This just in from Recording the Masters, one of the few companies that are keeping the manufacture of analog recording tape alive. The Mystik portable cassette player.recorder
. From the specs, just as crummy as the Walkman, maybe crummier.
Frequency response (playback) 100 Hz to 10 kHz ±3 dB - high fidelity by the 1960s standard, though no mention of record/playback response
Wow and flutter 0.4% - Wow! Giving them the benefit of weighting, that's 4x that of my TASCAM 112 and 2x that of the new Marantz I reviewed last year. I've only identified one company still making cassette transports (that's what's in the Marantz), but maybe they've found another company making one with even poorer performance.
Built-in microphone (well, this might actually be a better mic than from the 1970s)
Compatible with all cassettes - well, yeah, maybe one at a time. Somehow I don't think this unit has the mechanical sensor to identify the tape type and select the appropriate playback EQ, and, for recording, record EQ and bias.
No mention of decoding Dolby noise reduction
Feature packed - including Bluetooth transmitter, transparent window for viewing pleasure, and rechargeable battery via a USB port (though the photo of the prototype looks like a AA cell holder, which of course could hold rechargeable cells)
At least it's not very expensive. The lowest level Kickstarter pledge is about $80, and that will get you a Mystik and one blank cassette.
I think the world needs a new decent quality cassette player so you can get your old band recordings from 40 years ago out of the closet and on to your Facebook page, but this doesn't sound like it. I have utmost respect for Recording The Masters for their work in keeping analog tape alive. But really, what were they thinking here? I guess maybe they really believe that lo-fi cassettes will be catching on big time. I hope not, and I hope not.