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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Size: 2 GB|Colour Name: Grey|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
"There's an app for that." Yes, and the question the prospective purchaser needs to ask is this: why should I spend £50+ on a new device when my smartphone already has voice recording and speech recognition built in to its operating system?

The answer is that you have to consider the advantages this dedicated digital voice recorder offers over a smartphone. Here are a few:

- It's very small and light - it weighs just over 70 grams and is the size of a small candybar phone.
- You won't need to keep it on charge. Two AAA batteries are claimed to last for 100 hours of use.
- You can lend it to someone else, so a small office could keep one for general use. You wouldn't do that with your phone.
- It has a decent noise-cancelling microphone, together with dedicated mic and earphone sockets. The recording quality is very good.
- It comes with a copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS) 12 (recorder edition) and has a dedicated DNS recording mode.
- Dedicated buttons, rather than a touchscreen, so no accidental swipes and taps.

On the other hand:

- The styling is 80s-retro and it feels plasticky in the hand. It looks businesslike enough, though.
- The user interface is also 80s-retro. There is no way of naming anything, so your recordings will be stored in folders A-E and be numbered from 1-200. If you want to find a specific recording, you'll have to hunt for it.
- The integration with DNS is pretty rudimentary.
- DNS needs training to work well. You'll be making a lot of corrections to your transcribed text, especially in the early days.
- There is no security. Lose the device and anyone who finds it can play all the contents.
- Only supports Windows PCs and the WMA file format.

My advice is to see if you can borrow one and try it for a day or two. You may be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to use, once you've got accustomed to it. It just takes a little time.
11 comment| 67 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Size: 2 GB|Colour Name: Grey|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've used quite a few voice recorders in my time and what I like about this one is how easy it is to get to grips with even without looking at the instructions, for the most part I find it to be very intuitive. I'm also impressed with the energy efficiency/management of this DVR (Digital Voice Recorder); this is important because I've got over 14 hours of recording and played it all back again and I'm still showing the battery full symbol, this compares extremely favourably with a previous DVR I had at the end of last year Sony ICDBX132 BX Series 2GB Voice Recorderwhere the battery life just seemed to evaporate even when it wasn't being used.

This DVR is so lightweight that with batteries fitted it still only weighs 2.5 ounces and although it's made of plastic it doesn't feel 'plasticky' (in the cheap sense). The quality of recording is very good, I have mine set permanently on WMA 64 kbps (the other options are 32 kbps mono and 5 kbps mono) - but these 3 recording level options are only available if the DNS (Dragon Naturally Speaking) recording setting is not selected. It's also easy to scroll backwards and forwards through recordings. Transferring recordings to a PC is also very simple and is done via the mini USB cable supplied. All in all, I highly recommend it.

However, this package also comes with a pared down version of Dragon dictate, it says the set up for it is quick but it's not; just reading the selected text for the software to recognise my talking style took 25 minutes, and about the same again for it to 'self-train'. I've used Dragon before, with good results, and this updated version is even more accurate in converting talk to text but this is a specially produced DVR version of the software, therefore, it will only convert to text anything that's been spoken into the DVR, there is no facility (unless you upgrade to the full package) to convert talk to text directly via a microphone connected to the PC.

But what I mainly dislike about the DNS (Dragon Naturally Speaking) DVR software is the interface; it seems awkward and cumbersome on my PC, which is running Windows 8.1. I find it fiddly to access and in comparison with the DVR itself lacks the smoothness of being 'intuitive'. With time, as with everything else, it will become easier to use but at this stage I'm not that keen on it.

Nonetheless, that doesn't detract from the quality, practicality and functionality of the DVR which really impresses me, so it still gets 5 stars.
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on 15 February 2015
I bought this for my Masters' research and it is brilliant. It's very easy to use, it picks up sound really well and plays in high quality. I've even used it in my Manx Gaelic classes, where it picks up the subtle intonations necessary for idiomatic fluency really well. If you're going to be transcribing, as I have been, it can be difficult to stop/start all the time and this model is seemingly incompatible with any foot-based control pedals. However, you could easily ship the sound files onto your PC and use PC-based systems. Useful features are the playback speed, hold function, easy control and the Scene Calendar which allows you to access recordings by date.
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on 15 July 2015
I bought this primarily to record conversations with family on family history. However, as a keen photographer, I started using it to record things such as bird song to accompany photos. Then we attended a wedding, where I recorded much of the event and created video slideshows mixing photos with video recorded using my camera. The sound quality was pretty good for something so tiny. It is discreet and easy to use and proved to be remarkably reliable. The tiny AAA batteries last a long time (a new set (good make) lasted for all the wedding festivities plus the day before and they are still going strong). I added my own mini sd card which was supplied with an adaptor card and that means that I can transfer my recording simply to my computer as easily as transferring photos. I am absolutely delighted with my purchase.

