Olympus WS-200 digital voice recorder review
When was the last time you actually wrote something down, or went to a meeting and took notes, only to get bored halfway through and result to drawing doodles on the page instead? Olympus voice, is hoping that you'll see the light and opt for one of its new digital voice recorders.
The WS-200 is your middle of the range voice recorder that doesn't sing out with exciting features, but merely gets the job done. The lightweight unit (54g) which fits comfortably in the palm of your hand offers access to the usual array of features at the press of a button.
The buttons are arranged down the side, making it easy to operate with your thumb whilst holding the device, however the labelling can be confusing at times and on more than one occasion we found ourselves pressing the volume button instead of the rewind.
The WS-200 has three playback modes; slow, normal and double speed. The slow makes enough of a difference for a touch typist to type out an interview without having to result in stopping it all the time, while the double speed option allows to you get through the boring bits. The results can be played either through the included headphones or via the small speaker on the front of the model.
The unit itself is broken down into two parts: a battery compartment (which takes a single AAA battery) and the recorder itself. Battery life is around 10 hours more than enough for the average meeting and information is stored on a flash drive so it won't be lost when the battery dies. The recorder, when separated from the battery compartment, reveals a USB 2.0 connector and plugs straight into a USB socket on your PC or Mac.
The inclusion of a USB plug in the device makes for easy transfer of the files to and from your computer and you can even use the device's 128Mb of memory to drag and drop files to carry around with you.
The WS-200 has four recording modes: SHQ and HQ mode for superior sound, SP and LP for extended recording and according to the specs the 128Mb is enough to store 54 hours in Long Play or 4hr 20min in Stereo High Quality, enough for any board meeting. You can arrange up to 199 files very easily into each of the five preset folders to be accessed at a later date.
When it comes to saving your recordings, it seems Olympus has finally dumped its own file format that it had included in a number of digital voice recorders to date and gone for the more friendly WMA format which can be easily played back via Windows Media Player. Of course adopting this format over MP3 does give Mac users a headache but at least it's a step in the right direction.
Aside from the rewind/volume button issues we had, this is a very solid voice recorder that shows Olympus hasn't totally lost its touch in the voice recorder market. The move to WMA will be welcomed by PC users as it means you aren't reliant on Olympus software to get the job done. Combine this with the ability to just plug it in to a computer and drag the files across and the WS-200 is as easy as pie to use.