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The Pocket Recorder: For Students and Professionals

Updated on September 27, 2011

Choosing a Pocket Recorder

A dedicated voice or pocket recorder can be very useful for a number of tasks. Certainly professionals can still use them for dictation and students can use them for note taking. Those in need of something better than their own memory to recall important details can also find them invaluable. These devices may also be handy for musicians. In addition, anyone who creates audio products to upload online may find them to be an absolute necessity.

These pocket recorders are small and portable enough to assure you can take them anywhere with absolutely no hassle. You can learn more about some of their features and see some popular models below.

Getting the Right Device

The devices on this page are all digital voice recorders; the most popular type of pocket recorder. Before you select one, there are a few things to consider:

  • Recording
    First consider how long of a recording you can get. Some may capture 50 minutes of audio and others 300 hours of audio. Know what it is you'll be recording so that the device's capabilities match up. Some devices may give you a certain amount of storage built in but also have a card slot to allow you to expand that storage.

    The amount of storage space you need will also be dependent upon the recording mode used. If recording quality doesn't need to be high, then SP (standard play) may be sufficient. SP mode will use far less storage space than LP (long play) or HQ (high quality) modes. However, if outstanding sound quality will be necessary for producing products from your recording, transcribing, and so forth, HQ may be necessary.

    Good battery life is important too since you'll need the device to run without stopping as long as you need to be recording. Consider charging time as well if this is critical; options may include AC power, charging via a docking station, or a PC USB connection. A pocket recorder that can take a full charge in a couple of hours is much more convenient than one that takes several hours.

    You'll also want to consider file format when considering recording abilities. For instance, .dss (digital speech standard) format is great for improved voice audio quality and is therefore a good choice for dictating. You may want WAV and MP3 for music.
  • Sound Quality
    Beyond file format you also want to consider the microphones. Stereo microphones will get better sound that a mono microphone. Detachable microphones give you the ability to get the microphone closer to the sound source in many situations. Having a microphone jack lets you add a better mic. Of course when listening, having headphones can help, so a device with a headphone jack, especially one that will support stereo is good also. Volume control and indicators to help you monitor and adjust recording levels are useful as well.
  • Editing
    For basic editing, simply having a pocket recorder with a "review" button can be useful, but in most instances when using a one of these devices, editing would be done on the computer. Therefore, if you will be editing, you want to be sure the device/recording format will be compatible with your computer. Aside from editing, your computer is a place to store previous recordings if desired.
  • Durability
    Some pocket voice recorders have a plastic body but others are built for heavier use and have a metal body.
  • Other features
    Pocket recorders that allow users to play recordings at a slower or faster rate are particularly useful for transcription purposes.

    Some of these devices may include an alarm playback function that can wake you or provide a reminder at a specified time.

    Some may offer additional safety features to assure there is no unauthorized access to your files/recordings. Some offer file encryption and password locks.

    Many of them help you to organize your recordings. They allow you to create folders for your files where you can archive/index them for easy retrieval. These devices may offer a backlit display screen to show critical information like recording length, client names, and so forth. Some pocket recorders are designed for professional work groups. They may come with transcription software and allow multiple users to have individual password ID's, send files to an e-mail address, and more to streamline workflow.

    Voice activation is a good feature to save on battery life and can make transcription easier. Some of these devices can also handle documents and image files as well.


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    • reddog1027 profile image

      reddog1027 8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      What a great idea. Just what I need to compensate for being absent minded!

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      I wish I had one of these when I worked with the boss from hell. Nice Hub.