I have struggled a bit with the menu settings - but then I rarely change them so I am not yet accustomed to the pathways to alter settings. However, based on my experience, I would wholeheartedly recommend this little recorder.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 March 2016
I bought this to replace what was basically an older (and now obsolete) version of this, also an Olympus, so I pretty much knew what I was getting.

Its intuitive to use, has several folders to keep things separate (if you need to) and - this is the important bit for me - is equipped with a USB port so I can transfer files to a computer, MP3 player or any number of other electronic devices.

My main use is as a judge at dog shows where I record a critique of the winning dogs for typing up into a report for the press a few days later. I could do this on my smartphone of course, but I like the idea of having a unit just dedicated to one purpose which has simple buttons to use. I have tried my phone before, but the complexity of going through touch screens to find the recorder, then going back to it a while later to find that its timed out is a bit fiddly and this is much easier - and therefore less risky - and makes sure I don't miss/delete or otherwise make a hash of things!

I've also used it for music recordings (I play in a big band) and whilst its not stereo, if positioned correctly the recording quality is not bad at all - even though its obviously not designed for this.

Olympus is a well known brand and the quality is as expected from such a prestigious name.
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Size: 4 GB|Colour Name: Silver|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an easy-to-use digital voice recorder, that offers some significant advantages over using your mobile phone, not least the large internal memory (which can be boosted with memory cards) and long battery life. That said, the recording quality, while better than you'd expect from using your mobile phone, isn't particularly brilliant. I have tried dictating short paragraphs for use with Dragon NaturallySpeaking (for which there is a dedicated setting) and the results are mixed, but not unusable. So you won't be using this for anything more than note taking.

It's also worth pointing out that the USB cable is very short. It's obvious that Olympus have it in mind that you'll be using a laptop, but if you are using a desktop PC, the device will be left hanging in the air. Fortunately it is very light, so this isn't too big a problem. The other irritation is that when the device is connected to your PC via USB it cannot be used at all, even if you have 'ejected' it from the PC. This means you cannot save the batteries by running the voice recorder on your PC's power.
0Comment| 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 July 2014
I wanted something which I could use when I go to choir practice as I forget the harmony's. This is perfect, picks up everything and is very discreat. Lots of different folders on it so I can organize my songs, and the recording is very clear. Wonderful!
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on 17 December 2014
Wonderfull recorder. I recorded a speech in a big hall with a seating capacity of 600 people sitting at the far end of the hall. I guess recorder picked up the best of the sound from the speaker. Recording was as clear as it would be when placed closed to the person. Definitely recommend, and the added benefit of extending the space with a micro SD card means that i don't need to delete anything i want to keep. Its compatible and easily workable with Mac!!!! :)
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VINE VOICEon 16 May 2014
Size: 2 GB|Colour Name: Grey|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A cracking piece of kit - more later.

Only 4 stars? Software was a nightmare to install on Windows and no equivalent complimentary software for Mac OS - an expensive optional purchase.

Bad points first. There are only two.

The guide states that the device can be used with Mac OS but the disk that arrived with the device only contained Windows software. It's a pity because my MacBook beats my PC hands down speed wise and they both have similar processors and RAM. I could have purchased software for use on my MacBook but it's expensive.

The second bad point is installation. I abandoned the installation after 35 minutes - I had to go out. The drive, which reads and writes a variety of formats and disks (CD, DVD and Lightscribe) had trouble reading the accompanying software disk. I tried the disk in several other computers with the same results so clearly not a drive issue. Just a lot of squeaks as if the drive was trying to read a bad disk and yet there were no marks on the disk. I put it down to a bad pressing at the disk copier. maybe a bad batch. No equivalent download from the Nuance website.

Now the good points... there are many.

For what it does, it is incredibly tiny. The version I received has 2GB of flash RAM and can record hundreds of hours of speech.

You begin by training the software to recognise your voice. In the past, I trained the system by repeating words displayed on the screen several times and the software worked out a general sample but this was not always accurate and it was very, very boring.

