With its ICD-TX50, Sony has introduced what it's calling its slimmest ever voice recorder. The quarter-inch (6.4mm) device weighs 1.8 ounces (50 g) - combined with its 4 GB memory (plus microSD) the ICD-TX50 should double as a rather nifty lightweight MP3 player. But the device reserves its most impressive specs for the all-important dictaphone functionality.

Most essential is that the device will record up to six hours of 16 bit LPCM 44.1 kHz CD-quality sound, though if you can live with MP3-quality sound you can record between 44 and 178 hours, depending on your selected bitrate and your mono/stereo selection. Should you need to record for such durations, you'll need to connect the recorder to your computer's USB port for that sort of duration, though the lithium-ion battery will apparently last for an impressive 24 hours of MP3-recording, or 18 hours of LPCM. A mere three-minute charge will apparently give an hour's recording.

Other recording features include scene selection (which presumably adjusts how heavy-handed noise filtering is), a low-cut filter and voice-operated recording. Playback features include a digital pitch control, equalizer, search function, though there's no A-B repeat. The latter omission may not prove too much of a loss, though a repeat function is handy when transcribing conversations. The ICD-TX50 is also fully compatible with Dragon Naturally Speaking speech recognition software.

The Sony ICD-TX50: ideal for interviewing one's own feet

Perhaps most impressive is the price. The ICD-TX50 packs all the specs of a high-end dictaphone like the Sony ICD-SX712D into a much slimmer, attractive package, while knocking nearly US$50 from the price (from the Sony store, at any rate). The ICD-TX50 can be had from the Sony store for $149.99, though if you shop around, for instance at online stores named after South American rivers, you can do better.

Bear in mind, though, if you're only likely to be a casual user, and you have a smartphone, you can save a whole bunch o' money, and a bit of pocket space, by downloading an app instead.

Product page: Sony ICD-TX50

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