LFH7670 Voice Tracer 

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If you have trouble reading your own scrawl after a hasty note-taking session then perhaps you should consider a voice recorder as an alternative method.

Designed to be eminently portable with regards to space and weight, the LFH7670 is part of Philips Dictation Systems new range of Digital Voice Tracer models. As part of the giant Philips conglomerate, the Dictation division has come up with a product that certainly looks the part. Measuring 33 x 110 x 19mm (W x L x D) and weighing a mere 50g, the LFH7670 fits comfortably into the hand. In this position all the controls are generally within easy reach of fingers and thumbs as you make adjustments and set the recording in motion.

The unit’s main casing is silver aluminium in colour while a sand metallic aluminium fascia surrounds the LCD display and navigation control wheel. The LCD provides clear information regarding the current file, folder, settings and play time. This information will change as you make use of the menu system to adjust the standard settings.

The units built-in 32MB of flash memory allows you to have up to 986 minutes (16 hours) of recording time in long play mode or half this with standard play. Other settings under user control allow switching between low and high sensitivity for recording in different environments and turning on or off the VOR settings. With VOR turned on the voice recorder will react to periods of silence, as you might get during a discussion, by switching to hold mode in order to save on memory. The recorder will also switch itself off if no function is activated within one minute – unfortunately you can not adjust this setting.

Individual note taking sessions are automatically saved as numbered files. Up to 99 files can be saved in each of four folders giving you a maximum of 396 files. These recordings can be made either using the built-in microphone or a separate external microphone that forms part of the supplied ear-piece unit.

When using this external ear-piece / microphone you will need to insert a pair of mini jack plugs into the appropriate sockets found on top of the unit. While the sockets are clearly marked, the same could not be said of the jack plugs. You have to look very carefully, I was reduced to using a magnifying glass for this purpose, to spot a minute symbol on each jack plug. For some inconceivable reason, these symbols are shown as black on black and, as such, are extremely difficult to spot.

Situated along the right side of the recorder are the volume wheel and buttons that double for record/pause and stop delete. Earlier I mentioned that these controls were in easy reach but really that only applies to those who are right handed. Using the front-mounted navigation control you can access the menu feature, change between the four folders that are available, skip between any files and play or pause a recording.

Recordings can easily be moved between the unit and computer in either direction. Appropriate software and a USB cable are bundled with the package for this purpose. The USB port is concealed on the left side of the recorder. The supplied software will also allow you to convert your voice files into WAV format. However you should be aware that this conversion process does increase the size of the file substantially.

The LFH7670 is powered by two AAA batteries. Under normal conditions this should give you approximately eight hours of recording time. Playback is slightly more demanding on the batteries with the result that only seven hours will be available.

Given the choice of listening to playback from the built-in speaker or ear-piece then there was only one winner. I found that using the ear-piece resulted in better quality. For size and weight the LFH7670 does fit the bill but I was disappointed somewhat with the audio quality that was produced. However at £99 you do get an impressive 16 hours of storage which should be enough for most users.

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