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Field Report: Ikey-Audio Ikey Plus
Portable recorders are abundant now, and the various models have a range of features and options to suit any need. So what's different about the Ikey Plus? The first difference is that it's priced much lower than any recorder capable of recording high-quality audio files. The low price comes with some sacrifices in features, but it still could find a suitable use in your facility.
The most unique feature of the recording interface is that it uses a USB connector to write to any USB storage device, such as a USB stick, USB hard drive or an Ipod. USB sticks are as common as floppy disks once were, so finding an inexpensive storage medium should be easy.
Measuring 5.43" W x 1.1" D x 3.27" H, the unit is a little larger than a Blackberry. It operates on 4 AA cells or a dc adapter. If rechargeable batteries are used, the dc adapter will charge the batteries, too. Just don't use non-rechargeables when the power supply is attached.
The unit features stereo RCA line inputs and a 3.5mm mic input. The RCA inputs can be selected for line in or phono in. This feature appears to be targeted at consumers who want to transfer vinyl libraries to a digital format. There is a level set adjustment.
On the other end is the dc power jack, power switch, headphone jack (without a level control), a reset button and the USB jack.
The face of the unit has a REC (record) and SEL (select) button. Record starts and stops the recording. Select toggles through the available recording formats: WAV or MP3 at 320-, 256-, 192- or 128kb/s. The audio inputs are fixed at a 44.1kHz sampling rate. LEDs are provided to show the status of the unit. One shows record status/low battery. Five of them show the selected recording format when Select is pushed, but indicate the audio level at any other time. The last LED shows an audio overload or indicates that the unit is busy writing a file.
The face also has an aluminum cover for the battery compartment. This cover can be attached with Phillips screws or finger screws depending on often you need to access the batteries. The unit comes with three covers: silver, red and black.
Overall, the unit works well. It does not have any playback capability, so any recordings must be played from another device. Files are written with a fixed naming convention, so anyone working with multiple recordings may have to wade through several files until the desired file is found.
For my use at the office, I use a 1GB USB stick as the storage media. The recorder is used by non-technical coworkers to record telephone calls for interviews and podcasts. The simple operation makes it easy for anyone to record files. While there is little feedback to verify that a file has been recorded, the unit has worked well with only one instance of a recorder error.
The unit also includes an RCA to RCA cable, a stereo T-shaped mic, the dc adapter and a cloth cover.
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