The Olympus DS-7000 is a very expensive ($599 list) but full-featured enterprise-focused digital voice recorder, with a number of useful playback and security features including encryption and password protection. But you can get almost all of the same functionality for $100 less in the Olympus DS-3500. The only real discernible difference between the two is the control setup, with the DS-7000 using a slider instead of buttons, and the DS-7000′s ability to toggle to a lower-quality audio file format with a longer recording time.
Design and Features
The DS-7000 looks nearly identical to the DS-3500, with the same dimensions (4.5 by 2 by 0.7 inches, 3.7 ounces) and same sturdy build and comfortable feel. Look on the right edge, however, and you’ll see a ridged slider in lieu of the buttons found on the DS-3500. The slider has four settings, Record, Play, Stop, and Rev with a New button above. It’s easy to use, but I prefer the defined buttons on the DS-3500. Everything else is identical, from the ports to the battery compartment that houses a difficult-to-access microSD card slot.
You can record in DSS/DSS Pro Standard Play or Quality Play. Recording in DSS Quality play on the included 2GB microSD card will net you over 150 hours of recording time, while you get 315 hours in Standard Play. Unlike the DS-3500, you can’t record in WAV or MP3 formats.
The voice activated feature, called VCVA, only records when people are speaking, stopping the recording when things go silent. It not only saves recording space, but it also helps streamline the playback and transcription process—you won’t have to fast forward through breaks. For playback, you can choose between slow, normal, or fast modes, without changing the pitch and tone of voices.
You can set up to 32 index points throughout each recording, which make it easier to navigate during playback. You can also record voice memos during recordings, but I found this feature to be redundant, since you can simply set an index point and speak normally to record a memo.
The included 710mAh battery is rated at up to 26 hours of recording time. I didn’t put that claim to the test, but after two days of intermittent recording and playback, the battery indicator remained full, so I don’t doubt the DS-7000 will last longer than a day.
Performance, Security, and Software
Though the DS-7000 only has two recording modes, they’re likely all you’ll really need. This dictation device is designed for recording long hours of speech, as opposed to crystal clear audio. To that end, the voices sound as fuzzy as those recorded on the DS-3500 in DSS format, but are still very easy to make out, with solid gain. In my tests, I did see some drop off in quality between Standard and Quality Play modes, but seeing as how Quality Play nets you 150 hours on just 2GB of storage, I’d opt for that mode.
The security and software features on the DS-7000 are identical to those found on the DS-3500. You get real-time 128- or 256-bit encryption of recordings and you can password-protect the device itself. To enable encryption you’ll have to use the included Olympus Dictation Management System, and you can also encrypt individual files after recording. The encryption password protects each file or each folder, so they will be inaccessible to anyone without the password.
The included Olympus Dictation Management System software for PCs and Macs (pictured here) comes with a bit of a learning curve, but will get the job done for organizing content and playing back recordings for transcription. It lacks automated transcription, however, so you’ll have to get Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking software separately if you don’t want to transcribe manually.
It’s hard to swallow $500 for the DS-3500, and even harder to justify the extra $100 for the DS-7000, when the DS-3500 delivers almost all the same features. The strength of both of these devices is in their security features and content-management software. The DS-7000 is able to record more on less storage, but you can pick up a 16GB microSD card online for around $15. Ultimately, though, both the DS-3500 and DS-7000 are a bit pricey unless security is of utmost importance to you and your business.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc