Have you ever found yourself in this situation? Let’s say you and a friend have been, off the cuff, coming up with some great ideas. Or at least you think they are. In the heat of the moment when you all are rapid firing straight brilliance at each other, it’s hard to remember what was good and what was only good at the time.
This is a situation I thought I was finding myself in a lot. We laugh, make jokes, come up with ideas, have deep conversations, and all that good stuff but by the next day, most of that conversation gets lost in the aether.
I attempted to write stuff down, but that loses some of the spontaneity of a real conversation. Sure, we thought of some cool stuff this way too but in the end, it’s a different type of thought process when it’s structured like that.
So, a recording device was the next idea. Yes, I could use my phone but that wastes its battery and there’s something special about having a device that only has one purpose: to record people, with their permission of course. Plus, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything when I brought it around, the phone’s quality is iffy in situations like this.
I initially checked Radio Shack. I found one I wanted but I have no loyalty to that store (and they’re really overpriced) and decided to search online instead. I found the SONY ICD PX333 Digital Voice Recorder on Amazon for $40-$70. This was a bit more than I initially wanted to spend, but the reviews spoke highly of it. I decided to dive in and purchase it on a whim.
One of the reasons I didn’t mind paying a bit extra than my initial budget for this particular item was that I wanted to make sure the recorder was solid. I wasn’t sure where I’d be taking it, where it’d be stowed during certain conversations, if it’d get dropped, etc. I wanted to make sure if I was going to be buying a real recorder it was going to be around for awhile.
So far so good. It seems incredibly well-built. I haven’t thrown it around too much, but it has gotten banged a bit in my travels without any catastrophic failure.
As far as functionality, it’s pretty simple. It has play and recording functions, with a display that lets you know what you have selected. The display screen is, oddly enough, not back-lit. It’s pretty strange and makes recording at night a pain. I have to use my phone light to see the screen! Really weird to see that nowadays.
The ability to store audio files and play them besides what I’ve recorded is actually kind of nice. I can throw my podcasts and music on it as well whenever I want so I don’t need to waste my phone’s battery. It comes with 4 GB of internal storage with a slot for a memory card if you want to add more. This equals to being something like 1070+ hours of audio. More than you’ll ever need.
The microphone is built in but has a port for an external mic if you so wish. I, personally, had no issue with the built in microphone. But, the option is there if you need it. Nice.
The unit operates on 2 AAA batteries. I’m not sure the total battery life because I’m still on my first set of batteries. It’s a long time is what I’m saying. It’s kind of nice not having to rely on constantly dying and recharging lithium ions like in my phone. I forgot what that was like.
My baseline for this is against audio recording apps on phones. If you notice I’ve been comparing this device to a phone a lot. That’s because this thing doesn’t have any functionality a phone doesn’t have, but what it specializes in it does much better.
The sound quality of what I record on this is incredibly clear. The wind doesn’t get in the way, I can hear every syllable of every word even when outdoors. That’s a big jump from what I was used to while experimenting with my phone.
It doesn’t compare to a real condenser microphone and I definitely wouldn’t use it for recording music. But for speech, it is absolutely excellent and really is a helpful tool for brainstorming and remembering important bits of conversation.
I would say this is a good product. It’s not for everybody. But I could see it being a great alternative for college students instead of taking notes during a lecture or for those with office jobs needing to remember key points during meetings.
For me, it’s been great at knowing how dumb and sometimes brilliant the things my friends and I say. Nothing too great has come from it yet, but I’m happy to be able to go back and listen to these conversations.
It’s definitely a niche product. Was $45 USD worth it? To me, yes. I’m not 100% sure a $20 unit would have been worse though.
I can guarantee it’s better than a phone recorder in almost every way, besides the display on the thing. That’s really the worst part of it. It’s hard to fathom cheapening out on a backlit LCD screen in this day and age, but oh well I guess everything has to have a downside.
Go for the SONY ICD PX333 Digital Voice Recorder if you have the extra budget for it and you like relistening to conversations or just want life to have a replay button. Otherwise, stick with a cheaper unit or even your phone if you don’t think you’ll get as much use out of it as me.