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Two new portable digital recorders from Olympus do an excellent job of spanning the gap between being useful voice recorders (for recording memos and lectures), and high-resolution audio recorders (for recording music and detailed ambient sounds). The WS-802 (available in metallic gray and blue) features a pair of sweet sounding condenser microphones and a healthy 4GB of memory (as well as a microSDHC slot). The WS-803 has all of the same features, with the inclusion of a whopping 8GB of internal memory and a built-in FM radio.
Both models share features that make them attractive voice recorders. A "Voice Balancer" function automatically adjusts the recording levels so that multiple voices sound more uniform in volume (so one voice doesn't totally drown out another), as well as noise cancellation (which suppresses background sounds). A "Voice Playback" function skips over non-voice sections of a recording on playback (which is useful for listening to your notes or transcribing).
A retractable USB connector is built into both models, so no cables are required to connect to a computer (Mac and Windows compatible). They're powered by a single AAA battery, and if you have a Ni-MH rechargeable AAA, it will charge when connected to a computer through USB. Both models also feature a built-in speaker.
If you're looking to create high resolution audio recordings of music and ambient sounds, both of these models enable you to record CD-quality 44.1 kHz/16-bit PCM files. The built-in stereo microphones are the best sounding in the WS series. You can adjust the recording sensitivity manually while recording on the WS-802, and fine tune the recording levels when in PAUSE or RECORD on the WS-803. Both models have automatic gain control as well.
You can just listen to the FM radio on the WS-803, or you can choose to record the radio as well. Its 8GB of memory enable you to record up to 2,043 hours of audio (or 12 hours of CD-quality audio). The built-in microSDHC slot is compatible with cards of up to 32GB in size on both models.
|Recording Format||PCM, MP3, and WMA||PCM, MP3, and WMA|
|PCM Recording Time||6 hr||12 hr, 5 min|
|Card Capacity||Up to 32GB||Up to 32GB|
|PC Interface||USB port||USB port|
|Folders Messages||5 / 200 per folder||5 / 200 per folder|
|PCM Frequency Response||40 Hz - 21 kHz||40 Hz - 21 kHz|
|Speaker||18mm round dynamic speaker||18mm round dynamic speaker|
|Microphones||2 x directional condenser||2 x directional condenser|
|Input||1/8" (3.5mm) stereo mic||1/8" (3.5mm) stereo mic|
|Output||1/8" (3.5mm) stereo headphone||1/8" (3.5mm) stereo headphone|
|Power Supply||1 x AAA alkaline or 1 x AAA Ni-MH||1 x AAA alkaline or 1 x AAA Ni-MH|
|Battery Life||Approximately 27 hours (lp)||Approximately 27 hours (lp)|
|Dimensions||3.9 x 1.6 x 0.6" (100.2 x 40 x 14.8mm)||3.9 x 1.6 x 0.6" (100.2 x 40 x 14.8mm)|
|Weight (including battery)||2 oz (57 g)||2 oz (57 g)|