I bought this item on a whim to do digital, two track recording from the main outs on my new Mackie 1604VLZPro, around 1998 or 1999. It was five hundred dollars at the time, and very small.
I imagined with the ATRAC compression cutting off a lot of lows and highs that I could add them back to the mix by dubbing them through some low end on the board. The cheapness of the disks appealed to me, as did the portability.
I only use it these days for listening to the 100 or so MD that we fully recorded in stereo (74 min) or mono (148!) And to prove that it still works.
The sound quality was incredible. Building quality was top notch. It took some hard floor drives during it's career, travelled to some shows and on trips. Not a smoke free environment. Never once gave up, never quit working.
MD is of course a dead format now, and it really does sound like MP3s, especially through the 1/8" outputs. But the "remote" is handy, and the manual is great.
I've owned this mini disc player/recorder for about 4 years now and it really has been instrumental in my musical development.
Unfortunately the mini disc never really caught on, and now that things like the Ipod and Zoom H4 are out they're probably going to be pretty obsolete in just a short while (regular discs are becoming harder and harder to find and are most readily available used on ebay).
If you're looking for an inexpensive mini disc player/recorder this really is a great little piece of machinery. It records in digital quality, but it only exports in analog through a line out 1/8th inch stereo plug, and you have to export your recordings manually- as in hook the audio out from the mini disc player to the audio in on your computer, then hit record on your computer then play on the mini disc player and let the whole track play. This is honestly kind of annoying especially with things like the Zoom H4 out where all you have to do is record straight to wav or mp3 on the device, then just dump it on your computer.
One thing this specific model doesn't have is a variable line in setting (or basically you can't mix the sound thats coming into the mini disc player), although it does have a 'mic sensitivity' SWITCH for either low or high sensitivity (pretty lame honestly).
Because they're falling quickly by the wayside, I wouldn't really recommend buying ANY mini disc player/recorder right now, unless you're really broke. They make a really great and handy field recorder and are great for bootlegging shows and such but there are just better things out there to do all of that with nowadays that you don't have to download onto your computer in real time (like the Zoom H4).