Olympus WS-100 voice recorder
When was the last time you actually wrote something down, 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-100 is the younger brother to the WS-200 and is pro-typical 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 while 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 like the WS-200 the WS-100 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 live 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 64Mb of memory (half that of the WS-200) to drag and drop files to carry around with you.
To offer the same recording time as the WS-200 albeit with a smaller memory the WS-100 has 3 Recording Modes: HQ mode for superior sound, SP and LP for extended recording and according to the specs the 64Mb is enough to store 27 hours 20mins in Long Play or 4hr 20min in Stereo High Quality, enough for any board meeting and 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 offer hassles for Mac users but at least it's a step in the right direction.
VerdictAside from the rewind/volume button issues we had, this is a very solid voice recorder that shows Olympus hasn't 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.
For £20 you lose 64Mb of storage space and a recording mode, which is a lot for not a lot of cash. Our advice: Spend the extra money and get the bigger model.