Review: Griffin Technology iTalk (2) Voice Recorder
Pros: Excellent microphone-based recording without a need for user adjustments, includes internal and external input/output options in one inexpensive device, plus one-button recording and saving feature that eliminates need to use iPod’s menus for those features.
Cons: Speaker output is only acceptable, 8 KHz monaural sampling limitations of iPod limit utility of peripheral for many users. Further improved version may debut soon.
Ever since we first heard about it, Griffin has called the new version of its popular iTalk Voice Recorder (iLounge rating: A-) by the name “iTalk 2.” But recent developments have changed that, and now the device will be called simply iTalk. As it turns out, the name change is fitting: the second-generation version of iTalk is far less ambitious of an upgrade than we were originally told to expect, and basically does only one new thing.
It adds a button to the top of the old iTalk. This chrome button, located to the left of the unit’s top input/output port, gives you one-press recording and stop/save features, so that you no longer need to use the Click Wheel or iPod buttons to start and stop your recordings. It’s a pleasant addition to the iTalk, but barely significant enough to warrant a full re-review of what is otherwise an unchanged accessory. All things considered, we think of it more as iTalk 1.3 than iTalk 2.
(To hear how the new iTalk sounds, check out our August 26, 2005 Week in Review podcast here, where we’ve done an outdoor audio review of the device along with a sample clip from Griffin’s new iFM accessory, which also has recording capabilities. You can also hear a podcast recorded solely with the original iTalk at this link.)
But we can’t neglect to mention a few summary facts. Though iTalk has had a few competitors since its early 2004 release, none have been able to touch its overall package: a small but acceptable speaker, a very good microphone with automatic (analog) gain control for proper recording of sounds in a room, and a dual-purpose port that either acts as a headphone pass-through or a microphone input, depending on what you’ve connected. While the quality of recordings is limited by the iPod to a 8KHz sampling rate, and appropriate only for recordings of conversations, dictation, or lectures, it’s easy to comprehend what’s being said - certainly easier than with other iPod recording devices. We’ll refer you back to the original review for the rest of the details, but the new iTalk preserves all of those features and its prior price tag.
The major disappointment here is that the new iTalk may or may not be the final version of the device. According to the company, iTalk 2 was supposed to be a true sequel with a brand new digital automatic gain feature for superior recording quality. Because of a component shortage, that feature, along with a software package with some cool post-recording features, aren’t part of the iTalk packages that will be shipping in the immediate future. But Griffin intends to re-evaluate component evaluation within the next two months and slip the superior chips in as soon as they’re available.
That puts us in a quandry. The new iTalk is unquestionably the best of breed, and nothing has yet been released that knocks it out or changes our feelings that it’s a highly recommendable product. But something with better recording ability may - emphasis, may - be on the horizon from Griffin.
So our feelings are these. If you buy this new iTalk, you’ll be very impressed with its recording quality and features - more impressed than you would be by any of its competitors, without question. But don’t expect to take it back to the store for a replacement if a better version quietly appears. Just as with all consumer electronics, if you want today’s best product today, get this one. Yet if you can afford to wait under the circumstances, consider it.
Based on the nature of the change to this iTalk and its present competition, our rating remains the same as before. If a new follow-up version is released, we’ll consider and review it separately to spotlight the presumably better performance.