Students who don't want to miss a moment of lecture info. Business high-flyers who need to make sure every second of a fast-moving meeting is recorded. Freelance writers wanting to be certain their interviewees have every confidence the finished article carries their point across accurately.
There are so many reasons why a digital voice recorder is a solid investment. While you can use the likes of dictaphone software apps on a phone to achieve what might seem a similar result, a portable digital voice recorder is able to offer clarity in sound quality, noise cancelling, and all-round versatility that a smartphone solution simply can't match.
These devices are big business for big names, too. While there's plenty of specialist tech that goes into an Olympus voice recorder, other electronics giants have their own solutions to provide as well. For every specialist bit of kit out there, there's an equally capable Sony voice recorder or Samsung voice recorder that leans on those companies' capabilities in sound, electronics and overall clever design to make the best digital voice recorders around.
Wincing while you reach for your wallet? No need. A decent dictaphone doesn't need to cost an arm and a leg – in fact, you may well be surprised how affordable digital voice recorders can be.
How to transfer audio from a digital voice recorder?
Using a dictaphone nowadays makes it easy to transfer voice recordings from your digital voice recorder to your computer. Many models come equipped with a USB connector right there on the device – in fact, some specialist dictaphone models today effectively are USB thumb drives that record audio.
Others take MicroSD cards you can easily connect to your computer – many types of Sony or Samsung voice recorder have this function, while also having a few gigabytes of internal storage of their own too.
It's often as simple as connecting your digital voice recorder to your computer via USB cable or built-in adaptor and dragging the files you want off the device and onto your hard drive. Forget the miniature cassette tapes you might remember from an old school dictaphone – we're way past that now!
Most modern digital voice recorders have LCD screens too, which makes it easier than ever to see which voice files are where, and arrange them accordingly.
What makes a good digital voice recorder?
As with anything, trusted brands are always a good shout – Samsung voice recorders pack plenty of ingenuity into a compact package, and Olympus voice recorders are the sort professional audio fans tend to go for thanks to their reliability, longevity and innovation.
A good amount of internal storage – think four gigabytes and upwards – is always a plus point in digital voice recorders. However, you can also see if that memory can be expanded in some way, such as via MicroSD card.
Features such as noise cancellation, voice-activated recording so that you never miss a statement, automatic volume adjustment for different voices that are recorded softer or louder than one another, and overall portability are all good things to watch for in your digital voice recorder purchase.
It's easy to overlook some details too, of course – which batteries they take or whether it's a rechargeable lithium ion battery, for example, or whether or not your dictaphone can use a 3.5mm audio socket for headphones when you listen back. However, digital voice recorders are getting more fully featured than ever as companies compete, so you're likely to find a fantastic machine even if your budget is below £100.
The digital voice recorders under £100 that we love
Getting up and running with your new dictaphone is a breeze. Here are a few recommendations we're sure will help you make the most informed decision on which digital voice recorder is right for you!
If all this technological talk has you crying out for the good old days when things just had buttons and everything just worked, this Olympus voice recorder is a fantastic and affordable option.
Styled like an old analogue dictaphone, right down to the button and speaker placements, the Olympus VN 7200 takes two AAA batteries, which will last for over 80 hours of recording time. That's plenty of dictation, and luckily the storage on this Olympus voice recorder is up to the task – you can record up to 1,151 hours of audio on the two gigabytes of internal storage.
The VN 7200 also lets you switch between three recording modes to suit the occasion, ranging from SP and LP modes to a higher quality mode that offers the biggest file sizes, but the most impressive clarity of sound. Voice activated recording options and indexing that lets you place digital bookmarks in important points of a given recording round out a fantastic Olympus voice recorder.
Ever reliable Philips technology steps up to offer four gigabytes of storage, hands-free use and an included USB cable for file backups with the DVT 1200. Emphasising ease of use, this digital voice recorder keeps you up to speed moment to moment with a clear, concise LCD screen – which also has a backlight to aid visibility.
There's enough internal storage here to get up to 44 days straight of recording onto this digital voice recorder by Philips, and as you'd expect from the name, there aren't any shortcuts taken on quality here either. In fact, you can even use the ports on top of this dictaphone to plug in headphones or an external microphone.
Four gigabytes not enough? Get up to 32 gigabytes more then – MicroSD card compatibility ensures that you're able to boost how much you can record with your Philips DVT 1200, making this a device fit for long-term use.
Make no mistake, Sony voice recorders offer some of the best audio quality in the business – and paying less for a more budget-friendly one like this doesn't make that any less true.
The ICDPX240 is a Sony voice recorder that's big on visual clarity. The LCD screen shows a no-hassle readout of everything you need to know, from recording times to volume levels. That big screen doesn't mean a speaker that skimps on sound quality though, and you're able to get some impressive volume out of this digital voice recorder thanks to its mono 300mW speaker.
You can still plug in a microphone or headphones through the usual ports on this dictaphone, of course, and you'll also get over 30 hours of recording life out of two AAA batteries. With four gigabytes of internal storage, and easy connectivity to a PC to move MP3 files back and forth, this Sony voice recorder packs plenty into just 72 grams. Plus you can organise files on the device itself through its easy menus, too.