---Why I Bought One---
I am Secretary of our local History Group but havng been ill for a few years now I was finding I was not able to attend meetings regularly so I decided to buy a cheap dictaphone to tape the meetings that I was not attending so that I could do the minutes afterwards.
I have never used a digital dictaphone before and was not sure how my being replaced at meetings by a machine would work so I did not want to spend much of my own money on a dictaphone and I did not expect the group to fund it for me.
I therefore decided to search on Ebay to see if I could pick some sort of dictaphone up cheaply.
I was lucky enough to find this micro recorder still in its box and with extra tapes for under £10 - at that price I figured if it was not very good I had not lost much.
The J300 Microcassette recorder is compact and lightweight. It came in a green cardboard box with an instruction sheet and was made in China.
The recorder itself is streamline and is silver on the front and dark grey on the back.
The machine has a built in microphone but cn also have an external microphone fitted if required. The microphone jack is also the earphone jack - so it can be used for either an external microphone or for a earphone when playing back a recording.
Voice actuator begins recording at the sound of a voice - and stops when the voice does. Fast play mode lets you listen 25% faster than at normal speed. And the dual tape speed function can record three hours of voice on one 90-minute Microcassette tape.
* Voice activated recording (VCVA)
* Built in microphone
* Weight: 129g
* 116 x 54 x 21mm
* Microcassette - up to 90 min.
* Recording length: Depends on microcassette
* Tape counter
* Pause function
* Red power light
* Earphone and microphone jack
* Tape speed: 2.4 cm (normal) or 1.2 cm (extends time of tapes by x2) switchable
* Fast play - lets you listen 25% faster than at normal speed
* Takes 2 x AAA batteries (or you can purchase a power lead).
Once the batteries are inserted and a tape in place all you need do is press the record button - a red light comes on to show it is recording.
You can either just have the machine to record normally or have it voice activated where it will switch itself on and off if there is speaking or silences thus saving the batteries).
You can record at either 2.4 (normal speed) or 1.2 (longer speed) - more information under 'Tapes' below.
There is also a button if you wish to pause.
To replay the record just rewind the tape and then press 'play'.
A switch at the side will allow you to playback at fast play - meaning 25% quicker.
There is a volume knob which should be put at 'max' for the recording process.
This machine takes micro cassettes.
At 2.4 speed MC 60 tapes have 60 minutes of record time at 30 minutes per side.
At 1.2 speed MC 60 tapes have 120 minutes of record time at 60 minutes per side.
At 2.4 speed MC 90 tapes have 90 minutes of record time at 45 minutes per side.
At 1.2 speed MC 90 tapes have 180 minutes of record time at 90 minutes per side.
I paid under £10 on Ebay.
It does not seem available as a new machine now being somewhat dated but they can be piked up from Ebay and various other sites.
A refurbished one is available from CodeMicro.com for £36.20 but they can often be picked up quite cheaply from Ebay.
I was pleasantly surpirsed by this machine - though probably people think that these cassette machines are now a bit old fashioned. However I believe theystill have a place for taking notes etc. or for other purposes where you do not need to be able to upload the recordings to the computer.
In fact having a dictaphone at meetings when I could not attend actually worked fine -and is in fact still working two years on.
The machine has an integral micrphone and this picks up the converstaion very well. You can also switch it to voice activated recording which means if there is a silence of 3-4 seconds the machine stops recording - thus saving on the tape time and the battery life.
At the meetings they place the dictaphone on the table in front of the Chairman and the machine does the rest - so long as they remember to turn it on - somethig they forgot when we had an interesting speaker one evening!
I have replaced the tapes that came with it with ones that will run for 90 minutes (MC 90) each side so there is no fear fo them running out half way through a meeting. This is on the 1.2 speed setting which gives perfectly adequate quality for what I need.
I always make sure to buy the high power Duracell Ultra Power AAA batteries. these show the charge left in them and I always change them before they are needed but the batteries do last for quite a few month's worth of recording - I tend to change them earlier rather than later for the machine not to fail mid meeting.
The proceedings of the meeting are picked up quite clearly and I am able to play it back afterwards and follow what was going on and type up the meeting's minutes - the only time it can be a bit difficult to decipher is when lots of people try and speak at once - but I think that would be a problem for any recorder - digital or otherwise.
It is also a nice lightweight, compact little machine and looks quite stylish in its silver colour - it came in a little black slip plastic cover but I now keep it in a little zipped pencil case which protects it better.
In the 2 years I have had the machine I have not had any trouble with tapes jamming, snapping or getting tangled - apart from buying the longer play tapes I have not needed to buy any more tapes at all.
