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By Terry Freedman

If, like me, you like to read magazine reviews before buying equipment, you’re in for some disappointment as far as podcast recording is concerned. The reason is that, whilst a lot of magazines review MP3 devices for their functionality, I haven’t seen anything that deals with the recording side of things beyond mentioning that they have a voice or radio recording feature. So, this review tries to fill the gap!

Rather than try to review every device or manufacturer available, I decided to look at what I thought would be a representative sample. Unbeknownst to the companies concerned, I was not only interested in the device per se, but in the way I was dealt with. The way I look at it is this: if, as an educator, I’m going to be spending a substantial amount of money that could be spent on textbooks or software or whatever, I wanted to know that I am valued.

Another aspect of this side of things is how long it takes to contact someone who can make proper decisions or give support. To be honest, that aspect didn’t quite pan out as I’d hoped because I was dealing mostly with the companies’ PR departments rather than with the companies themselves. Still, on the grounds that you can, at least to some extent, judge a company by the conduct of its representatives, perhaps this approach wasn’t that bad after all. In the event, three of the four companies were very helpful, though Apple was a bit slow due to the small size of its PR team and the fact that I contacted them during the lead-up to an important product launch!

The companies whose products I wished to review were:

  • Apple.

  • iRiver.

  • Creative.

  • Olympus.

So, how did the products shape up?

There are two big things going for the iPod. First, it looks fantastic. Second, there is no shortage of accessories for it.

But the question is, how useful is it for educational podcasting?

Now, I had some frustrating experiences with the iPod. I borrowed one whilst at Alan November’s conference in the USA (see http://www.novemberlearning.com/Default.aspx?tabid=29 for details of the 2006 conference). Unfortunately, something kept going wrong, and it had to keep being reset. Fortunately, there was an Apple person on hand to do it, but I couldn’t help but think how frustrating that would have been had I been back at the ranch. Still, things do go wrong, so I thought I would try again once back in the UK.

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