Dec 13 2006
iTalk Pro from Griffin Technology
The iPod is primarily a playback machine, but thanks to accessories and a little help from Apple that’s not true of voice memos. Today we have three choices, Belkin’s TuneTalk, ExtremeMac’s MicroMemo and Griffin’s iTalk Pro. Today were looking at Griffin’s iTalk Pro.
Looks aren’t everything, but when strapping something to your iPod it needs to look at home. The first thing you’ll notice about the iTalk Pro is that it looks perfectly at home on your video iPod. The flat glossy face and metal back blends perfectly with a black iPod. Its too bad this effect is lost on the new aluminum nanos.
The iTalk is light and small, and snaps right on the doc connector. A red ring lights up to let you know you’re recording. The only button on the iTalk starts and stops recording (and adjusts gain settings) and a mini-jack microphone input is hiding on the bottom.
Thanks to Apple’s built-in support, the recording experience is very iPod and identical across recording devices. Voice memo’s are named with the time and date and are accessible from the Voice Memos menu (under Extras). On the next dock, iTunes will find the recordings and ask to import them (removing them from the iPod). The process is simple and fast.
The iTalk sports two stereo microphones in addition to the minijack input. You can (and for best recording quality should) adjust the gain level to high, low or automatic. In my test recordings, I found the auto and high gain to be too sensitive, resulting in pops. Speech alone didn’t make the pops obnoxious, but with the dynamics of music the popping killed the recording.
Once I’d adjusted the gain down, the popping was eliminated. Aside from the gain issues I experienced, I found the audio quality to be very good – more than acceptable for podcasting on the go.
Recoding drains the battery fairly quickly – fast enough that my 30 gig video would run out of power in about an hour by my estimation. So, while Griffin suggests the iTalk is great for recording lectures, it is probably better used for shorter recordings of dictation, podcast or interviews.
The Belkin recorder does have a USB pass-through that you can use to power your iPod while recording – but this is much less useful than it sounds. It still requires a power brick and outlet or laptop to power the recording pod. And if you’re going to bring your MacBook along you might as well use that to record. The iTalk is going to work best for short, on-the-go recording.
Documentation is sparse. This isn’t really a big deal. Push button to record, right? Among iPod recording devices, the iTalk is a great pick. It’s less expensive and better looking that the alternatives (particularly if you have a black video), sounds very good and is easy to use.
If you are expecting to record longer than an hour at a time or looking to cut your break-out album on your iPod, the iTalk will disappoint you. If dictating letters, recording thoughts or capturing an interesting conversation is your goal, the iTalk is perfect.
Buy it at Amazon! (Note: at press time, Amazon had the iTalk for almost half off MSRP at $27.50)