5 Stars. Great little machine and can probably be picked up at a bargain price these days.
---Would I Recommend?---
Yes definitely. Great if you need to take notes at university or college.
The Olympus J300 Pearlcorder is an analog, handheld dictaphone that has all the essential features you would need from a recording device. It has voice-activated recording or you can leave the tape running, depending on what suits your needs. I use my device mostly for recording university lectures and have found that voice-activated recording isn't as good for this because it isn't as instant as I would like it to be. This may be because it uses cassettes and so there's about a second delay between activation and recording, hence it tends to miss the first word in a sentence. This isn't so much of a problem when I am recording my own thoughts/ideas as I make sure I talk slower to accomodate for this, but with lecturers I find it causes unnecessary problems so I leave the tape running throughout.
The quality of the recordings aren't great, they sound slightly muffled. Again, this isn't a problem when recording by myself in a quiet room, but in lectures I have to sit near the front of the lecture hall otherwise it can be difficult to properly hear what was said. Don't get me wrong, it records just fine, and I haven't recording anything that I wasn't able to hear afterwards, it's just that the clarity of the recordings could be better. This is probably to be expected though as it is an old, analog device.
One thing I like about this product is that you can double the amount of time you get on a tape by switching the speed that it records, so you can turn an hour long tape into a two hour tape. This doesn't affect the recording in any way so it is a bonus feature. It is small and light enough to fit in your pocket, though won't leave space for anything else. If you have a handbag or rucksack then this will take up hardly any space. It comes in its own leather carrying case, which keeps it clean and unscratched. The volume can be turned quite loud and it has a perfectly good speaker, or you can plug in your earphones if you are in the library, for example.
A negative of this device is that you have no way of knowing when the batteries are going to run out, which can cause problems if you are recording something important. I have a spare pack of AAA batteries with me just in case. I usually have to change the batteries every 1 1/2 to 2 weeks and I would say I get between 14 - 16 hours use out of them.
Requires 2 AAA batteries
Dual tape speed function
129g weight and 116x54x21 (WxHxD)
Requires plenty of tapes if seeing constant use
Sound quality = average
I would recommend this device if you aren't too bothered about sound quality and just want something fairly cheap that will record your thoughts etc. It is basic and easy to use. I've had it at least 5 years and it still works fine.
However, if you are going to be using your device regularly and in a professional environment then I would suggest a digital recorder, which would have the advantage of better recordings and also being able to easily transfer your material onto a computer without having to worry about how many tapes you have and how often they will be filled up.
It's currently on Amazon for £68.22
==Olympus Pearl Corder J300 Dictaphone==
The Olympus Peal corder J300 was a gift I received for Christmas a few years back from Himself. Now it may seem like a rather odd gift to get your partner but I had actually requested to have a Dictaphone of some sort and this specific model was chosen by Himself and I have been suitably impressed with it.
The main reason that I felt I needed a Dictaphone was because I do like to keep a daily diary but have trouble finding the time to write it up each and every day therefore felt that by having a Dictaphone I would not only be able to record my daily activities and thoughts but at the same time look like someone of importance!
==What It Is==
The Olympus Pearl Corder Dictaphone is an analogue device which is hand held and allows you to record your voice on the micro tape which is held inside. It claims to be for professional use but really this is only because of the high specifications of the Dictaphone and really this is suitable for anyone wanting a product that gives easy use and clear sounds.
The Dictaphone offers a voice activated feature that allows the user to stop and start talking and the Dictaphone will stop and start taping accordingly. It is lightweight and small enough to fit into your pocket whilst also giving a good range of abilities and sounds.
There is a fast playback option which allows you to listen to the recording at 25% faster speeds and the machine allows up to 30 minutes of recording time per tape side. The machine requires 2 x AAA batteries which are not supplied when you buy the item. Because of the item not being digital there isn't a USB port as this is not needed but there are sockets to plug in earphones or an external power supply.
==Price and Availability==
Now as I have just said, this Dictaphone was a gift and that said I am unsure as to how much was actually paid for it. I do know however that it was purchased from a WH Smiths and for that reason I don't expect that the cheapest price was paid. After having a quick scout around on the internet, I can see a few different retailers selling it for varying amounts. This is a model that is perhaps somewhat outdated now as I have had it a while and there are now digital Dictaphones to replace these old style tape ones.
The selling price on Amazon is £32.99 pence although this is not currently in stock but there is another site which is slightly cheaper at £29 99 pence and this is Conrad Electrials UK. I don't know whether this model is still available to purchase from WH Smiths but seeing as I can't find it many places on line I would not have really thought so.
