Olympus DM-1 Digital Recorder and MP3 Player
by Claudia Bauer
You've got a lot to do, and you may already carry plenty of tools to do them withPDA,
cell phone, pager. But it's time to make room for one more: the Olympus DM-1 Digital
Recorder and MP3
Player. It's sleek and slender and, at a mere 3.1 ounces, it more than pulls
its weight with powerful and easy-to-use features: voice recording (with integrated
voice activation), indexing, playback, downloading to a PC, MP3 storage and playback,
and much more.
And it fits in the palm of your hand. If you're traveling, this pint-sized
productivity tool is easy to stash in a pocket, briefcase, or in your carry-on
It's so easy
Two things make learning to use the Olympus DM-1 simple and quick. First, all
the functions operate in the same way, meaning that to turn any function on
or off, you press the same buttons in the same orderthere's only one pattern
to learn. Second, the clear, well-illustrated instructions walk you through
each step, so you can get started right away.
It's easy to like the way the DM-1 looks, too, with its sleek shape and matte
metallic blue cover, which is slick and modern (and doesn't show fingerprints).
The silver-finish buttons are conveniently and intuitively placed, although
the small volume wheel is on the top and the ON/OFF switch is on the back.
The DM-1 comes with a slip-in case that secures with VelcroŽ; because
it covers the record button, volume wheel, and a couple of other basic command
controls, it is useful mostly as protection during storage or transport. Another
protective feature is a "hold" function, which keeps the unit from
accidentally running if it bumps into something in your pocket, purse or briefcase.
Batteries or the USB connection (see below) give the DM-1 its power;
an AC adapter is available separately.
Recording and Playback 101
A powerful and, frankly, fun little tool for business or personal use, the Olympus
DM-1 lets you record notes, meetings, conversations, interviews, and dictation
at the touch of a button, then store each voice file in one of the 3 built-in
digital folders. You might choose Folder A for personal recordings, Folder B
for meeting notes, Folder C for dictation (you can name the folders for easy
identification, then rename them later for a new purpose).
The 3 folders hold up to 199 files each, up to the large recording capacity.
The included 64 MB SmartMedia card allows 10 hours and 20 minutes in Standard
Playback mode, and 22 hours and 10 minutes in Long Playback mode. For even more
recording time, add a 16 MB or 64 MB SmartMedia card, both available from Hello
Running time is displayed on the large LED screenwhich is as big as a
cell phone screenduring recording and playback. The sound files are stored
in the order they're created; for easy organization, they can be labeled and
moved from one folder to another.
The DM-1 doesn't allow you to edit within a file (e.g., move segments of the
recording from one place to another). However, with the handy indexing feature
you can create and delete tags anywhere during recording and playback; because
you can put up to 16 tags in each file, it's easy to find important sections
with the push of a button. You can also skip past files or folders, delete single
files or the entire contents of a folderjust like that.
The record function can be operated manually or switched to Variable Control
Voice Actuator (VCVA), which starts the recording when it picks up sound. VCVA
assures that you don't miss anything after a break in speech and it saves battery
power by not recording during silences.
The Olympus DM-1 Recorder/Player offers 3 ways to listen to recordings: 1) through
the included earbud earphones; 2) through the built-in speaker; or 3) through
your PC (see below). I found the sound to be crisp and clear, with almost none
of the warbling that sometimes happens with a digital recording. The earbuds
are perfect for listening at your desk, on public transportation, or when you
need privacy, and they will also come in handy when you need to check the recording
during a meeting.
A button adjusts the microphone sensitivity: Use Conference mode for picking
up several voices in a room, such as a meeting or group discussion; use the
less-sensitive Dictation mode for one-on-one interviews or, obviously, dictation.
There's an input for an external mic (not included), which is recommended for
recording in very noisy environments.
Getting your PC involved
Sometimes just listening is not enough. The DM-1's PC connectivity, enabled
by the included Digital Speech Standard (DSS) software, lets you download recordings
to your PC's SmartMedia card for e-mailing, backing up, listening, and storage.
(The unit comes with one 64 MB card, and additional 64 MB cards are available,
#6089. Listening to and storing files on the PC saves space and battery power
on the recorder itself, freeing it up for new recordings. With e-mail, you can
share files with others who also have the software.
All the software is included and an online help feature walks you through setup
and operation. To connect the DM-1 to your PC's USB port (required), use the
cable provided; the cable also powers the DM-1, so you don't use up valuable
battery life while working with the PC connection. The instruction book takes
you through each step of the process.
Listening to music
Now for the even-more-fun partlistening to music. With a USB port and
the included MusicMatch Jukebox software, you can download MP3s for listening
through a headset or the recorder's speaker. You can download as much as 60
minutes of music on the DM-1's 64 MB SmartMedia card, depending on the amount
of information in the music file.
A couple of features assure good sound quality. The first is a built-in equalizer
that can be set for rock, pop, jazz, or custom, which lets you adjust the sound
levels for the best balance. The DM-1 also utilizes WOW technology, which lets
you enhance the surround sound and the bass effect to your liking.
It's also got the custom commands of a CD player: repeat, random, skip, fast
forward, and rewind, plus you can label each MP3 and lock it so it can't be
erased accidentally. You can even set the alarm to play a file, whether a voice
message or an MP3, at any given timejust don't forget to turn that function
off before going into a board meeting!
Easy to understand, easy on the eyes, and easy to get hooked on, the Olympus
DM-1 Digital Recorder and MP3 Player is a fantastic handheld recorder that can
do a lot more than record and play back. To organize, label, download, and e-mail
your voice files, and enjoy music, too, just slip the DM-1 in your pocket. Life
And when you're waiting in seemingly endless lines at the airport, this little
recorder is the perfect companion. Get work done while you're waiting, or play
The Olympus DM-1 is PC-compatible; at this time there is no Macintosh version
Operating system: Windows 98, 98SE, Me, 2000 Professional
Intel Pentium 200 MHz processor or better
32 MB of RAM
70 MB hard disk space
12X CD-ROM drive
One free USB port
Creative Labs Sound Blaster 16 or 100% compatible sound card
Speaker or headset outlet
SVGA or higher color video display card (minimum resolution 800x600)
Internet connection and web browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 or later)