-R2 'phones, but that's not saying much, since the R2's sound
pretty bad. These are earbud-style phones.
- 4 hrs playback on the internal lithium-ion. If you want more
though, you have to buy the external alkaline battery pack. The
internal battery charges in a very respectable 2.5 hrs. (The SS70 provides
10 hours continuous playback on the internal cells, 27 hours when
coupled with the external 6 cell alkaline pack).
- In-line remote has a nice display but the construction feels a little
cheap compared to the MZ-R2's. I haven't had a lot of experience with the
other in-line remotes like the E3's but this one feels somewhat cheap
(button presses and the plastic they used).
All the critical commands are on one large button that has four 'corners'.
Play/Pause is in one corner, stop in the other, and track skip left and
right in the two bottom corners. I'm finding this setup a little
cumbersome, because you can accidentally hit the wrong button. But I'm sure
I'll get used to it once I'm more familiar with the remote.
The connection between the remote and the headphones is (thankfully) a
standard stereo minijack, so you can use whatever headphones you want and
still use the remote. The manual also recommends hooking up a line out
cable to the headphone jack on the in-line remote if you need line-out
capability, since the unit has no dedicated line-out jack.
- No LCD display on the unit itself, only the remote. :(. One big question
here: why isn't there a display mode that shows the time remaining (track or
disc)? This seems like a pretty major oversight, as that's a standard
feature on pretty much every disc-based media.
Also, I find the text display scrolls a little slow for my liking (about 1/4
of the speed I'd like). Perhaps more complex katakana characters take
longer to read? I dunno, but it seems to me that since it's displaying a
song/artist title that the user probably entered themselves (anyone out
there using pre-recorded MDs?), it should scroll much faster.
- Buttons on the unit are: stop, play (doubles as a track skip forward
button when playing), volume +, volume -, and the open switch. There is no
pause button on the unit. The buttons are silver and remind me of the
buttons on the old high-quality walkmans from the 80s that Sony put out.
- Carrying case. Major gripe here, the case is HUGE! It's really
a bag with a drawstring, made from a black synthetic, with a soft
fuzzy lining. It's much wider and taller than the unit itself. Why
couldn't they have given us a nice form-fitting case for this? The
bag is big enough to hold the unit plus 5 or 6 MDs easily, but then
there is a risk of the unit being scratched.