I like to keep an eye out for audio recording references in pop culture, such as when watching television shows, movies, etc. This past week (June 21st, 2012) on the USA network series, Suits, the character of Louis Litt (an attorney), received a gift from one of the managing senior partners (the despicable Daniel Hardman). When Louis opened the box he saw what appeared to be a hand-held audio recorder. He said "The XJS 5000 Dictaphone. How the hell did he know?"
Several things went through my mind at that point, such as confusion as to why a guy who wears 5-thousand dollar suits would be impressed by a gift like this, especially since his iPhone could do the same thing; and why he would say "how did he know?" as if he had been longing for one of these dictaphones but had not purchased one for himself.
But the most pressing matter was to look up whether there was even such a thing as an XJS 5000 Dictaphone. My wife and I both started with the research, her on the laptop and me on my iPhone/dictaphone.
It turns out that the XJS 5000 was in reality the Sony ICD-SX712 digital voice recorder. (Note: The 712 was apparently discontinued in 2014 and replaced with the Sony ICD-SX733 Digital Voice Recorder - though you can still get them at Amazon). It costs about $190 (US) (though the original 712 is now quite a bit more expensive - probably due to scarcity). And just like the package on Louis' XJS 5000, the Sony boasts hundreds of hours of recording time, which is probably more than an iPhone. Or at least more than you'd want to put on your phone:).
But still I wondered why a lawyer would need one of these; and why, when he probably spends more than that on lunch, Louis had not dropped the 120 bucks to get his own recorder rather than secretly pining away for one.
I don't have any really great answers to these questions. But I decided to look into the features of the Sony ICD. I mean what could possibly be so great about being able to record your voice all the time, especially when you'd have to schlep around yet another electronic thing along with your wallet and smart phone.
One feature did catch my eye - the description that said: Software Prints Out Your Recordings. By the way, that last thing is just for the "D" model (Sony ICD-SX712D), which is a bit more expensive because it comes with Dragon Naturally Speaking software, with which you can "have your dictation files automatically transcribed to text when you upload them to your compatible Windows computer." Since the original 712D is so hard to get now, a great (and cost-effective) substitute is the Philips Voice Tracer DVT2700 for only about $80 US!
That sounds very cool. It turns out that the Sony includes speech-to-text software which converts your recorded audio into text and saves it for you so you can print it out later. Now THAT is handy. I'm constantly grabbing my iPhone to type notes into Evernote. It would certainly be a lot faster to be able to speak to my iPhone and have it create the note for me. No doubt there is a way to make this happen, perhaps via something like the Dragon Dictation app (which is the same company that makes the software for the Sony, BTW).
So I'm still not convinced a lawyer would need a separate digital voice recorder. But for some of us, especially the ones who don't have smart phones already, this can be a pretty cool little tool. If you'd like get a Digital Voice Recorder for yourself, click right here.