[bct] Re: Olympus WS200S review

  • From: "boomerdad" <boomerdad@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 8 Dec 2005 09:35:49 -0800

MessageWow, that DM-20 sounds perfect for podcasting with the binaural mikes.  
As I recall, the main problem with DS-2 was the shortness of recording time.  
With double the memory, that problem would at least be lessened.

Feel the power...
Wield the magic!...
Gaming at the speed of sound!
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Darren Duff 
  To: E-mail list 
  Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2005 10:26 AM
  Subject: [bct] Olympus WS200S review

  Hi guys.

  Just wanted to share this with you.

  I would like to have some kind of carrying case to carry my WS200S and my 
sptfb2 binaural in ear mikes. If anyone knows of anything like this, could you 
please let me know? thanks.

  a review of the Olympus WS200S. Note that some of the features the author 
talks about are not accessible to the Blind.


  I've been getting lots of mail about my
  enthusiastic review
  of the Olympus DS-2 stereo voice recorder. Several readers wondered what I 
thought of the WS-200S, a smaller, higher-capacity model that came out shortly
  after I finished the review.

  Well, because I really liked the DS-2 but found it a tad too big for my 
(admittedly overcrowded) pocket, I took a chance and bought a WS online after 
  the DS-2. Here's what I discovered.

  Three Amigos

  Left to right: Olympus WS-200S, DS-2, and V-90, the ancient model that got me 
hooked on voice recorders. The WS-200S image is pasted on, but accurately

  As you can see in the photo, the WS is significantly smaller than the DS-2, 
which made it the perfect size for me. What you can't see is that the silver
  and black halves slide apart, revealing a USB plug, which was a feature I 
really wanted in a voice recorder. (The DS-2 requires a mini-USB cable or 
  station to initiate computer file transfers.) There have already been several 
times when the WS saved the day by acting as a pocket flash drive. It also
  has double the memory of the DS-2, 128MB.


  One thing I hadn't thought to try with the DS-2 was playing back prerecorded 
music files. (Its 64MB of memory would hold only an hour of music at a 
  resolution.) But the WS's extra memory inspired me to try, so I dragged a WMA 
music file into the "E" folder. It worked! I could listen to the music through
  the stereo headphone output as well as the WS's 16mm mono speaker. 
Unfortunately, the DS-2 and WS don't play MP3s. Encrypted WMAs and WMAs with 
very high
  bitrates didn't work either. (And as far as I know, there's currently no way 
to make a WMA file on a Mac short of running Virtual PC. Let me know.)

  Unlike the DS-2, the WS has both an on/off switch and a "hold" switch, which 
disables the other buttons so you won't press them accidentally. When the WS
  is switched completely off, it takes about five seconds to boot up, which is 
annoying. However, leaving it on and in Hold mode doesn't seem to drain the
  batteries, so that's what I do; the battery gauge hasn't budged in three 
weeks. Both models take only a second to boot up when switched on from Hold 

  I also found the DS-2 slightly easier to navigate, thanks to its larger, 
better-labeled buttons and larger display.

  Another thing you can't tell from the spec lists is that the WS picks up more 
handling noise than the DS-2. (O'Reilly blogger Giles Turnbull also noted
  this shortcoming in his
  quick review of the WS,
  though it wasn't clear if he had the mics in high-sensitivity mode.) I'm now 
careful not to slide my fingers on the case when recording, and to wait a second
  after the sound I'm recording has stopped before I click the Stop button. 
That lets me chop off the inevitable thump later in my audio editor.

  Speaking of which, the WS doesn't come with Olympus's DSS Player software, so 
to edit recordings, Mac users will have to convert the Olympus WMA files to
  another format. (Several WMA editors exist on the Windows side.) The 
shareware program
  works well for that. I still had the DSS Player software on my computer and 
was happy to see that it worked with the WS as well.

  For transcription, Mac users can try my free AppleScripts, described in "
  Turn Your Mac into an Audio Transcriber.
  " A couple of those scripts started misbehaving in QuickTime 7, so I'm 
currently rewriting them.


  Can't have a shootout without bullet points, can we? Here's a list of the 
benefits each recorder brings to this showdown. (Read my
  full DS-2 review
  for more background.)

  WS-200S Benefits
  List of 7 items
  . Significantly smaller
  . Integrated USB plug
  . Twice the memory
  . Speaker is on the front
  . Uses single AAA battery (DS-2 requires two)
  . Slick-looking dual LEDs
  . Less expensive (currently $103 on Amazon vs. $119 for the DS-2)
  list end

  DS-2 Benefits
  List of 16 items
  . Multisegment recording level meters
  . Backlight
  . Less handling noise
  . Bigger buttons and screen
  . File naming
  . Folder naming
  . Alarm
  . Timer recording
  . Two noise reduction settings
  . More Fast Forward and Slow playback speeds, with better sound quality
  . Looping
  . Bigger, better-sounding speaker (23mm vs. 16mm)
  . Docking station
  . Carrying case
  . Works as USB speaker and microphone
  . Comes with DSS software for editing, converting, and playing back files
  list end

  You might think that getting all that for just $16 more would make choosing 
the DS-2 a no-brainer, and for most people, I'd agree. For me, though, the WS's
  smaller size and integrated USB plug made it the better choice. Because 
uploading recordings to a computer is so easy, I haven't come close to filling
  up the memory with recordings, though I did max it out when using the WS as a 
thumb drive.

  For around $200, you can get a version of the DS-2 with double the memory; 
it's called the

  I also heard from a reporter for Fortune who opted for an
  Olympus DM-20,
  also about $200. This model looks very similar to the DS-20, but with a full 
metal case and the ability to play MP3s. Although it supports optional external
  stereo mics, its built-in mic is mono and has a frequency response that tops 
out at just 8kHz.

  Here are some links for further comparison.

  DS-2 product page
  DS-20 product page
  (not yet listed at Olympus, so this link goes to RadioShack)

  WS-200S product page
  DM-20 product page
  Interactive comparison table


  If size and integrated USB plug are important, get the WS-200S. If tons of 
features and enhanced usability are important, get the DS-2 or DS20. (The 
  and alarm are pretty handy, and so is file naming.) If you want to carry an 
occasional MP3 and don't need built-in stereo mics, go with the DM-20.

  Happy recording!

  Darren Duff.
  Assistive Technology Instructor.
  Blind & Low Vision Services
  Phone  (678)936-6113
  E-mail dduff@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  Blind & Low Vision Services of North Georgia
  3830 S. Cobb Dr.,Ste 125, Smyrna, GA 30080
  Phone (770)432-7280
  toll free (800)726-7406
  Fax: (770)432-5457

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