I wanted to be a copywriter, but my first full-time job was of a copyeditor and now am a concoction of a reporter, subeditor, photographer, researcher and an occasional webmaster. Perhaps realising what my ultimate fate was going to be, my brother gifted me a Philips dictaphone (AQ6345) – not the one with the miniature cassettes but the standard size, which doubles up as a personal music player. The sturdy thing gave good service for over four years, but recently it started playing pranks on me, leaving long pauses in recorded conversation coupled with erratic tape speed. Not wanting to take any chances and not being the type who takes extensive notes during an interview, I started researching for digital voice recorders and in the one kilometre radius of my work place, all that I could find were overpriced Sony’s stuff. The lowest model available was for Rs. 6000 and it ‘boasted’ of a 64 MB space.
Then I had the bright idea of going for an MP3 player which also has a voice recording feature. The best options within my budget seemed to be from Samsung, which has a number of digital audio players with voice recording capabilities on display (Online shops had much cheaper ones with ‘more’ features, but they always seemed to be of suspicious quality). I zeroed in to YB-U2X – primarily because I needed the stuff immediately and the nearby Samsung DigitAllhome had only this model in stock. But no regrets.
It cost me Rs. 4,600 (a little bargaining could have reduced a hundred or two, but then I was in a hurry) – the same as an iPod shuffle of 512 MB. The sound quality is as good as an iPod and it has a LCD display and voice recording advantage. Even the dimensions are similar to that of the iPod shuffle. The ‘negative type display,’ i.e., white text on a darker background enhances the readability even in bright conditions. The 512 MB storage should give me 120 songs at acceptable quality and the inbuilt battery goes on and on before the next recharge (it supposedly gives you 13 hours of listening pleasure, but am yet to verify that). The manoeuvrability in the menu isn’t very complex. The record button also doubles up as a user defined button, which comes in very handy. And you can also use it as a USB drive. The preset equalisers and also the user-defined one help in bringing about the precise listening mode. The voice recording is okay, but you need to record it at 128 kbps instead of the default 32 kbps, which sounds a bit muffled.
Drawbacks, at the moment I can see only three. The first is that the battery is internal and can be charged only via a USB port. If you are stuck at someplace without a PC/laptop you’ll be soon drained of music. The other is the earphones. I never seemed to like the design of Samsung’s earphones. Apple is a definite winner in that aspect. The last is the blue lights that flash from both sides of the USB jack (Samsung calls it the ‘Emotional Light Effect’) – but that feature can be turned off.
My first interviewee was quite impressed with the device and started planning an acquisition. One colleague has already made the purchase and another will follow suit. Even my roomie is contemplating. Anyway, with so much talk about iPods it started to get a little boring. Like Nokia isn’t the only ‘good’ mobile phone around, iPod isn’t the only personal digital audio player. Time we brought in some variety.