Cheap But Not Nasty – The Best Budget Digital Voice Recorders

On a budget, short of cash, funds a bit low, boss won’t spend big on technology? Then do Philips and Olympus Voice have a cheap digital voice recorder for you.

The range of digital voice recorders on offer from the two big boys, Olympus & Philips, can be a little bewildering to the average person. With Olympus alone having a range of around fifteen digital voice recording devices starting at the AU$99 (VN-8500PC) and going all the way up to AU$945 (DM-5000iD) the consumer can be forgiven for being a little overwhelmed by the choice.

At the bottom of the pile, in a nice way, are the cheap budget digital voice recorders (note takers) which range from AU$99 to AU$129. These are the most basic of voice recorders but will get you by if you are pinching pennies or do not require all the features and functions that some of the more mainstream recorders provide. Your typical lower end digital voice recorder still however picks up and records pretty good audio. They would not be recommended for important board meetings, focus groups and even sound bites if you are a journalist. But if you are looking to record informal chats, your strumming on a guitar, family oral history recordings and at a push lectures and the like, then these digital recorders will be of interest to you.

What You Get:

  • Simple, easy to use recording
  • Mac & Windows compatible recorders
  • .MP3 or .WMA (Windows Media Audio) Recording
  • Digital note taking

What You Don’t Get:

  • A digital dictaphone
  • High quality, high bit rate stereo recording
  • Background noise filtering
  • Mic Level adjustment
  • PCM Recording
  • Mic adjustment – Wide/Narrow/Zoom
  • Software for editing, adding notes, sending etc
  • Large amounts of memory for storage
  • This list would go on and on

So lets take a look at what Olympus and Philips have to offer in their budget range, both have two recorders…

Philips Digital Voice Tracer LFH0612 & LFH0632

From Philips there is the Digital Voice Tracer, DVT for short, models LFH0612 and LFH0632. You would be hard pushed to spot the difference between these two recorders other than the obvious colour. Both have 1Gb of memory, 3 recording modes (HQ, SP, SLP) and both record .mp3 audio files. The only difference we can find is that the LFH0632 has a voice volume indicator whereas the LFH0612 does not. Both units last around 15-20 hours of recording off the 2x AAA batteries.

Olympus VN-8500PC & VN-8600PC

From Olympus we have the VN-8500PC and the VN-8600PC. These little beauties you can tell the difference between on the spec sheet, although interestingly not to look at (unless you look closely and you will see that the VN-8500PC has a narrower speaker grill than the VN-8600PC). The key differences between these two are; VN-8500PC only records in .WMA (can be painful on a Mac) whereas the VN-8600PC records in your choice of .WMA or .MP3. VN-8500PC only has 1Gb of memory whereas the VN-8600PC doubles up with 2Gb of memory giving you longer maximum recording times. Olympus claim to get 51 hours of usage out of the 2x AAA batteries.

Most who buy these recorders would be hard pressed to find much difference between them, alot would be swayed by brand loyalty. Are you a Philips person or an Olympus person?

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