SONY ICD-TX650 DIGITAL STEREO RECORDER
I've had this unit for some months now and the reason I got it initially was many fold. Failing memory, paranoia and safety to name a few. I was looking for a virtually invisible unit to record stuff with voice activation and good battery life.

A thousand and one uses develop as one realises the unit's value. Slide it into a pocket-top with the attached clip, jeans, jacket, jumper-top, inside pocket, wherever you like really - and start recording. Simply press the quick-start record button and by default it records in voice activation mode.

The unit serves mainly as a reminder after appointments as to what's been said, for me. A doctor's appointment, bank manager, travel agent, telephone call (with phone on loud speaker), lectures and talks, live music and loads more. Not to catch anyone out. Not to entrap anyone. (Though various organisations are happy enough to record us, these days! You can always tell people you're recording if you want to. Organisations worth their salt won't object.)

The real purpose though is as a reminder. A memo. Get home and remind yourself of the details of an exchange. Instructions from your GP. Flight or train times. So many times we don't make a note of stuff and have to double check later because of information overload and poorly exercised memory.

This recorder, made by Sony, is a beautiful little device. Half an inch wide, 3 inches long and stealthily thin. Made of mostly metal it feels like the usual Sony class of device. You can record multiple (4000) files, name them how you want, use .mp3, .wma, .acc or .wav format onto the huge 16GB internal memory (no expansion, but you really don't need more!) and battery is good for 15hrs recording. That, using voice activation of course, is usually over several days and loads of appointments. MicroUSB charges the built in battery in no time.

There's some PCLink software to run on Windows or Mac if you really want a desktop front-end, but it's really not needed with drag and drop once plugged in. It's got a bright white readout on an OLED dot-matrix display to navigate the settings and file/folder structure, which can be small, given the size of the device of course, so take your glasses! Navigation is controlled by various buttons - yes, hardware! - Options, up/down, play, pause, volume up/down, back/home, record etc.

The built-in speaker is woeful, but that's incredibly misleading. When the files are played back over a decent speaker or supplied headphones, it really is top quality. There are various 'scene' settings for recording in different situations and the ones I've tested all seem to work as they should. The stereo microphones ensure good sound assisted by various filters and smart noise cutting software. There's also a nice little classy leather pouch included and if you really want to, you can use it as an .mp3 player for music!

I've tested the recording out and about and in the car. If you place device on your lapel or top of shirt pocket, collar or jumper it records just fine. On voice activation it seems to do well working out when to start and stop. If you adjust the settings it will record across a lecture hall OK but best pointed at the source in that situation, not placed on clothing and not on voice activation. Range of pickup seems to be good for 30 feet or more. The quality of the recording is excellent and with a little post-editing, would even be good enough for podcasting.

It's not the cheapest option, but it oozes Sony class. You can find significantly cheaper plastic models but none with the range of features, quality of recording and construction, battery life and miniscule size for what it's capable of executing. Currently about £80. Highly recommended.
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