Sony MZ-R4ST look and feel

(a large picture of the portable and dock together)

The MZ-R4ST is Sony's latest portable MD recorder and comes with a docking station. You can think of the portable unit as a recording version of the MZ-E3, it's almost identical in size and styling (just a tiny sliver thicker), but with the LCD display on the drive lid. Sony says this is the smallest and lightest MD recorder in the world, and I would bet it has got Sony's new one chip ATRAC LSI inside.

The portable: controls are distributed around three edges: Bass boost (3 position), headphone volume limiter (on/off), mic sensitivity (2 position), hold (on/off), display mode, play, stop, seek/skip fwd, seek/skip rev, eject, locking red rec button, end search, track mark, pause (located near the end search and track mark buttons, far away from play, stop, etc). Two jacks: mic and headphone. Manual level control or AGC recording is possible, the vertical segments of the portable's time display are used as the level meter. Mono and Stereo recording modes.

ModeBattery Life
Lithium IonLithium Ion +
Alkaline Cells
Continuous Playback6.5 Hours10.5 Hours
Continuous Recording4 Hours6 Hours

The dock: optical in and out (toslink), line in and out (rca phono) with an optical/analog switch to select which, 1/4" headphone w/volume control. Includes sampling rate converter. The display is 20 columns in 4 rows and can display the disk name and track name at the same time. Titling character selection is interesting, a pallet of all the characters is put up on the display at once, and the 4 cursor keys (up, down, left right) are used to move around the display and select characters. Also has 42 built in handy phrases such as "My Best", "My Favorites", "Merry Christmas", "I love you", "I'm sorry" (?) and many other highly useful MD titling phrases. The base station can charge the portable's battery without removing it and can charge one additional battery at the same time. The display has two (l/r) calibrated rec-level segment arrays and record level adjustment. The display also includes the "position pointer" from the MZ-B3, graphically showing approximately how much of the MD's space has been consumed.

The portable couples into the base with a positive and fool-proof locking arrangement that uses two motor driven locking pins. To remove the portable you push a lever that runs a motor in the base that extracts the pins. Returning the portable to the base you push it into its "nest" and as soon as it is properly aligned the pins are driven in, locking the unit down from the inside. It doesn't budge once it's in place. It really gives one a sense that Sony built it right.

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