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Olympus VN 5500PC

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9 Reviews

Olympus VN-5500PC - Digital voice recorder - flash 512 MB - WMA

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    9 Reviews
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      10.02.2014 04:10

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      Great as a study tool.

      Whilst studying last year I found it very difficult to study under the pressure of exams and felt I wasn't retaining any information. One of my fellow students recommended to me to buy a dictaphone which I did and the Olympus VN 5500 PC was the model. My initial impressions were that I was impressed by the size of it, it's very small and neat, not a big clunky awkward thing! It's silver in colour with Stop, Record, Play buttons, etc... It has 512 MB of memory which was plenty for me as I only wanted to read some notes and play them back when I was driving. It has a loud speaker feature which allowed me to do this and the sound quality was great (although I didn't like listening to my own voice!) Another major plus is the battery life, I literally had to change the batteries once every couple of months. It takes AAA batteries which are easily affordable too. In conclusion it's a great machine to assist as a study tool and would also be useful if you had to record meetings, etc...

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      14.01.2014 13:52
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      A real essential for my dissertation

      A couple of years ago in the final year of my degree I went on the hunt for a good dictaphone which I could use to tape interviews for my upcoming dissertation. Having not owned a dictaphone before I wasn't really sure what I was looking for but after browsing on Amazon for a good hour and reading various reviews, I settled on this Olympus VN-5500PC. Having recently spotted this dictaphone languishing in a kitchen cupboard of all places, I though it was high time that it got a review after all it was a big help during my university days.

      ~First impressions and dimensions~

      When I received my dictaphone through the post, I was surprised and pleased with the petite size of this device as I felt sure that I could carry it in my trouser pocket in between interviews. This dictaphone is completely silver in colour and plastic in construction and it retains a slim rectangular shape with the buttons and display screen being located on the front of the device. The display screen is quite small in size as you would expect from the overall dimensions of the dictaphone and measures around 1.9cm by 2.8cm however in my opinion this is adequate for viewing when the device is placed on a flat surface. Overall dimensions of this dictaphone measure 10cm high by 3.7cm wide by 1.8cm deep.

      ~Technical details~

      This dictaphone is a digital mass storage device which records using a WMA format which can be transferred via USB to my computer for both listening to and sharing my voice files. It has an internal memory of 512MB which effectively means that it can record up to 221 hours of digital recording, however this does depend on the recording option you choose (HQ/SP/LP) with each option offering a different amount of storage. This dictaphone is powered using 2 x AA batteries which power the dictaphone for up to 25 hours of recording time and these are quite easily replaced by simply removing the small hatch on the back of the device and popping the batteries out. To transfer files this dictaphone can be plugged in using the computers USB port and operates on both Microsoft and Mackintosh software.

      ~Set up and use~

      As I am not very good with technical things I did take the chance when I received my dictaphone to read the instruction manual although I confess to getting quite bored half way through and skimming much of the information to gain the essential facts. In essence, this dictaphone is controlled and operated via the small push buttons on the front of the dictaphone which allow you to stop, fast forward, rewind and pause the recording. Every button is clearly marked so you really can't go wrong. On the side of my dictaphone is a small silver switch which enables you to turn the device on and off and once switched onto the on position the screen lights up. The screen is an excellent indicator of how much battery life is left in the dictaphone and how much storage is left and this is indicated in hours and minutes. Once you start recording via the red 'rec' button the minute and second timer on the storage capacity decreases and larger numerals in the centre of the screen tell you how long you have been recording for. Each recording is stored in a separate file and it is quite easy to locate a recording by skipping through each one using the folder button. Should you want to delete a recording a small 'erase' button at the base of the dictaphone allows you to delete a file however you do have to press this a couple of times to ensure the folder is deleted which is a great feature in my opinion as it does prevent you from accidentally deleting a critical file.

      This dictaphone does have a built in microphone for picking up voices and an integrated speaker which enables you to clearly listen to the recordings after you are finished.

      ~My experiences~

      When I purchased my Olympus dictaphone I had one intended use for it and that was to record a series of group interviews that I planned to have which were discussing the subject of my dissertation. As such the meetings would be held in medium sized meeting rooms with a maximum number of 6 interviewees at any given time.

