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The Olympus J300 Pearlcorder is an analog, handheld dictaphone that has all the essential features you would need from a recording device. It has voice-activated recording or you can leave the tape running, depending on what suits your needs. I use my device mostly for recording university lectures and have found that voice-activated recording isn't as good for this because it isn't as instant as I would like it to be. This may be because it uses cassettes and so there's about a second delay between activation and recording, hence it tends to miss the first word in a sentence. This isn't so much of a problem when I am recording my own thoughts/ideas as I make sure I talk slower to accomodate for this, but with lecturers I find it causes unnecessary problems so I leave the tape running throughout.
The quality of the recordings aren't great, they sound slightly muffled. Again, this isn't a problem when recording by myself in a quiet room, but in lectures I have to sit near the front of the lecture hall otherwise it can be difficult to properly hear what was said. Don't get me wrong, it records just fine, and I haven't recording anything that I wasn't able to hear afterwards, it's just that the clarity of the recordings could be better. This is probably to be expected though as it is an old, analog device.
One thing I like about this product is that you can double the amount of time you get on a tape by switching the speed that it records, so you can turn an hour long tape into a two hour tape. This doesn't affect the recording in any way so it is a bonus feature. It is small and light enough to fit in your pocket, though won't leave space for anything else. If you have a handbag or rucksack then this will take up hardly any space. It comes in its own leather carrying case, which keeps it clean and unscratched. The volume can be turned quite loud and it has a perfectly good speaker, or you can plug in your earphones if you are in the library, for example.
A negative of this device is that you have no way of knowing when the batteries are going to run out, which can cause problems if you are recording something important. I have a spare pack of AAA batteries with me just in case. I usually have to change the batteries every 1 1/2 to 2 weeks and I would say I get between 14 - 16 hours use out of them.
Voice-activated Requires 2 AAA batteries Dual tape speed function 129g weight and 116x54x21 (WxHxD) Requires plenty of tapes if seeing constant use Sound quality = average
I would recommend this device if you aren't too bothered about sound quality and just want something fairly cheap that will record your thoughts etc. It is basic and easy to use. I've had it at least 5 years and it still works fine.
However, if you are going to be using your device regularly and in a professional environment then I would suggest a digital recorder, which would have the advantage of better recordings and also being able to easily transfer your material onto a computer without having to worry about how many tapes you have and how often they will be filled up.
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