Training has moved on. You select one of a range of texts that take between 10 and 20 minutes to read. Mine took about 14 minutes, it was the inaugural speech of John F Kennedy. (I resisted the urge to impersonate his accent.) The reason for this reading is to establish your speech patterns including phonemes and cadence, i.e. the sounds of the word structures and the speed and rhythm at which you speak.

The passage you select should be read in a normal tone, at a normal speed as if you were speaking to a group of people. Speed is important but not as important as accuracy. You can print your chosen passage and you might want to read portions of it first to familiarise yourself. You can read the passage from the screen if you choose (I did - Save The Trees!) but you read it into the device. Set the device to Dictation, point the microphone towards your mouth and hold it in your hand or use the clever stand that flips out.

Once you have finished reading the passage, you connect the device to your computer and the software analyses your speech against the passage you selected and makes the necessary adjustments to recognising your voice. Then your speech profile is complete. Additional speech profiles can be recorded and analysed so that several people can share the device.

Speech recognition is rarely 100% accurate and this is no exception but it is consistently high and the quality of the recordings at the Normal Quality is very good, even set in meeting mode. The setting profile allows the device to become more sensitive or less sensitive depending on the environment.

In the box you get the recorder, a short USB cable to connect it to your computer, a basic manual for the recorder (three models are referenced), the licence code for Dragon Naturally Speaking, a discount coupon for upgrading to version 12 of the software. Batteries ARE included - yep, two AAA batteries are there to get you up and running quickly.

I find the included software to be sufficient for purpose and it is accurate.

You can choose to import the text to MS Office software or DragonPad, a proprietary text based editor. I have used it successfully in several meetings - make sure you get everyone's permission first - and it is great for taking notes if you have to write the minutes of a meeting.

Unfortunately, it will not transcribe the voices of everyone at the meeting into text - that's just not possible at the moment - but the novel you have always dreamed of writing is a step closer if you can just talk aloud - perhaps when you are travelling alone in your car.

All you need to do is say "Once upon a time..." and you'll live happily ever after as the speech turns into words and the words turn into a best-selling, blockbuster novel!

Highly recommended!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 April 2014
Size: 2 GB|Colour Name: Grey|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm reviewing both the Olympus VN-731PC and the Olympus VN-732PC together as they come from the same series and are virtually identical.

This review is not about the technical merits of either of these products; Olympus produces fine products generally so I won't quibble with that. But I have some specific needs for a hand-held voice recorder so let's see how they met MY expectations.

The Good
--------
Massive storage for voice memos; both units have massive amounts of in-built memory and you can add a microSD card if you're really taping War & Peace.

The VN-731 came with Dragon voice recognition software that can actually be used with both units - but beware, the version included ONLY reads the MP3 files and doesn't come with a facility to listen to the microphone on your PC - that requires a hefty upgrade fee.

Good battery life; after several hours leaving it on record I got bored but it showed that battery life was good (even on a brand new item where the battery hasn't been 'conditioned' yet).

VN-732 has a calendar feature so you can find your recording more easily. Worked well: I made that memo last Tuesday, where is it? Ah! there it is. Not so easy on the VN-731.

Recording quality excellent, and sensitivity the same - except when in a car (see below).

The Bad
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Too small for me. Look at the gazillion mobile phones out there, Olympus! They all have a similar size and dimension. You're recording devices are too small for my gorilla hands.

Too fiddly. To record you have to hit a small REC button. To stop you have to hit the STOP button. Seems obvious, right? Except when you're in a car what you want is a HUGE record/pause button and an equally huge STOP button and that's it. Perhaps a 'Roger beep' to indicate that recording is now ON.

Too noisy. Despite their claims, there is too much background noise recorded in my car (which isn't particularly noisy). The noise reduction facility is only available on their top-end model whereas I think it should be a standard feature on even their most entry-level product. This made it quite tiring to listen to my memos later on (so says my secretary).

Conclusion
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So for someone who wanted a memo-recording device for use almost exclusively in their car both these models failed. They were too fiddly to hold, to find the REC button and equally to turn it off again. The lack of noise reduction is a missed opportunity, in my view, for Olympus to stand head-and-shoulders above the competition, and their touted low frequency feature just doesn't cut the mustard.

For use in a car, avoid. For use recording lectures or meetings it could well meet your specific needs with high quality records and good sensitivity.

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