      Once I had practised using this dictaphone a couple of times at home and was satisfied with how easily I could transfer the voice files onto my computer it was time to put this little dictaphone to the test. Once everyone in my interview was seated, I pressed the record button on my dictaphone and placed it onto the centre of the meeting room table as central as possible to everyone involved. The nice thing about this dictaphone is that it is very small and subtle and therefore it wasn't really noticed by the people in the room when I placed it onto the table. The device records silently so you have no interruptions and makes a light bleep when the recording is manually stopped. I had quite a variety of different participants in my first interview with both quiet and louder voices and was slightly concerned that the dictaphone might struggle to pick up everyone's voices although I had no background noises throughout the interviews which was a positive.

      Having finished recording and said my thanks to all the participants I was keen to see how my dictaphone had faired. To my delight I found that the recording was clear and easy to follow and the sound quality was good enough that I could hear what everybody in the room had had to say without any echo noises as people moved in their seats. As I was planning to type up a number of quotes given in the interview I found that the play and pause buttons were excellent at giving me the time to type each statement and the fast forward button quickly skipped through the recording to the key parts.

      Since my first interview with this dictaphone I went on to conduct several more and each one was stored separately on the device and took up minimal storage. Indeed after each interview I took the chance to download the recording onto my computer so that I could wipe the memory and start again with the next interview. One thing which did impress me was the durability of the battery life with this dictaphone with the batteries lasting for three separate interviews and the battery life only going down by one bar.

      ~Price and availability~

      When I purchased my Olympus VN-5500PC it cost £48.89 from the Amazon website. Although this did seem steep at the time it was about average compared to all the other dictaphones on the market and was a price which I was willing to pay. It has since been updated with a newer model and so is only now available from such websites as EBay for a fraction of the price that I paid.

      ~Overall~

      Overall I would recommend this dictaphone as it certainly made my life at university that little bit easier and has faired well in its life since. This device is compact, easy to use, quick to set up and records sounds well and therefore it has to score the perfect five from me.

      I hope this review has been of some help and thanks for reading! x

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        06.08.2013 17:02
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        Not my best buy

        I bought the Olympus VN 5500PC Dictaphone to help with my professional exams. I was advised that recording my paperwork would be a massive help to me and it can be taken with me on the go due to its small size. I found the Dictaphone very easy to use and I enjoyed recording all of my paperwork. What I did not like about this particular Dictaphone was the playback, my voice was broken up and not as clear as I would have liked which really disheartened me as I put a lot of time and effort into the recordings. I felt that overall it was a complete waste of time and I did not benefit from my Dictaphone at all.

        It was not the best value for my money and wish I would have looked into a better quality one, I have learned to look at reviews now before committing to a purchase.

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        30.01.2013 00:34
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        Great dictaphone I would definately buy again.

        INTRO

        Out of all of the dictaphones I have managed to get through army time at university, this one has to be my favourite. I brought this one in my second year after my first one went first one got miss placed. I was attracted to this device because of the good brand name and it was very compact, lightweight, pleasant appearance and can be connected to a computer.

        PRODUCT
        The dictaphone comes in the standard grey plastic case, as you find with most dictaphones. The front of the device has a small to moderately sized LCD screen, certainly big enough to organise and set up your recordings, and has most of the buttons needed to control the device. On the top there is a headphones socket and a hold button to lock the device. The dictaphone can connect to a computer via a USB port using the cable provided. The back of the device has a battery compartment, which takes 2 AAA batteries. The device has noise reduction features that are designed to enhance the speakers voice. The dictaphone has a 512MB memory.


        The product is the typical grey colour with plastic casing and small LCD screen. All the buttons needed to control, organise and playback your recordings are features on the front of the device, with a headphone jack and computer connector on the base and side of the device. Compared to my first cheap dictaphone it is very compact and light, and is powered by 2 AAA batteries. The device also has noise reduction features that enables human voices to be picked up clearly, ideal for a lecture theatre. The memory in this device is not as good as other devices i have had since, the basic memory being of 512MB, but as you can download your recordings onto a computer, it is plenty larger enough for most needs.