==Look and Use==
The look of the Olympus Pearl Corder Dictaphone is really nothing overly special. Seeing as it is an old style micro tape player the newer digital ones are far more sleek and styled looking and in comparison this looks pretty outdated. However I am a medical secretary and the doctors at my practice still all use these tape Dictaphones but theirs are even older and compared to this Dictaphone look even more brick like and unattractive.
The version I have is silver and grey in colour but I can tell you that there is also a gold colour or indeed a black one which may have made the product look slightly more up to date and sleek. However I am happy with the overall look of the Dictaphone for I am not taking the product out anywhere or feel that the look of the Dictaphone will have any bearing on how it operates as a good voice recorder.
The Dictaphone has 5 different dials on the right hand side of the product. These are for recording, playing stopping/ejecting, pausing the tape or to fast forward and to rewind. These are all clearly marked and are all easy to use. When the Dictaphone is recording, there is a small LED red light which is illuminated on the top of the machine that I find rather handy to know if the recorder is left on, although this light will go on and off due to the voice activation system.
There are two small speakers on the Dictaphone and the top smallest one is where the voice is recorded in and the larger one nearer to the bottom of the machine is where the playback is heard through. I find that both the quality of the initial recording and the quality of the play back is both clear and buzz free which surprised me at first considering how terrible the recordings are at work.
There is a small timer on the front of the machine which shows how much time has been used up in the recordings. This can be reset easily by the small button positioned next to the dial. Of course when the tape is being rewound the counter will go backwards and this is a good feature that allows you to know how much time is left before you get back to the end of the recording.
The Dictaphone is small in size (116mm x 54mm x 21mm)and weighs in at 129 grams. This may not sound particularly heavy or large but I feel that the weight is slightly heavier than I would perhaps like to carry about with me and I am sure that these modern digital ones come in at a much lighter weight. However this does not bother me seeing as the machine never leaves the house.
The batteries can be easily fitted into a slot on the bottom corner of the Dictaphone and these have lasted well and I have probably only needed to replace them one every year. Because of the voice activation feature of the machine this seems to save battery power and thus saving more pennies on buying the things!
The instruction leaflet that came with the machine was small enough for me to actually stay interested and have a quick look through. This however didn't really contain much useful information because I feel that there is not a lot that can be said. It did give the basic feature information and of course the instructions for use but again these are all fairly straightforward and easy to work out without referring to the leaflet.
The tapes it takes are the micro tapes which do not look overly different to the mini tapes but there is a small difference in them which means that the mini tapes will most certainly not fit in the machine (I have tried). The tape are easy to find however and you can pick up a little packet of three for under £5 from most places that sell this sort of office type equipment. My last packet was purchased from WH Smiths but they can be found far cheaper if purchased on line.
The tapes themselves do last quite a decent amount of time and the three single tapes which were included in my Christmas present have more or less done a few years in recording time. The machine unfortunately didn't come with any tapes of its own so Himself has to buy me a set when he purchased the Dictaphone otherwise I wouldn't have been able to use the machine! I have only recently bought a new set of tapes so with the daily use that I was getting from them I think this is pretty good going!
I really feel that this little Olympus pearl Corder Dictaphone has done a great job over the years and I really cannot find any faults with it. The price may have been a little on the steep side as I wasn't aware that Himself had spent as much as he did on this item but it seems that we have gotten our monies worth and the machine is still going strong.
I perhaps would of liked a tape or two in with the machine when it was first purchased especially for that price but then the tapes are easy to find and do not cost a great deal especially considering how ling the do last.
The sound quality is again something I cannot fault and the voice activation feature is a good one and saves both battery power and tape space. The machine plays back the recordings well and the Dictaphone didn't need anything doing to it other than inserting batteries for it to be up and running.
Overall I feel that this little machine is a really good one for me and does its job well and efficiently. I have had no problems whatsoever since owning it and I shouldn't think there is much that can go wrong with it. It is far superior to the ones we have at work and makes me think that perhaps if the doctors had machines like these I would be able to make out there garbled dictation more of the time.
The only thing I would say is that if you are looking to buy a new Dictaphone for your already up and running tape dictation system just make sure that is it the micro tapes that are used and not the mini tapes as they do look so similar but this tape system wouldn't work with the ones we use at work as they are the mini ones.
All in all I think top marks for this Olympus Pearl Corder Dictaphone as it is a product that I can't fault!
5 out of 5 stars and a high recommendation!
Many thanks for taking the time to read.
I do hope that this has been of some help/interest to you.