Money may not be an object to some, but plenty of folks either can't afford the pro- or mid-level digital voice recorders or they could care less about all the high-end features piled into these pricier units. For those who prefer to pass on the extra frills and don't have the patience often needed to master more complex units, the Olympus VN-702PC (*Est. $60) is a solid digital voice recorder for note-taking, capturing class lectures, and getting your thoughts down for later.
Reliability and ease of use are important considerations in finding the best digital voice recorder, and the Olympus VN-702PC does well on both of those counts. It's intuitive to use, even for those with limited experience. This recorder's small, super portable size lets you slip it into a pocket easily, making it great to take with you on the go. It records in both MP3 and the lower-quality WMA formats, and user reviews at consumer sites like Amazon.com, Staples.com and BHPhotoVideo.com rate it highly across the board for overall sound quality and usability.
Like many digital voice recorders on the cheaper end of the spectrum, the Olympus VN-702PC has its quirks too. One of the biggest complaints among users is poor playback volume and sound quality when listening to recordings through the built-in speaker. That's not uncommon among budget-priced units, including the even lower priced Olympus DP-201 (*Est. $35) , though using headphones makes a big difference.
The smaller Olympus DP-201 certainly hits the sweet spot in price but lacks even some of the most basic features that most users look for in a recorder. It can't transfer recorded files to a computer, for example, which is one of the big reasons why it lags behind the Olympus VN-702PC. There's no way to expand its memory beyond the internal 2 GB flash memory either, which means you have to delete old files when the memory runs out to make room. Also, the recorder only supports lower-quality WMA format; the positive in that is the built-in 2 GB can hold more than 200 hours of recordings (at the lowest quality setting). But despite those negatives, the DP-201 earns praise among those who keep their expectations reasonable and use this very basic digital voice recorder for simple recording tasks.