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So You Want a Digital Recorder for Your Law Practice

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By Andrew Lu on August 27, 2012 6:59 AM

A digital recorder is an essential tool for most lawyers.

You'll often find yourself in a situation where you wished you could turn back time and remember a detail in a client meeting or an important note at a deposition. Or you could find yourself struggling to remember a client's voice and intonation as you evaluate the strength of your case.

That's where a digital voice recorder comes into play. Most modern digital recorders allow you to record hours of speech. But with the wide range of digital recorders on the market (all with different price points), you may be wondering which digital recorder is best for the modern lawyer.

A recent review took a look at four popular digital recorders. The group surveyed a Coby voice recorder priced at $40, Phillips recorder ($280), Olympus ($300), and a Sony ($200). So is it worthwhile to purchase the most expensive one?

Perhaps not surprisingly, the lawyerly answer of "it depends" applies to digital recorders for lawyers too.

Generally, all of the models reviewed by Law Technology News perform the basic function of recording sound at the push of a button and they all come with external jacks so you can hook up the recorder to a speaker, reports Law Technology News.

However, where the differences in price come into play is at the quality of the sound recording. The Phillips and Sony models were found to have accomplished "perfect" speech reproduction, meaning that you may be able to capture minute details of a person's speech as if you were in the same room. This could be key to attorneys.

Notably, the most expensive Olympus model did not have achieve nearly this same level of sound quality and did not even offer stereo sound. The cheapest Coby didn't offer these either.

So why would someone buy the Olympus? With the extra money, you'll get a backlit LCD. Plus you can input demographic data like author identification, work type, date, and time, directly into the sound file, writes Law Technology News. If those are important enough features for you, you may want to invest in the Olympus at the sacrifice of sound quality.

Not all digital recorders are created equal. Every individual lawyer will have unique needs for a digital recorder. You should identify your needs first and then shop for the best recorder. If you just want to record sound, a Coby may be ideal. But if you want near perfect reproduction of speech, it may be worthwhile to invest in a Phillips or Sony.

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