Olympus DM-20 Conference Kit review

A boss of mine once said that any meeting with more than three people in it isn’t worth attending - just wait for the notes to come through the internal mail. Olympus in an attempt to make note taking even easier has launched the DM-20 a top of the range voice recorder that comes with two stereo microphones and enough cable to service the largest of boardrooms.

The unit itself is of the brushed metal variety and the large black and green LCD display offers all the relevant recording and playback information. Playback and recording buttons adorn the side of the unit, ideal for comfortable usage when in the palm of your hand. On the rear of the unit is a hold button, music/voice button and a largish speaker. The unit is powered by two AAA batteries.

Inside, the unit offers enough storage space for 44 hours of voice recordings on Long Play or 44 minutes at the highest setting - still long enough for those all important meetings.

But the real selling point here isn’t the recording time but the addition of two stereo microphones that allow you to cover the majority of large boardrooms. Housed in the Conference kit are two stands to make things easier and the addition of a remote control. The remote control is a nice touch, although an infrared model would have been nicer to save even more trailing cables.

Out of the office environment and the DM20 attempts to be an MP3 player capable of storing up to 120minutes of music. However unlike the DM-1, Olympus has removed the removable storage option and therefore restricting the amount of storage available or the chance to benefit from your cameras memory stick in the same way devices like the Nikon Coolwalker and Fujifilm MP3 have. This is a strange omission from Olympus when cross-platforming seems to be the name of the game from most manufacturers these days.

Verdict

With five different recording modes, 16-hour battery life in “voice” mode and a very easy to use unit, the DM20 has everything going for it. The music option is just that, a nice option and you get the feeling that Olympus has included this because it can rather than because it needs to. It would have been nice to see a removable storage option like the previous model - the DM1, but you can’t have everything and Olympus’s choice to allow you to save to the WMA standard rather than there propriety DSS format is a big plus over previous players. At £500 pounds it might seem expensive, but if you’re in the market to buy one of these kits then chances are your going to expense it anyway. If it’s big meetings that need recording - this is your device for the job.