Sony's SCD-BM1 professional-level digital recorder is a full functioning dictating machine that can accommodate up to 345 minutes of recording with the supplied removable 16MB Memory Stick. Features of this recorder include a slide-control switch operation; digital pitch control, which speeds up or slows down the playback with normal pitch; PC application software, which is compatible with Dragon NaturallySpeaking Preferred voice-to-print software; USB connectivity for high-speed copying of files to the PC (the USB cable is included); digital voice editor software (includes CD-ROM to load software onto your PC); selective automatic folder copy function to the PC; and the ability to have up to 340 personally named folders, using the PC.
The ICD-BM1 also has voice e-mail function, Hi/Lo mic sensitivity, a built-in microphone and playback speaker, priority setting and digital overwrite/cut function.
The size and shape are excellent, easily slipping into a coat pocket and back out again when needed. I love the professional feeling of it in my hand with its all metal case. It's not too small to be useful, and not too big for my pocket. Use the supplied case, complete with a pocket to hold 2 spare aaa batteries, to make sure it doesn't turn itself on and off in you pocket.
Two different levels of recording, dictation and conference, are useful for different situations. When you want to just record a roomful of people, or you want to record someone at a distance, just use the conference setting and it picks up every barely audible mumble. And it's sensitive enough to capture music and speeches that you may not be right next to, also. When I was recording B.B. King's performances and the Royal Wedding, I just set it to conference. It's not perfect sound, but good enough. And the recording of the music of the Royal wedding brings back all the magnificence of that experience.
Using the supplied USB cable, it was fairly easy to work with my PC or laptop for creating personalized folder names and lots of them. However, without a PC handy, the user must use the generic supplied folder names pre-programmed into the recorder and there are many of those to chose from.
The supplied Sony Digital Voice Editor Software allows you to easily convert the default Sony .msv files to a host of other formats including several types of .dvf, .wav and .msv. The samples here were easily converted choosing PC/Convert Files to WAV (auto-conversion).
Be careful, though, of the overwrite functions. It's somewhat easy to accidentally hit overwrite when you intend to hit play which made it necessary for me to always view the display to make sure it read recording and not overwrite. When overwrite was displayed, I needed to change folders which made organization difficult. Perhaps long-term usage could make this less of problem, but it can be frustrating.
It's also slightly cumbersome to have to reconnect the PC back to the handheld unit to move saved folders around. It can be done, but the process of reconnecting the hardware seems to be needlessly labor-intensive.
And there's no pause button! If the phone rings, the convenience of simply pausing a sound file would be great. Because of having to stop and start again, many times in the beginning I'd overwrite recorded messages. This, in my opinion, is one of the ICD-BM1'S biggest problems.
When Sony designed this product, they really played up its usability. I love the one-finger easy use design. Also, users are able to record in segments, which makes searching and deleting less of a chore. I can record segment one, segment two and segment three, then easily go back to each individual segment.
Although not the perfect device, I will certainly miss this recorder. It's compact, easy-to-use, and provides quality recordings. Over my flimsy laptop speakers, the sound quality is impressive. Greater quality speakers can only enhance the sound.
MSRP: $299.95, but numerous specials are available, I have seen it as low as $239.95.
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