I was assessed for Disabled Students Allowance at my university. One of the things that we decided would help me was a dictaphone and so 6 weeks later the Olympus DM-20 turned up on my doorstep.
~*~ First Impressions ~*~
I had expected a cheap dictaphone as the university was providing it for me, and therefore that is what I expected it to look like. How wrong could I be?
I have never had a dictaphone before and therefore wasn't quite sure what to expect but the first thing I noticed about this is that it didn't have a tape. Instead you had to download the files onto the computer and use the software provided with the player to work with whatever you have saved. I originally found this a little complicated but that probably wasn't helped by the fact that I went straight in without even looking at the instructions.
The other thing I had noticed about this player was how small and light it was. I had expected something bulkier and heavier.
~*~ Looks ~*~
The Olympus DM-20 measures 11cm x 4cm x 1.5cm and weighs just 85g including the batteries.
The dictaphone is made of silver metal and has several buttons on the front and side. The buttons and writing on the front are very small and I have trouble reading it if I don't have my glasses on. However the buttons are spaced well enough to make them easily accessible and easy to use without pressing the wrong one by mistake! The options on the front are: Display/menu, Index, Folder/repeat and Erase. The erase button is marked with a red line to stop it being pressed by accident.
The buttons on the side are much larger although the writing for them is silver making it even harder for me to see what they are as they blend in with the metal. However this problem is at least partly solved by the fact that they have the usual play, rewind, stop symbols marked on the buttons. These are also silver but they are large enough to reflect the light so I can usually tell what they are at a glance. The buttons on the side are: volume, fast forward and rewind, play, stop and record. The record button is also marked with a red line to prevent me pressing that by accident. Although having said that there have been times when I've mistaken the erase for the record and vice versa. Although seeing as they're on two different parts of the player that shouldn't be that easy to do and probably says more about me than it does about the player!
~*~ Features ~*~
Built-in microphone - To be honest with you as I've never had a dictaphone before I can't compare this with one that didn't have a built in microphone but it does seem to work well, I've never noticed any problems using it and my friends have commented on how it reduces background noise.
Built-in Display LCD - The screen is small but it is bright enough and the writing is large enough to be able to easily see what track your playing and how far along in it you are. I have dropped the player a few times and the screen has not cracked or showed any visible problem
Display Illumination - Okay, now this may just be my player but there is a button to enable you to turn on a light behind the screen so that you can see it in the dark ... but it doesn't work. Never has and probably never will. However that doesn't affect the playback or recording at all and so I've never worried about it and that may be just a fault with my particular player rather than with this make as a whole.
Record Level Control Automatic - Again I can't compare this with a player that doesn't have this as I've never had one. But I haven't had any problems with it, even when the person I'm recording has been sat quite far away from me it has always picked it up and just the right level, so I'm guessing that means it works!
Stereo sound - I don't tend to use my player for music and so I've never had a need for this feature, but it's there. I tried it quickly for the purpose of this review and it does work, probably better than it does on my CD player.
Battery life - I've used two sets of batteries in this now, both lasted for about 60 hours, which is more than enough for me.
Quality of playback - The playback is excellent. When recording it reduces the background noise automatically and this is reflected in what it plays back, the music quality is also just as good.
Travel Lock - Excellent feature! Its a sliding switch at the back of the player, I love this feature on items as I'm always accidentally pressing buttons, and it's normally the ones such as record or erase and its always that most important piece of work that I erase! The only problem I had with this feature is that as it's at the back of the player and slides easily it can take itself off which defeats the point of it being a key lock.
~*~ Other points worth noting? ~*~
The playback time is claimed to be 1255 minutes, I've never had to record anything for that long (and hopefully never will!) and so can't tell you how true that is but I have been able to record multiple songs, lectures and notes on here and still not come near to running out of room.
The playback time is divided into 5 folders. You can easily switch between the five of them and so I tend to divide the different things I'm recording into each of its own folders so I don't have to skip through all my lectures just to get to my music.
With the player you also get: a hand strap, a USB cable, a docking station for your computer and a carrying case with room for the headphones (including the microphone), spare batteries and the player
This player cost £185.00 this was several years ago though (I originally posted this review 4 years ago) the price has dropped significantly since then and in my opinion it is well worth the money. It does have a few faults such as the screen not lighting up but despite this the player is still very good quality and I would recommend it.
(Review also posted under my ciao name angel530)