Last but not least we come to the Zooms, starting with the H1, which leaves me with mixed emotions. There are many positives to be said, such as the pair of directional microphones that record with a broad frequency range to a very high standard. Many of the audio settings are built-in to the body as physical switches too, which saves fiddling around with battery-draining and monitor-distracting screen manoeuvres.
Unfortunately, for voice recording, the H1 could be better. There is no pause button for record, so it creates a new file each time you stop. Plus the cheap plastic body picks up a lot of noise when held and pressing buttons can be disastrous mid-recording. It's also pretty sluggish to boot and slower than most to process after a recording ends.
There's still much to love. Users can choose between various Wav and MP3 formats, with uncompressed recordings blowing my socks off in quality. There's also a bright orange screen, MicroSD expansion, and decent background noise elimination with a low-cut switch.
The H1 runs on a single AA battery and life could be longer, but overall you've got to hand it to Zoom here, the H1 is a pretty nifty tool, and an affordable option for any careful dictaphonatic. What it seems to lack in build is made up for in sound and the price point is very reasonable.
Reg Rating 75%
More info Zoom
First off, it has to be said that the H4n is more than a voice recorder, and sits higher up the pecking order in a field-recorder area of products. Moroever, it doesn't merely handle audio recording, but can plug into a PC and act as an entire audio interface with XLR and Jack ports. There are heaps of features for music recording too, but as the focus here is on voice recorders, so we'll skip that – click here for more.
As a recorder, the device is a great tool for dictation too, albeit a chunky one. Indeed, the Zoom H4n looks a bit like an oversized taser, with the two built-in mics protruding from the top. The capture pattern of these mics can be adjusted by twirling their nozzles round. As with its smaller sibling, the H4n records in a range of file formats, from low-rate MP3s all the way to a 96kHz/24bit Wav recording.
The basic display set against a bright orange background is clear and easy to navigate through using the jog-wheel on the side. The H4n has no built-in storage, although it does come bundled with a 1GB SD card. Unfortunately, the SD card can accidentally pop out through its cover, should you squeeze the device in a tight grip, thus losing any recording currently in process.
As a standalone dictation device, you probably don't need to splash out on something as extravagant as this. While the likes of the Grundig costs just as much, the Zoom H4n is undoubtedly versatile but in this group context, it is the proverbial sledgehammer to crack a nut. ®
Reg Rating 80%
More info Zoom
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 email@example.com 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.