Philips Voice Tracer LFH0615/27
Although I quite like its almost 1980s styling, this Philips has no backlight on the basic calculatory display. Its plastic body isn't exactly robust either, which is a bit of let down following its retro-tastic start. A mini USB port on the side connects to the PC, so a cable is a necessity and, with no memory expansion, you'll have to make do with the 4GB onboard.
The Voice Tracer is easy to use, though, and can power on and start recording at an instant. There are 396 recording banks spread over four folders to fill, as well. However, this Philips drops the Wav format – which its predecessor had supported – instead, going solo with MP3, all in mono. There's a mammoth battery life of up to 141 hours, though and a fairly nifty voice actuation features, plus Philips ClearVoice - essentially an onboard dynamics processor to even out variations in signal level.
Sadly, sound quality is far from ideal and quite bassy. Talking into the microphone is a must here. For a triple figure price, the Philips was one of the least clear in my London Underground test too and I cant say I was overjoyed with the overall results.
Reg Rating 70%
More info Philips
Sony ICD UX300
Sony's ICD UX300 is a nicely-sized recorder that serves its purpose reasonably well, with just a few shortcomings. For starters, the 4GB memory is all you get, as there's no storage expansion. Even so, filling all 990 recording slots is an unlikely prospect.
The microphones also appear to have little protection from the elements, protruding from each side and picking up a lot of wind in outdoor environments. There is some noise reduction tech installed too, which won't solve the problem of wind, but does a good job cutting out noise on the tube and reducing the background hustle and bustle.
It's unlikely to serve too well in a voxpop interview on Brighton beach, but use it in a meeting or seminar and the UX300 does more than a sufficient job, delivering a crisp sound. A switch on the side changes the skip track buttons into playback speed controls, also skimming through the track without a chipmunk squabbling in your lugs.
Other features include voice actuation, a direct USB connection and the ability to double up as a music player. The lack of additional storage and the wind-sensitive microphones is just too much of a let down to justify the triple figure price point, though.
Reg Rating 80%
More info Sony
Next page: UltraDisk DV7
Can I use your dictaphone?
No, use your finger like everyone else.
Possibility of a flame war here, but...
I have an iphone (I'm not proud of it - it's my work phone) and it has a voice recording app on it. I'm about to start an evening course and was planning on recording the lectures on the phone. Given that phones are designed to pick out voice and discard other frequencies, how does the iphone app (or similar) compare to these as a dictation device?
comment from UltraDisk Voice Recorders
Many thanks for the question on the UltraDisk recorder. The need for Mac support is one I hear more and more.. It is great to hear that we have the demand from different users of Operating systems and file formats.
At the moment, It wouldn't work as the removable drive is formatted as FAT 32, it is partitioned by NTFS (Windows OS) so 1 drive appears as a CD containing the UltraDisk PC software (read only) and the other is mapped as a removable storage device. Macs by default will not recognise NTFS (B.Gates v S.Jobs etc) without some additional 3rd party software, this not supported natively by Apple. So Apple do not recognise the drive for this reason. The UltraDisk software is written for PC 32 bit and 64 bit only, no Mac software exists (just yet)..
If you ever need any support regarding any UltraDisk please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit UltraDisk support online, I will be happy to help. The products are fully compatible with Microsoft Windows supported on 32 and 64 bit. I'm also happy to hear from experts in Linux / Macs who may wish to make suggestions.
We will be releasing a Mac compatible version that will not rely on NTFS and it is in our roadmap for development. Do watch this 'UltraDisk' space!
As we are a small UK business, I was obviously flattered to be contacted by Caleb regarding UltraDisk voice recorders. Although quite surprised (but pleased) to see we have been positioned against some of the largest corporate brands..
By contrast to the others, UltraDisk is a small family business based in Manchester, our scale and attitude in business is very different, development therefore takes us a little longer, not just in time, but largely to finite resources unlike the share capital available to Sony, Olympus Grundig etc, This fails to get a mention and Caleb was aware of this, so a little misleading of where we are at.
Despite our size differences, we offer support, advice, listen to what is said and continue to offer feature rich products at a price that is more favourable with entry level customers. Whilst I am flattered about the comparison in this run down, I'm also aware that it makes a good portion of judging the product on something which it is not. The author was aware of this in advance, but I fully respect the artistic license of the reviewer to highlight Mac support in whatever way.
Mac support is in sight and I'm pleased to hear we have the product demand, we have a full support / ticket desk FAQ etc at http://www.ultradisk.co.uk/support-center
I hope this helps answer the question, many thanks to Caleb too for placing 2 of our products in the top 10.
UltraDisk Digital Voice Recorders.
Professional Voice Recorders
Whilst these devices are all very well made and have many features, only the Grundig can be classed as a professional Voice Recorder. The other primary manufacturers (Olympus and Philips) are not represented here accurately. Olympus have a device called the DS 5000 ID which comes with 2 SD expansion slots and a biometric finger scanner to allow multiple people to log in and their personal details are stored when docked and sent for transcription. It also serves as a security feature.
The Philips 9600 is also a market leader with PIN security and DS2 file encryption, as with the Olympus DS 5000, it also can hold multiple profiles and demographic information on each dictated job.
As for the iPhone (and Android devices and Blackberry for that matter) there are many recording software suites out there that connect to enterprise solutions such as Winscribe, the market leader, but the smartphones have limitations such as battery life and audio quality, but do have the advantage of over the air transmission into a workflow solution.
audio file samples
Would be nice to have sample audio files to listen to of knocks, echoes etc.