Sony ICD-UX80

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Sony ICD-UX80
  • Sony ICD-UX80
  • Sony ICD-UX80
  • Sony ICD-UX80

Pros

  • Digital pitch control, voice on record and easy search features, doubles as a storage device and MP3 player, compatible with Apple Macintosh and PC

Cons

  • Charges via USB but does not include a rechargeable battery

Bottom Line

It's more expensive than your average portable multimedia device of this size, but the ICD-UX80 sports a great deal of useful features. If you need a note taker and own a computer this could become a very handy tool. As far as note takers go it's not the most advanced, but it will cover most people's needs.

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Sony's ICD-UX80 personal recording device is definitely a niche product, and you have to pay for the specialisation, but what it does, it does well and is very compact to boot. It will even double as an MP3 player should you need a little entertainment.

The IC recorder UX80 is a flash memory-based device that looks very much like an MP3 player, but a little larger. It has a headphone jack, play controls and an LCD screen, but it also has a built-in stereo microphone and speaker, a microphone/line-in jack and the ability to record from just about any audio source. For example, you can record using the built-in microphone or plug in a better quality one. Alternatively you could plug in an audio source such as a tape player or any other device with a line-out (headphone jack)

Essentially it's a dictator, but works far better than a mini tape recorder. Remove a cap from one end and you'll expose the USB connection, allowing you to copy files to and from the device with a PC or notebook. By default there are five folders set up for voice recordings. Within each folder you can continue to make new recordings, allowing you to segregate sessions or topics.

A number of settings and features make this a useful device for professionals needing to make notes or record meetings and interviews. Voice on record (VOR) is a setting that automatically detects audio and begins to record. It works well, though it tends to miss the beginning of the first word you say. Of course, noisy environments are likely to trigger the VOR, which is where the microphone sensitivity comes into play. This can be set to high or low and significantly changes the responsiveness of the microphone to audio.

You can set the quality of the recordings to any of five quality settings that range from long-play mono recordings at 8Kbps to high-quality stereo recordings at 192Kbps. Naturally the latter uses up more memory and therefore less recordings can be made within the confines of the 2GB of memory.

Other useful playback tools include A to B loop buttons, allowing you to loop a section of your recording to transcribe it or listen to it in more detail. There is also a digital pitch control (DPC) feature that allows you to speed up the pitch and therefore the speed of playback, making it possible to fast forward while still listening to the recording. Similarly there is a feature called Easy Search, which changes the search button to skip forward 10 seconds and back 3 seconds, rather than scanning second by second. This helps you scan through long recordings to find a point or quote you're after. You can even set an alarm to play back recorded messages

There is the potential to record directly from a phone using a separate adapter that's not included. You can also purchase voice recognition software to transcribe your audio files once they're on a PC. Of course, beneath all of the features, the ICD-UX80 is just a USB drive and therefore it can be used as a storage device. It can also be used as an MP3 player. Simply drag and drop some MP3 music into one of the five folders and play them like you would any other recording. The pack includes some headphones, which are better for checking recording levels than listening to music with, but any headphone with a 3.5mm plug can be used.

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