        PRICE

        I brought mine for about £45 from John Lewis, but obviously this price is now a couple of years out of date.

        RESULT

        As mentioned already this is my favourite dictaphone. It was simple to use, light weight, stylish and
        Reduced good sound quality, even in a large lecture theatre. The background noise was not completely removed, but provided no else is talking too much close to the device it doesn't really effect the sound quality. The device even made great recording at the back of a large lecture theatre. The battery life of the device was good and lasts for a good 2/3 weeks even when using at lectures every day. The memory size is slightly on the small side, but because you can easily download the files onto the computer it doesn't really cause a problem. I ended up downloading all of my lectures every couple of weeks to keep them organised. The device does allow you to organise your recordings into folders on the device, but I didn't use this feature too much.

        CONCLUSION

        I love this dictaphone and would definately buy it again. The memory is a little small, but it never caused me any problems.

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        13.08.2012 17:26
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        Good device i would buy again

        INTRO

        This is the dictaphone that I brought half way through my first year of uni after i decided to invest in a more modern dictaphone after i realised how useful they are. It initially attracted me due to its good make, with Olympus probably being the market leader in this area, followed by Sony, compact size and 'easy to use' appearance.

        PRODUCT

        The product is the typical grey colour with plastic casing and small LCD screen. All the buttons needed to control, organise and playback your recordings are features on the front of the device, with a headphone jack and computer connector on the base and side of the device. Compared to my first cheap dictaphone it is very compact and light, and is powered by 2 AAA batteries. The device also has noise reduction features that enables human voices to be picked up clearly, ideal for a lecture theatre. The memory in this device is not as good as other devices i have had since, the basic memory being of 512MB, but as you can download your recordings onto a computer, it is plenty larger enough for most needs.

        PRICE

        I brought mine a few years ago now at John Lewis for about 45 pounds. I believe it may have been on a price match, but you might be able to get it a bit cheaper if not the same now.

        RESULT

        I was really impressed this device and only replaced it when i lost it while moving out of student halls. It was very simple to use, i did not even have to read the manual to figure out how to play, record and organise my files. The recording quality is excellent, the filters seem to enhance the lectures voice making it clearer and louder even from a distance. Although background noise was not completely removed, it was very faint in comparison to the lecturer talking. The size of the memory the not a problem as i could record a months worth of lectures with room to spare, and would regularly download them onto a computer so i could organise them and have a backup.

        CONCLUSION

        This device is a very good and i would recommend it. Admittedly, for the price you are paying i think it should come with a larger memory, but it is plenty large enough for most uses.

        4 Star Rating!

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          18.09.2010 12:59
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          A must have for someone who needs to take notes fast and accurately

          In my work area it's important to take notes quickly and accurately so i was thrilled when i found the VN5500PC for £49.89.

          Features:
          It has a 512MB capacity which means it can handle 221 hours of recording! Files are recorded in mp3 format and can be easily transferred to computer using a USB cable. If you want to record certain logs seperately there are 5 different folders in which to do this, something i found really useful as it meant not having to fast forward through a stream of other notes to find what i'm looking for. A blessing and a curse of this dictaphone is the automatic recording system in which speaking into it causes it to record. This is great for making notes without hassle, but awkward when it accidently sets itself off. The buttons and menu are easily managable and do not need much navigation.
          The dictaphone runs on two AA batteries which last you up to around 30 hours recording time.

          Quality:
          Playback on the dictaphone itself is done in WMA files and is very good quality from the minute you hit play. Your voice is not distorted or intergrated with background noise, making it in my oppinion the best i've ever owned. On computer the recordings become crystal clear as if you were speaking out loud in the room you're in.

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          14.09.2010 14:57
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          Two thumbs up!

          Working as a writer and journalist, having a decent digital voice recorder is golden, as you don`t have to worry missing out on great ideas or revelations while out and about, as this practical, modern looking recorder fits nicely into any handbag, shoulder bag or rucksack for that matter, allowing you to record whatever your thoughts might be onto a device that stores it with amazing sound quality and the good sense not to delete it by accident or something horrible like that...

