MiniDisc is portable, lets listener arrange music...

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October 12, 1998

MiniDisc is portable, lets listener arrange music tracks

When the MiniDisc hit the market several years back, it landed with a big thud. A new generation of MiniDisc player/recorders has entered the ring for Round Two, bolstered by better compression software and cheaper recordable media.

Sharp's MD-MS702 MiniDisc player-recorder ($399) offers undeniable compactness and convenience. The small size (3 inches by 1 inches by 3 inches) and light weight (less than 8 ounces) means that it's equally at home in your pocket or plugged into your home stereo.

It's digital, and a MiniDisc's content can be navigated quickly and tracks can be quickly re-arranged or deleted. The MD-MS702 has a 100-character titler that lets you label each track. Commercial discs identify each track as it's played. The MD-MS702 offers other typical CD-type features such as auto-search, random play, repeat and cueing.

The big controversy over MiniDisc machines is the audio quality. Some people say it's CD-quality, others claim it isn't. Unless you're a stuffy audiophile, you probably won't hear a difference.

Is the MiniDisc here to stay? Should you choose an MD player/recorder over a good tape recorder, a portable CD player or a CD-Recordable? It really depends on what you want out of your device. If portability, recording and navigating/arranging recordings are important, the MD-MS702 is a good way to go, especially if you're not going to choke on the price. If you're interested in only pre-recorded music, go elsewhere. There's still scant little available in MD format.

Information: 800-237-4277 or CPU coolers. It sounds like an alcoholic beverage for geeks, but it's actually a piece of software that cools down your computer's processor by executing a command when the computer is in idle mode. This can extend your processor's life, lessen power usage (albeit by a tiny amount), and on laptops, extend battery life - reportedly by as much as a half hour.

The latest CPU cooler is Leading WinTech's Waterfall Pro 1.2 (WFP). The maker claims it can decrease your idle processor's temperature by up as much as 30 degrees centigrade. The program also adds a number of other features, including "CPU Throttling," which is useful mainly to hobbyists who enjoy pushing the limits of their computer by cranking up the clock speed of the processor. The throttle feature sets a limit to the load on the processor so that a machine that's been too "overclocked" won't crash and burn. WFP also has a number of features that offer small improvements on your system's performance.

Unless you're the kind of chip head who likes to obsessively tweak your PC for optimal performance, or an overclocker looking for a safety net on your hot-wired CPU, most of Waterfall Pro's extra features won't be of much use. But this little app (only 90 Kb!) is worth a download just for its power-saving, CPU cooling, and battery-extending features.

A freeware version has an ad for Leading WinTech (and its sponsors) that displays for 10 seconds whenever you launch WFP. A $15 shareware version is ad-free.


- Gareth Branwyn

You can find full reviews of these and other neat gadgets at

Pub Date: 10/12/98

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