NetMD is a new feature for MiniDisc recorders that allows them to be connected to a PC via USB and was introduced so that MD could compete with MP3 players on their own turf - the computer. NetMD attempts to solve many drawbacks of the MD format - the inability to digitally record from a computer, using formats like MP3 and WMA and the realtime recording speed. NetMD allows transfer of all formats of audio (MP3, WMA, WAV etc) to the MiniDisc recorder at speeds faster than realtime (up to 4X for SP, 16X for LP2 and 32X for LP4) and also allows tracks to be moved, deleted and titled from the PC. However, the system in its current form has many drawbacks:
- NetMD uses Sony's OpenMG software suite, which is only available for PC and has restrictions on its operation.
- Even though it accepts other formats, all tracks must be converted to Sony's ATRAC3 format which has a maximum bitrate of 132kbps (LP2 quality). Tracks can be recorded in SP mode from the PC, but they've still been converted to ATRAC3 so a lot of quality is lost.
- Recording SP tracks using ATRAC1 Type-R is only possible on non-PC realtime recordings and is not allowed using the PC (although it is apparently technically possible).
- No uploading is allowed, which means that people who record things on MD cannot upload them to their PC for mastering or conversion to other formats.
- No Mac support has yet been announced by Sony.