          What makes this voice recorder so very worth the money, is first of all the very clear and good quality sound it records your voice in, the presentation of your talking is very clear and undisturbed. The recorder runs on two standard AAA batteries, and the power of these will last you for 30-35 hours of recording, which should mean you will not have to change batteries all that often... The recorder is also very light in its weight, so if you have a pocket in your jacket, it could be transported there as well... What makes this product so genius though, is the fact that you can easily plug the recorder into an USB in your computer, dragging your recorded files onto the laptop, which is a feature I use a lot! If you prefer, your files can be listened to on the device itself, the audio quality again very good! The device is extremely easy to use, but should you have any problems, the instruction booklet will inform you on all you need to know. The only minor disadvantage, is that it doesn`t come with a protecting case, but as the product is very solid and of good quality, this really hasn`t presented itself as a problem, I still can`t detect a scratch on it! The cost of this product varies a lot from store to store, you can find it costing from 49.99 to 85.99, so researching up on offers and such would be smart, as I bought mine for 70.99, later noticing it costing 50.00 at PC World, which I think has the best offer on this device.

          A great product, recommended!

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          01.09.2010 18:24
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          Brilliant little product, would recommend!

          I got this digital voice recorder to record lectures at university and it has been perfect. It records the sound well even from right at the back of a 500 seater lecture theatre, however sound quality is clearer when placed nearer the microphone. There is no distortion in sound quality from being placed right next to the sound source, which I have experienced with previous recording devices.
          The recorder is small (about 10cm x 3cm x 1cm), making it easily portable. It is extremely lightweight. It doesn't come with a case for protection, which I thought would be a problem, but I've carried it around for 8 months and there's barely a scratch on it. It runs on 2 AAA batteries, and these last for around 30 hours of record time.
          The device is very simple to use and comes with a fully detailed instruction booklet. It switches on and off instantly for quick recording at the touch of a button. It claims to record 34 hours of material (although I have never tested if this is true!). The screen also gives you a countdown of how many minutes of recording time you have remaining. The recorder has five folders for you to separate recordings into categories.
          One of the most useful features of the voice recorder is that it can be connected to a computer via USB port (wire included) so that audio files can be transferred onto a computer, just like a memory stick. I found this more useful for listening back to recordings. However you can also listen to the recordings directly from the device, either with or without earphones.
          I bought this device for around £50 from PC World, and I think it is value for money.

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          23.08.2010 15:08
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          Good quality, affordable electronic voice recorder.

          *This has also been on Ciao, where I am tallulahbang*


          ~*~Talking Heads~*~

          Believe it or not, dictaphones are actually pretty reliable devices for deciding what age range an individual falls into. That shouldn't be all you rely on, mind. Asking 'what age are you?' is probably the best indicator, unless the askee is my mother, in which case the answer will always be the slightly baffling 'older than my teeth but younger than my feet'. Dictaphones, though, give you a handy ten year window in which to pigeonhole your acquaintances. I say this because, when I was a kid, dictaphones were about the size of walkmans and came with a mini-cassette tape that was about half the size of an ordinary C60 (some of you will be remembering all this paraphernalia fondly. Other, younger, people will be wondering what the hell I'm talking about. To those of you in the latter camp I say this: CDs have no soul). They had a mere 4 buttons: play, stop, record and fast-forward. If you wanted to rewind the tape you had to turn it over and fast-forward the other side. To record, you had to hit play and record exactly simultaneously, or it would make an awful squealy-juddery noise, and you'd have to stick a pencil through one of the reels and spool all the tape back in. It was a simpler time, my friends. Not a happier one, though, because Pete Waterman had a stranglehold on the charts and nothing good could ever have come from that. If you're even older than me, you'll remember dictaphones as sizeable devices requiring two hands to carry, that came with an attached microphone that you needed to hold within an inch of the person's mouth to get anything approaching reasonable sound quality. Obviously, toting something the size of a baby grand around and then shoving a microphone in the person's face made covert recording a bit tricky. If you're older than, say, my mum, a yearning to record someone's voice meant you needed a wax cylinder and a pointy thing with which to carve it.


