Olympus DS-4000 Voice Recorder review

Small and sleek, this chrome wrapped beauty weighs just 103g, including the battery pack and is perfect for the suit pocket. The top spec voice recorder from Olympus' pro line series isn't just a pretty face however and the DS-4000 is packed with features. Even better, it can be used with both Windows and Mac operating systems.
Utilising the slide button style from tape-based recorders, the DS-4000 is easy to use, but supports personalisation and has some impressive editing features. Designed with the benefit of end user feedback, Olympus has included programmable buttons on the face of the unit, removable memory card and the ability to speedily access, edit and add to, existing DSS folders. Thanks to short-cut buttons, key comments within a file or folder can be flagged for attention. The docking cradle even doubles as a microphone- ingenious.

The docking station also acts as a charger for the NiMH battery, which lasts approximately 20/12 hours for recording and playback respectively. In an emergency you can pop in a couple of standard AA cells for 15 hours recording and 10 hours playback. Allow for some variation as you move between SP and LP modes though. When using the included 32MB xD-Picture card, expect a 5-hour recording time from short and 11 hours from long play. However, with a 512MB card you can up this to a stonking 179.5 hours recording time- enough for even the most drawn out conference.

With up to 11 folders available, holding a maximum of 199 files in each, onboard storage is unsurpassed for a voice recorder. When near a computer, dictate direct to hard disc via USB, or connect to Mac or PC using the DSS Player Pro software (v.4).

Also included in the standard package are leather case, USB rechargeable docking station and DC adaptor. Everything you need to maximise efficiency, sound quality and style.

Verdict

At £410, it's not cheap, but look what you get for your money. Small, stylish innovation with the familiarity of a tape based machine- and Olympus don't scrimp on the extras. Sure, the accessory kit with the foot pedal is another £200, but this can live in the office and be shared between users. The standard bundle will be enough for most office users. The integration across computer platform is seamless with excellent results on Windows 98/Mac OS9 and above. Is it worth the outlay? We think so, but only for the hardened conference and dictation king.