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Digital voice recorder buyer's guide

Buying tip:
When you click on an Amazon link in our price comparison column, you are often taken to a page that offers the product at a higher price than originally stated. Don't worry! You can still find the lower price by looking down the right hand side of the page.

Note takers (often called dictaphones) are used for taking voice memos to remind yourself of something. Ideas in the middle of the night. Invitation lists. To do lists, whatever. Usually you would just play these back to yourself from the voice recorder itself.

Dictation recorders are usually used by high-end business users who need to be able to dictate into a recorder for transcription by a secretary/transcriber at a later date. Use examples include a doctor dictating medical notes or a businessman dictation long letters and memos. Dictation recorders have advanced filing systems allowing the easy download of multiple files and are usually bundled with software to help transcription.

The recorders listed in this section produce high quality recordings suitable for recording live music

Record live bands, rehearsals, music lessons that sort of thing. Good microphones and recording frequencies are essential for this.

Better quality microphones, longer recording times at higher quality than note-takers with the ability to download files onto your computer.

Voice activation means that you can leave a recorder in 'standby' and it will automatically start recording once the sound reaches a certain level and stop when it drops below that level.

Therefore you could use it for covert recording and leave it in an empty room - it would only record when someone came in and started talking.

Or you could leave it running on your desk while you were reading documents and it would only go into 'record' mode when you dictated notes out loud.

Digital voice recorders designed with the visually impared in mind include features such as tactile precision buttons, intuitive operation, and 'voice guidance' menus.