I have a new favorite toy. It’s an Olympus DS-330 digital voice recorder, and these days you’ll find that my personal tape recorder for saving interviews and recording passing ideas and thoughts has been tossed in the dustbin of history.
Digital voice recorders, on the other hand, let you make recordings just as you would with a tape recorder. You can record memos, meetings and phone conversations, assuming you have permission. But the recordings are stored on the recorder in WMA, WAV and other formats. You can either listen to the files on the recorder itself or transfer them to a PC for playback, archiving and sending as e-mail attachments.
When I got my hands on the Olympus DS-330, I was in heaven. Here was a small, light device that fit right into my hand. No extra media to break or get erased. It stores files in its own DSS format, which is a small and efficient size when I transfer the files to my Mac, using a standard USB cable. (The recorder comes with a USB cradle, but you don’t have to use it.) The software allows me to sort the files, archive them, and play them back at a slower speed for easier transcribing. This doesn’t affect the pitch of the sound. The DS-330 comes with 16MB of memory and provides about 5-1/2 hours in the long-play mode. Other recorders offer much more.
Your MP3 player may already have voice-recording capabilities. The Dell Digital Jukebox comes with a built-in microphone, while the Apple iPod can be outfitted with a Belkin Voice Recorder with Dock Connector. The latter records in the WAV format and easily transfers files to iTunes, which works with both Macs and Windows. With the large hard drives of these devices, you have hours of recording time.
If you own the Hewlett-Packard iPaq, Dell Axim X3i or Toshiba Pocket PC e750, you also have a recorder. Palm OS-based voice recorders include the Tungsten T3 from Palm and Sony’s PEG-TH55. Each of these will transfer your voice memos when you sync them with your computer.
As for voice recorders similar to the DS-330, there are a lot of choices. Panasonic’s RR-US006 can hold up to 7 hours of recording in long play, and comes with a multi-use cradle that hooks up to your PC via USB. Among its features is Voice Editor 3 software and it works with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 7.0, which is the leading voice-recognition software. Simply import your recordings into the Dragon software and you get your notes quickly transcribed–although the accuracy can be a little spotty. Olympus’s DM-20 it offers a whopping 44 hours of recording time and can be used with the company’s AS-3000 transcribing device.
So if you’re looking to ditch the tapes and go digital, you should. Your thoughts, as well as other people’s words, are a terrible thing to waste. Well, some of them anyway.