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Battery life
The battery system on the R-70 is pretty simple, and battery life is generally good. The R-70 comes with a NiCad NC-WMAA Sony battery that will charge when the unit is plugged in. It delivers about 3 hours of recording time or 6.5 hours of playing time on a full charge. Charging up usually takes a little over 3 hours. Battery life isn't exceptional with the included battery, but it is reasonable.

The nice thing here isn't necessarily the battery itself, or the automatic charging, but that you can also pop in a standard AA battery and get up to 17 hours of playback time. You won't be able to charge this battery, but you won't be left high and dry without your music if the Sony battery runs out. Far too often I see portable devices with fancy internal batteries, and while the battery life may be good and the battery well integrated, you're stuck if the battery dies and you don't have anywhere to plug in the charger.

On the battery front, it would be nice to see the 17 hours of playback time on the rechargable that comes with the unit, but realistic tradeoffs have to be made. As nice as it is to be able to charge the battery by simply plugging the R-70 in with its AC adapter, it doesn't get the same life as a standard AA. At least with the R-70, you have the option of using one, the other, or both.

Fits in the palm of your hand.

The media
Being a Minidisc player/recorder, the R-70, of course, relies on the Minidisc medium for both recording and playback. The MD is, for all intents and purposes, nothing more than a smaller CD enclosed in a plastic body similar to that of a floppy disc. These bodies come in a wide variety of rave-induced bright colors, most of which also include cases for the individual MDs.

The Minidisc body measures 7cm x6.75cm x 0.5cm, while the internal disc is 64mm in diameter. Pretty small, though other forms of digital media like Compact Flash, SmartMedia, and Memory Sticks are smaller. These alternative media are also more expensive, and don't have as much storage capacity.

This just wouldn't be a TR review without a graph, so I made one for you to ponder. All the prices were taken for J and R Electronics' online site. I'm sure you can find X, Y, or Z media/manufacturer cheaper at A, B, or C vendor, but using a single vendor that carries several brands of each media should give us a better idea of how the media stack up against each other in relative terms. In all cases, the brand/product yielding the cheapest cost/MB value was chosen. CD-R/RW media was excluded because, well, we all know how cheap it is, and its significantly larger size makes it unsuitable for anything smaller than a discman.

And you thought RAM was cheap!

You can pack 74 minutes of audio onto each 140MB disc using the Minidisc-standard ATRAC compression scheme, which we'll look at a little later on. These aren't write-once discs; you can actually erase and rewrite them up to a million times. If value for your money is what you're looking for, MDs are all over the competition. You get almost 100 times the amount of audio on MDs than you do on Compact Flash or Smart Media for the same price, and let's not even talk about memory sticks.