          ~*~Are Friends Electric~*~

          As Bob-Dylan-who's-done-alright-for-himself-despite-always-singing-in-the- exact-same-key-as-the-average-hoover could tell you, the times they are a-changing. Ginormous dictaphones requiring fiddly tapes are a thing of the past. Everything is electronic, and hurrah for that. Weeny little dictaphone tapes, in my case, are very lose-able or prone to breaking, and manually fast-forwarding and rewinding through a tape that you need to transcribe gets very tedious indeed after the first 5 minutes.

          I recently needed a dictaphone because I had to tape an hour's session with a person I was counselling so that I could be assessed on my performance (the client in question wasn't suicidal when he left which is always a good sign, I feel). The tape then had to be transcribed word-for-word, so the chosen dictaphone had to have good recording clarity. I also needed something that I could place discreetly in the therapy room and which the client and I would be as unaware of as possible; the old adage about that which is observed altering its behaviour holding very true. Other requirements were: good battery life, long(ish) recording time, a recording format that could be transferred relatively easily to a PC and a price tag of less than 50 quid.

          And so off I went to Amazon, because I am lazy and because the blokes in my local Maplin all look like they've been sequestered in a small room for the last twenty years, happily playing network Doom and unlearning the principles of basic hygiene and conversational skills.

          I ordered the snazzily-named Olympus VN-5500PC purely because it fulfilled all the criteria above, Olympus is a brand I know and trust and because Amazon had reduced it by 14 quid to £35.99.

          A week or so later it arrived, and after taking it, the battery, the USB cable, the guarantee and the instruction manual out of the box, I promptly lost everything except the dictaphone, so don't expect an in-depth discussion on the merits of the instruction manual. That I, who am a techno-eejit, can make it work without the aforementioned should tell you that it's pretty user-friendly.

          The dictaphone itself is tiny: 4 inches long, 1 ½ inches wide and ½ an inch deep, so easily concealable in a handbag or a shirt pocket for those of you who entertain notions of becoming an international spy. Mine is a dull silver colour, which makes it quite unobtrusive. The buttons include the standard stop, record, fast-forward, rewind as well as one to scroll through the folders, a menu button and an erase button. On the side is the 'hold' slider button which turns it on. At the top is the inbuilt microphone, although there is also a port should you wish to plug in an external microphone, as well as a port for earphones. Playback is via a small speaker at the back.

          Right: that's enough of the dull stuff. All you need to know is that it looks nice and has all the requisite buttons. There's no point in giving you a tedious run down of exactly how it works, because that's the kind of thing you'll figure out yourself should you buy one. With that in mind, on to more important things:


          ~*~The Sound Quality~*~

          Is great. I have to admit that I was dubious about such a light, small device but it picks up everything exceptionally well. For the client I was taping, it was placed on a coffee table a couple of feet away from him and it recorded accurately every sound. Ambient noise is recorded, but is at the 'right' level: the ticking of a clock or the hum of the air-conditioning won't mean that you struggle to hear what the person is actually saying. If, however, you have cause to move the recorder around or it brushes against material, the result will be a *lot* of static. There are settings for 'conference' and 'dictation'. I used the former (because I didn't investigate the menus until just now) and the result was perfect for my needs. I imagine the latter setting would eliminate some of the background noise, but would perhaps need to be placed within a foot or so of whoever was being recorded. Obviously, the speaker on the back of the device is pretty small, but it still gives good enough quality playback to clearly hear every word. It's worth noting that the stop button pauses the file when in playback - pressing play again makes the file run from the same place you stopped. Pressing stop and then rewind will bring you back to the beginning of the recoding. There is an option to listen in slow play and fast play, which is very useful if you're trying to transcribe a recording.

          ~*~The Recording Time~*~

          Is more than you're ever going to need, unless you're interviewing suspects at Guantanamo Bay. There are 5 folders in which to store your recordings, each with space for just under 33 and ½ hours (although this will be in LP mode, which will give poorer playback quality). The two AA batteries that power it probably won't last that long, but are still going strong after an hour's use, and then a couple of hours in my handbag when I'd forgotten to turn it off. That said, there is a battery indicator, but no flashing low battery warning light, so it would be wise to carry spares and keep an eye on the LCD screen.

