Exploring Voice Recorders for the iPhone/iPod Touch

In preparing for Leadership Day 2009 (a day of advocacy planned by Scott McLeod from Dangerously Irrelevant.org) I wanted to talk to students about what they thought about how technology was being used in their schools. For this I needed a digital voice recorder.

I went to Best Buy only to find $60-$120 recorders that were only Windows supported. I looked online and found the Griffin iTalk recorder that plugs into your iPod. This lists at around $19.95 on Amazon.

I did not have time to wait for it to arrive, so I took at look at some Apps for my iPhone. I found a few and had to do some comparing.

My criteria were:
  • file type
  • audio quality
  • ease of file transfer

First, I tried the built-in Voice Memo App that came with the 3.0 software
update. This allowed me record for a long time, but when I tried to email the file to myself (it was 10 min. long) I was only able to send a little over a minute's worth of the recording.

I found that many Apps, like Recorder ($.99) had an email option to send voice files to your computer. However, as I had discovered with the Voice Recorder App, this limits the size of the file. I knew that my interview would last more than 1 or 2 minutes.

I realized that I would need an alternative method of transfer. Through reading reviews and descriptions, I found that SpeakEasy Voice Recorder ($1.99), put out by Zarboo Software had a software that you could download to sync the App with your iPhone/iTouch. However, after reading some reviews, I chose not to use it due to complaints of sync problems with the software.

Since Griffin made the external microphone, I decided to see what they had to offer. I found two versions of the iTalk App, one free (!) and one that costs $4.99 (Premium). This, like the SpeakEasy App requires a software download to sync to your iPhone. However, reviews of this App described how easy the sync was to use. I decided to download the Premium because it was ad free and allowed for note-taking and 'Pause & Resume" option even if you get phone call or your iPhone goes to sleep (this was also available in SpeakEasy, but I was worried about syncing problems).

I downloaded the iTalk Sync software and found it very easy to use. It immediately began searching for my iPhone, found it and then gave me the option to sync. Syncing requires a WiFi connection. Once synced, my files showed up, ready for download to iTunes.

I am not saying that iTalk is the be-all, end-all in Voice Recorders for the iPhone (considering I only actually tried 2!). However, I found it easy to use, and I was able to record my interview and import it into GarageBand for editing. I also saved a lot of money by buying a $5.00 App rather than a $50 device or a $20 + shipping device.

I am looking forward to finding more uses for this App, hopefully for podcasting with students.


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