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As others have mentioned, this thing is TINY. You can't get a sense of that from looking at the photos online, but when you get it in your hands, you see just how svelt this device is. It has a good quality feel, is logically laid out, and looks good, too. Most importantly, it does a very nice job of recording if you don't ned XLR mics and just want a good, solid sound with a moderately low floor noise and excellent sonics. The microphones on this unit, protected by the bars that go over them, do an excellent job, and you may never need anything else. However, if you really need to use a specific mic, there is a 3.5" standard jack to attach an external mic. The unit records both in mp3 and lossless pulse code modulation (up to 96kHz at 24-bits) and I've made some really first-rate audio recordings using that format. The unit has 16Gb built-in memory, which is fine, but also has a micro SDXC slot, and I've put in a 400Gb card into it and it handles it just fine, so you can record hundreds of hours on a single card.
This is really a nice player at a more than reasonable cost for what it does. The front display is easy to read and is large enough to get a lot of information on it. You can download the Sony software onto your cellphone and control recording (including levels) using the phone via a Bluetooth connection, which is really terrific. Oh, and by the way, the unit DOES have auto record level, but you would never know it ... you have to dig into the menu system to engage it (I can't figure out why this is so "hidden," but that's another matter). An easy five stars.
Note: If you need an essentially "noiseless" floor, go for the Sony PCM-D100. Released in 2014, it is still the reigning champ of portable recording (unless you absolutely require XLR mics, which the D100 does not support). The recording ability of this unit is almost unbelievably good. It's pricey, but nothing in the product rage can match its microphones and preamps.
I can't speak to the technical aspects of recording fidelity on this device, but based on my experience with numerous other Sony devices (including a high-end digital Walkman), i have no doubt that the quality is as good as it gets in this price range and for the size of these mikes. The durability is fine, though i would have appreciated an aluminum body, glass window/display, and slightly more robust controls (they're not bad, but a bit plasticky when metal might have added little cost). I like the flexibility for a many potential future different use cases afforded by different recording density and format options, separate mike and headphone inputs, well integrated USB charger, internal battery, ability to extend memory vastly with an SC card, and bluetooth. Over time, i'm sure i'll use more and more of these features, and since these devices last for years, i'm happy to have something that i'll keep reaching for rather than regretting that some $39 unit just doesn't do this or that.
In about a day's use with 1-2 hours of recordings, the playback has sounded great and i can hear the details clearly (voice recordings so far). I can envision using this for dictating voice-to-text digital transcription by recording on the device and then playing it back to Windows or Dragon (I think Windows uses a version of Dragon anyway), to transcribe, as long as you dictate for digital transcription (i.e., speak slowly and clearly, provide commands for sentence control, etc.)
But what i really, really like about this unit is the built-in tripod mount thread. You can get a little table top tripod, like the Manfrotto pixi, and set this up solidly on a desktop to make recordings. WIth a stable mount, you can easily activate the main controls (on/off, start/stop recording, etc.) without it sliding around. By elevating it off the surface, i think it also reduces noises that might come through the table top, and lets you orient the mike towards the subject once you're happy with the positioning.
I'm a sound designer, I've gone through many field recorders. For the price this is hands down the best field recorder you can get. Especially if you're on a budget and looking for something very portable.
Great recorder. Unbelievably clear audio, remote start via app, easy charge via USB, and Bluetooth playback. All works as advertised. If you’re a journalist who needs clear, easy recording, you won’t be disappointed.