Olympus WS-801 Digital Voice Recorder
I couldn't decide on whether I wanted the WS-802 or WS-803 in lieu of the WS-801. After research, I found that I didn't need or want the FM Radio on the WS-803, and although nice the PCM recording option with a 21 kHz high frequency response wasn't necessary for my intended application so the WS-802 wasn't needed. I wasn't going to work on musical instruments, but I did want to record engine and exhaust sounds for my GoPro videos. Since people usually play these videos on YouTube which further compresses videos, I felt the 192 kbps MP3 format with a 40 Hz-19kHz frequency response on the WS-801 was adequate.
The WS-801 interface is fairly straight forward. I loved the menu system. The backlight is definitely useful when recording in low-light or night conditions, while the amber LED is a great indicator that it is functioning. I had to refer to the instruction sheet a few times for explanations on certain features, but I was able to figure it out within a few minutes.
The built-in 2GB of memory is more than adequate for most recording duties. The direct USB plug is rather neat but I am unsure of its long-term durability. Speaking of durability, I have a Sony ICD-PX720 that I used maybe 12 times in 2009. It no longer works properly and locks up frequently. The Sony menu system was rubbish because it used shortened phrases that made no sense. It kept saying my NiMH batteries were almost depleted.
The direct USB port makes it difficult to connect the WS-801 when you have limited space, such as a laptop or USB hub. You will want to consider a short USB extension cable.
The Olympus is more graphical and more intuitive. It also provides a lot more information on-screen, such as audio levels for EACH microphone! I was pleasantly surprised to see a pair of microphones on the WS-801 which worked splendidly although I did find myself reducing the recording level due to the sensitivity of the mics.
The WS-801 is compatible with NiMH rechargeable batteries by setting it appropriately when first powered on. It takes a single AAA cell, which makes the WS-801 unit very lightweight.
I really appreciate the direct USB interface without having to use proprietary software to access the sound files. The recordings are stored as MP3 or WMA files which can be directly copied and moved for further post-production editing as needed.
Overall: 5/5 stars, intuitive menu, NiMH compatible, backlit LCD, great quality, lightweight, stereo microphones, outstanding audio frequency response