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Voice activation

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.

Here's a round-up of voice activated recorders....

Olympus LS-5 digital voice recorder

The Olympus LS-5 is effectively a pocket-sized recording studio – with the capability to capture really high quality audio in almost any environment.

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Best Bargain Basement: This is a fantastic entry level recorder, especially considering it has USB connectivity - allowing transfer of files to a pc.

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Sony BX700

This cheap and cheerful recorder is great value for money. The Sony ICD-BX700 weighs in at just 71g and comes with easy to use controls and crystal clear audio as well as capacity to store up to 280 hours of recording.

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Olympus DM-420 digital voice recorder

The Olympus DM-420 is the USA name for what is known elsewhere as the DM-450. It offers near-CD quality recording and playback at a reasonable price.

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Olympus Dm-520 digital voice recorder

Best buy: The Olympus DM-520 is the USA name for what is known elsewhere as the DM-550. It offers CD quality recording and playback at a reasonable price.

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Olympus DS-40

The Olympus DS-40 is a good buy at the moment (writing in Jan 2010) if you can find one as the model has been superceded by the DS-65.

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Sanyo ICR-NT300 digital voice recorder

If you're looking for a no-frills and inexpensive digital voice recorder that is also practical and easy-to-use, this could be the one for you.

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Olympus Dm-550 digital voice recorder

Best Buy: A really great recorder. Top of the range of the new DM breed of Olympus recorders, the Olympus DM-550 offers CD quality recording and playback at a reasonable price.

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Olympus DM-450

One of the new DM breed of Olympus recorders, the Olympus DM-450 offers near-CD quality recording and playback at a reasonable price.

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Sony ICD B500 digital voice recorder

The ICD-B500 voice recorder is portable note taker with 256 MB of flash memory - double the capacity of its predecessor.

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Zoom H2 Handy Recorder

The Zoom H2 is an easy-to-use digital recorder that gives broadcast quality stereo results for live music, interviews, podcasts, conferences and all kinds of location recordings.

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