Dedicated Voice Recorders vs. Smart Phones


I’m definitely one of those people who is annoyingly attached to his smart phone. My BlackBerry goes everywhere with me. I can’t fathom living a productive and fruitful life without it by my side. With each generation of device we find ourselves holding productivity tools that become more convergent, mostly due to the wide availability of applications. But just how good is that tool for everything you do? You’ve probably heard some folks say, “why do I need to get a point-and-shoot camera when I have a phone with a built-in 5 megapixel camera that allows me to edit and post to Facebook within seconds?”  Well, I’m starting to hear the same thing about digital recorders.

People looking to thin-out the number of devices they’re willing to carry are starting to rely more on their phones for dictation. How good are those built-in recorders? It really depends on your needs. If you only dabble in occasional dictation then convenience may trump performance. But if you’re a road warrior who relies on dictation as a productivity tool you may need to step up your gear.

Recently, Jon Peddie of Jon Peddie Research, took our DM-420 for a spin against his iPhone and provided us with a full review of his findings. You can check out his entire review, but I’ll provide you with a few highlights:

Transcription Test:

Using Dragon Naturally Speaking to transcribe his dictation, John found that both the DM-420 and iPhone performed pretty well. The iPhone recorded a 354-word document and transcribed it with 12 errors while the DM-420 logged 15 errors. These were measured against a control using a direct input mic which logged only five errors. Bottom line, if you’re using Dragon Naturally Speaking to transcribe, either one if these devices is going to work well for you. This is a testament to the software.

Battery Test:

You all know what to expect here. We’ve got too much going on with our smart phones to expect any reasonable battery life for this kind of application. While recording a presentation, John’s iPhone battery ran down in two hours. Any dedicated voice recorder is going to give you a ton more time, and space, with which to record.

Eyes Free:

For the folks who dictate regularly, here’s where the rubber meets the road. If you’re doing business on the go, having a dedicated recording device is a must. In addition to superior sound quality and storage, these devices are intuitive and easy to use. It’s as simple as record, stop & play. Smart phones just don’t offer the kind of simplicity that allows you to get to a recording app quickly and safely, for example, dictating while driving. Plus, many of these phones aren’t quite built for multi-tasking. If you need to take a call during a long presentation you’re running the risk of losing your audio.

For general purpose recording, such as lectures or quick notes, either type of device is sufficient. However, if you’re on the road a lot or require high quality audio, there just aren’t any smart phones out there that can compete with a dedicated voice recorder.

Desperately seeking bird calls!


It has become quite evident in my time managing this blog that many of our loyal customers are birding enthusiasts. That being the case I’d really like to build up a collection of bird songs to share with everyone. The only problem is that I know absolutely nothing about birds except for the fact that they fly and they seem to hate my car. I’d go out and record some bird songs myself but, honestly, it would make for a pitifully inaccurate collection. So I wanted to recruit all of you Olympus owners out there to help me build my catalog of bird songs. And, yes, there’s something in it for you.

If you provide me with an audio file, photo of the bird you captured and identify which Olympus recorder you used I will credit you on the blog and provide you with a one-time-use discount code that you can use on our Friends of Olympus website. These codes are good for up to 20% off all products on the site from recorders to cameras to accessories. This is a limited time offer. I will only be giving out these codes until October 15, 2011 so hurry up and get those submissions in. Please submit all inquiries and submissions to olympusaudio@gmail.com