USB/mp3 voice recorders?
August 3, 2004 7:16 AM   Subscribe


There seems to be a rash of "usb/mp3 voice recorder" flash thingies out there right now, like this. Many of them appear to be the same unit or same chipset, rebranded. Is there a good site that reviews stuff like this--generic gadgets available only online? And more specifically, how do I find the best one of these that will mount without drivers on my Ibook? I'd like to get something cheap to take voice notes in the car and be able to listen to mp3s.

I've been googling but not many reviews have come in. Many thanks.
posted by mecran01 to Technology (7 answers total)
Ars Technica recently had a review of several USB 2.0 flash drives (no mp3 capabilities tough).
In my experience they work with an iBook without special drivers. They appear to the Mac as standard USB mass storage devices.
posted by golo at 8:08 AM on August 3, 2004

Dan's Data does a lot of reviews of these weird multi-branded Taiwanese products. Here's one. Only downside is that he's in Australia so the brands usually don't match up so you have to go by looks.
posted by smackfu at 8:35 AM on August 3, 2004

Yo Mark. A couple of months ago I bought a Samsung YEPP. The packaging made a big fuss about Windows being required, but it was rated as a USB mass storage device, so it worked without a hitch in my PowerBook. It's a pretty nifty device. Teeny-tiny; nice display; decent sound. Minuses included uncomfortable ear buds; a misplaceable dongle that's required to attach it to a computer; and slow (USB 1.1) transfers. I ended up returning it once I figured out I could get my Treo 600 to do everything I liked about the YEPP for about $50 less. Guess I'm finally hopping on that convergence train.
posted by delapohl at 8:47 AM on August 3, 2004

mercran01, I have no advice about these but I am a voice recorder geek and suggest that there are some things about voice recorders that you should take into consideration before purchasing and that these things are probably not things you would think of unless you'd actually had a voice recorder already:

1. Ability to have unlimited (or so many it would seem so) folders so that you could sort your msgs.
2. Ability to move messages from folder to folder.
3. Able to split messages apart or join messages together into one.
4. Flag messages by importance (move the msgs that are most important/used to the front of the folder).
5. Time/Date stamp (not needed for everyone but can be useful).
6. Able to name messages with lengthy phrases that include any english characters.
7. Good Voice Activation Recognition - often when leaving long messages there are gaps when you're thinking. Good VAR will allow you to pause as long as you want and the recorder won't record the gaps. I was amazed at the capability of my Sony to do this.
8. Ability to change the sensitivity of the mic (terrific for getting rid of restaurant noise or car radio).
9. Upgradeable media. I'm sure the USB thingies you link to are all fixed but I prefer a recorder that I can drop in larger media (I use a memory stick recorder).

Downfalls of my player:

a. doesn't record as MP3 (not a downfall in my book but you obviously want it).
b. software that comes with it is PC only (not a downfall to me, even though I have a mac, because I see absolutely no use for transfering my notes to my computer. I can store hours and hours of msgs on the machine itself so that's what I do. I probably could buy a memory stick reader for my mac but I've not had the need to).
c. slightly larger than the usb thingies.

Anyway, if you're someone who will end up using the voice recorder a lot, I highly suggest you consider 1-9, above. Those features are way more important, in my eyes, than transfer speed and mp3 format. If all my messages had to be kept in the same folder, couldn't be labeled or joined/separated, I would probably find the device close to useless whereas it's presently the most used device I've ever owned, outside of probably my powerbook.

As mentioned in the digital recorder thread yesterday, I use and highly recommend the Sony ICD MS-1 which is no longer manufactured but can often be got on eBay.
posted by dobbs at 9:27 AM on August 3, 2004

I don't know about reviews, but sells a lot of this kinda plug-in add-on stuff at good prices. I've bought from them before.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:43 AM on August 3, 2004

I've heard many bad things about TigerDirect. RHD keeps promoting their advertisements but the user comments frequently decry them.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:48 AM on August 3, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the comments. I primarily want to use it during my commute (about 90 minutes total each day) to make short lists of "to do" tasks. I used to be a mild voice recorder geek, and really liked the usability of the "voice-it" brand. Again, thanks for the exact answers I was looking for. Google should be paying someone to watch this space.
posted by mecran01 at 2:43 PM on August 3, 2004

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