capsule review

Olympus DS-330

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At a Glance
  • Olympus DS-330

For keeping track of ideas while on the road, handheld tape recorders are hard to beat--until you misplace the cassette you used to dictate your prizewinning novel. Olympus's palm-size DS-330 digital voice recorder eliminates tapes by storing sounds in flash memory, and uploading recordings to your Mac is far less cumbersome than it is with an analog voice recorder.

The DS-330 works in OS 9 and OS X, and it lasts about ten hours on two AAA batteries. The side-mounted rewind, fast-forward, and record buttons are readily accessible, but the stop and play buttons on the front are harder to operate. The recessed volume control at the top is also tough to turn.

The DS-330's 16MB memory can handle as much as two-and-a-half hours of speech at the Standard Playback quality setting. Sound fidelity rivals that of compact analog recorders, even in Long Playback mode, which increases the recording time to more than five hours.

The DS-330 includes software that lets you download sound files in Olympus's DSS (Digital Speech Standard) format from the recorder and listen to them on any USB-equipped Mac. But you can't control playback speed while you're working in another application, so transcription can be tricky. When it's connected to the computer, the recorder doubles as a microphone and speaker, but only in OS X. (Olympus claims that this is a limitation of OS 9.)

Macworld's Buying Advice

Though the DS-330 does have some limitations, you can stop cataloging cassettes and start transferring audio files to your Mac with ease. For taking voice notes and light dictation, it's an excellent choice.

At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Serves as a USB speaker and microphone
    • Makes it easy to transfer recordings to your Mac
    • Compact
    • Good sound quality


    • Some controls are hard to operate
    • Can't control playback from other applications
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