We have had MP3 players for the car for a while now and generally they work on one of two principles. The first and most common is the unit with a CD player that reads MP3 encoded CDs like Kenwood’s Z828. The second is a unit like the Rio Car that has an internal hard drive to store music. When you want to load tunes you remove the unit from the vehicle and attach it to your computer to transfer music.
Now a manufacturer has gone one better. An automotive CD player with a hard drive that RIPS CDs directly into the unit’s drive.
The Sony MEX-HD1 is the first unit we have come across that can do this, an idea that makes perfect sense with respect to consumer convenience. The user slips a standard CD into the head unit, selects which tracks they want ripped, hits the button and the chosen songs are compressed on the fly and saved to the drive. Eventually the CDs can stay home as overtime your entire collection of music is transferred to the unit.
“This new hard drive head unit offers consumers the latest technology to provide convenience and customization in the car”. said Steve Haber, senior vice president of marketing for mobile electronics at Sony Electronics. ” It’s another step towards personalization on demand”.
“Personalization on demand” is an interesting phrase coming from Sony Electronics considering Sony Music calls the ability to rip tracks “piracy”. But then Sony Electronics was burned on their first digital music portable offerings when they capitulated to Sony Music’s demand that these portables add disruptive music security features and protocols. This included eschewing the unsecure MP3 format for the company’s proprietary ATRAC3 format (see review). The players – which we found to be pretty good until you had to download a song to them- died on the shelves once disatisfied buyers got the word out.