This has to be one of the most handy pieces of equipment i am currently using. The WS-331M Dictaphone made by Olympus is compact, leighweight, easy to use and boast a massive 2Gb worth of storage meaning that you can hold up to 30 hours worth of recordings on the device aswell as holding up to 500 songs if you want to use it as a music player.
One big bonus with this device is that the case splits into two revealing a Usb connection meaning that you can plug the whole unit straight into your computer without having to worry about carrying around a seperate USB lead.
The feel of the dictaphone is slightly plasticy but that seem to be the compromise you make for it being so light and it still does what it needs to do.
There is a 3cm by 2cm screen that displays the total recording time left and that has elapsed! The controls are very easy to use with a simple stop, record and play buttons on the side as a pad with directional arrows to navigate menus and fast forward or rewind the recording.
For the size of this device the sound quality is very good although i would reccomend purchasing the external microphone to boost the volume levels.
I have been working with a fair amount of audio and visual equipment recently, and one of the items I have come across has been this one, amongst various other dictaphones, or digital voice recorders.
The Olympus WS 331 is a very compact digital voice recorder, and is in the same 'series' as the 210 and 110 recorders in the WS series from Olympus. The 331 has a substantially larger memory, with its 2 GB capacity allowing up to 555 hours' worth of recording time. This is particularly useful for people wishing to set long periods of recording to keep in a series of pieces, although 555 hours is more than enough for anyone (!) and requires changing the record speed to the highest level, thus reducing the quality of the recording somewhat. Optimum quality recording will give you less hours, but still plenty to perform the tasks you need. However, music transferred onto the device will take up longer amounts of memory, which you can transfer onto the device using its USB function.
It's an easy recorder to use, and the buttons are clearly marked. If you have 'fat finger' syndrome like I do, it may prove a little more difficult to get all the buttons, but so long as you are careful, this shouldn't cause too much of a problem.
The device is just under 10cm long, and is only 4cm wide and 1cm thick, making it incredibly easy to transport - it's about half the size of an average mobile phone!
Once you have recorded, it is easy enough to scroll through the material, and if you would rather do so on another form of media, the device has an in-built USB device connection so you can plug it straight into a PC or laptop. Just pull the top and bottom apart and the USB is on the inside. This is also handy for the quick transferral of data if you have finished and want to move it to a PC or laptop, then wipe the data from the recorder and use it again.
This does have its drawbacks. For a start, the size can be a disadvantage as well as an advantage, as the screen is therefore smaller, as are the buttons. It is also expensive, retailing at over £100. You can currently buy the Olympus WS 331 from amazon.co.uk from around £84 for a used device, or from £91.98 for a brand new one. I do recommend this product, but if you don't necessarily need so many hours of recording or such a high amount of memory, the Olympus WS 110s or the 210s are available from amazon.co.uk for around £40 or £50 respectively. However, the 331 is a great device, especially if you want some music on there too.