Saturday, February 02, 2008

Review of Olympus VN-4100PC

The following review is not a comparison of VN-4100 PC with comparable models by other manufacturers.
Olympus VN-4100 PC was my Christmas gift to myself. This digital voice recorder--my first pocket size recorder--is an amazing productivity-enhancement tool. We know how fiction-writers zip through the field of ideas--often not able to catch even 10% of things they think about. With this recorder it would be possible for writers to pick and capture most of, if not all, the ideas that race through their minds.
In VN-4100 you store recordings in files--every time you start a new recording, a new file is created--and you can arrange things among four (4) folders. So, I am thinking of having folder A for short story ideas; folder B for audio notes as I go through the day; folder C for translation; and folder D for everything else. Imagine waiting at the airport for a connecting flight, feeling not too spunky to power up your laptop and work on it, but still wanting to use your time productively. No worries. Just turn on this voice recorder, select any of the four folders and start creating audio files capturing whatever you think of. You can later transfer these wav format files to your PC through a USB cable. If you are too busy now to write down things listening to the audio files you have created, you can just keep them stored for a much later time when either you would have the spare time to transcribe, or the financial resources to pay someone to do it for you, or the voice recognition technology would be so advanced, prevalent, and accurate that you would play the recording to a voice recognition software and it would faithfully write down everything for you. Voila!
In VN-4100 erasing a recording is easy, but there is no recycle bin. Whatever you erase will be gone forever; though the product has a built-in security feature. When you press the ‘Erase’ button on the recorder (or if it gets pressed accidentally), by default 'No' is highlighted among the 'Yes, No' options that appear on the screen. If you really want to erase a file you would have to use the arrow button on your module to move to ‘Yes’ and then press Enter (Play) button.
Two AAA batteries are the only power source for this little genie. Recording time of 144 hours (I have not verified that claim yet) means you would probably run out of batteries before you would fill up the memory of the recorder. To prolong battery life, keep the unit turned off when not using. You would probably be able to conserve batteries by not playing back the files on your recorder.
VN-4100 PC is very small and very light. That means it is easy to carry, but you would have to be careful not to lose it.
I am always amazed by prolific writers who lived before the technological advances of the last 100 years, and especially by those who wrote before the age of computers. How could they write so much with only pen and paper to their disposal? Imagine what Tolstoy could do with a computer and an Olympus VP-4100PC!

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