If you're a journalist, a student, or anyone else who needs to record audio in the field fairly often, but you'd still like to slip on the headphones for some music once in a while, you might consider the US$199 Olympus WS-331M voice recorder.
Unlike most of the voice recorders of yesteryear, the flash-based WS-331M records to WMA, with six different quality settings, so that you can fit anywhere from 35 to 555 hours on the 2 GB device. A number of convenient recording functions are included: filters to reduce background noise, slow playback and selective looping (to make transcribing easier), timed recording and onscreen file management. None of these are new, but it's nice to have them all present.
When you switch from work to play, the WS-331M becomes a bit more rudimentary. You've got MP3 and WMA playback, onscreen track name and artist info and SRS WOW XT audio processing, but that's about it. Perhaps the best touch is that the WS-331M is recognized as a removable mass storage, so it's easy to move files back and forth between the recorder and a computer.
The WS-331M still isn't the perfect player/recorder hybrid, but it's a step in the right direction. Expect to see it on the shelves next month.
Digital World (US)
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