          ~*~Transfer To PC~*~

          Is very straightforward. I lost the USB cable, but I do remember that it was very short. I used the USB cable from my camera which worked fine. Once plugged in, the computer will recognise the device and install the drivers. From there it will function as any other USB device, allowing you to drag and drop files wherever you want them. Once saved, Windows Media Player or similar can be used to play the files. The only small niggle is that the files are in WMA format; fine for playback on PCs but if you want to write the files onto a CD to be played on a stereo (as I did) you'll have to spend an hour or so figuring out how to convert the files to MP3 format.*


          And now that I've told you most of the stuff you'd want to know, here's a transcript of some of the conversations I accidentally recorded at my aunt's.

          Aunty Anne: Do you want a biscuit?
          Fiona: No thanks.
          AA: Cake? I could make a cake?
          F: Wouldn't that take a while?
          AA: I suppose. Cheese? Crackers? What about some roast salmon?
          F: it's only 10.30 in the morning.
          AA: You're right. Isn't it very rainy? How fast do you think the rain falls? Would it be a hundred miles an hour?
          F: Um, I'm not sure, but I think not. I think we'd have to stop calling it 'rain' and start calling it 'deadly watery missiles'

          ...later...

          AA: Don't you have a bike in Donegal, Fiona?
          F: I do, aye.
          AA: Do you use it much?
          F: Sometimes, but the roads and the drivers are a bit scary up there.
          AA: Does Neelix ever use it?
          F: Neelix? Ever use the bike?
          AA: Yes
          F: Neelix...the dog?
          AA: Mm-hmm
          F: No. No, he doesn't, no. Because he's a dog.
          AA: Ach. I see now.
          F: Good.
          AA: His feet wouldn't reach the pedals, would they?

          ...later...

          AA: (Discussing recent unrest in Derry) Aren't there a shocking number of bad men in the world?
          F: There are, yes.
          AA: And it's always the men. You wouldn't catch a woman doing war, not at all you wouldn't. Women have too many other things to be doing. By the time I've finished the laundry and been to mass and cooked my dinner, sure I wouldn't have time for war. I can just about manage Coronation Street.
          F: Mm-hmm
          AA: D'you know who was a very bad man?
          F: Hitler?
          AA: Aye him, right enough. But more recently, I mean. Ban Ki-moon.
          F: From the UN?
          AA: Yes, him.
          F: The Korean guy?
          AA: Is that what he is? Yes, him. A terrible man.
          F: Are you sure? I know there were rumours about Boutros Boutros-Ghali...
          AA: No definitely him. He was awful to his people, you know. Killed them, he did. Those poor wee babies...
          F: Wait, I'd need to check but I don't think Ban Ki-moon has ever been the leader of a country.
          AA: No, Fiona, *definitely* he was. I know that for definite. He and his ones killed thousands.
          F: And they still made him Secretary General of the UN? Does that not seem a bit...
          AA: Ah, wait now. D'you know who I meant? Idi Amin. That's the one. He was a bold pup, that one.
          F: Indeed he was.


          Now, I can't guarantee that ownership of this dictaphone will guarantee you some quality mad conversations, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

          *Because I am lovely, I shall save you some time and energy. Use http://media.io/ which will convert files smaller than 250MB for free. Never say I don't do anything for you.

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        • Product Details

          With PC connection and all advantages of an USB mass storage device, the Olympus VN-5500PC increases versatility by allowing you to download files onto your computer for filing, archiving or sharing your digital voice files via email. In addition to sturdy design and high-quality recording and playback in WMA file format, features like VCVA recording or index-marks are also included. The VN-5500PC comes with 512MB memory capacity and manages more than 221 hours' digital recording (LP mode).

          Technical Data

          Product Description: Olympus VN-5500PC - voice recorder
          Product Type: Voice recorder flash based
          Dimensions (WxDxH): 10.2 cm x 1.9 cm x 3.7 cm
          Weight: 63 g
          Playback Digital Standards: WMA
          Sound Output Mode: Mono
          Built-in Display: LCD
          Built-in clock: Yes, timer, alarm
          Flash Memory: 512 MB
          Speaker(s): 1 x speaker - built-in - 180 mW
          Microphone: Microphone - built-in - electret condenser - mono
          Interface Supported: Hi-Speed USB
          Battery: 2 x battery - AAA type
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