by George Heymann

Sony ICD-PX820 Digital Voice Recorder

Looking for a digital voice recorder? The Sony PX820 may be the perfect compromise.

I was looking for a digital voice recorder for use during interviews. I wanted something compact, easy to use and inexpensive. After doing some research, I settled on the Sony ICD-PX820.The PX820 measures 4.3 x 1.4 x 0.7 inches and is a slight 2.2 ounces, which makes it very easy to pack in a gear bag, or to throw in a pocket in a pinch.

The controls are straightforward and very easy to use. They consist of two large round buttons: a record/pause button and a play/stop/enter button. Above these there are two wide slender buttons: divide and and a folder/menu button. Underneath are three additional buttons: a stop recording button, skip ahead one recording or backup up one recording. On the sides of the unit you’ll find a volume up/down rocker switch, erase and repeat (a/b) button (right) and a hold/off button along with a mini USB port on the left. The retail package includes the mini to standard USB cable.

The top of the unit allows you to plug in a headset with the option to insert an external microphone for stereo recording. The built-in mike, positioned in between the headset and microphone jack, has been more than adequate for my use.

The full function LCD displays all the relevant information in an easy to read format (see photo). The built-in speaker has more than enough volume for my needs. The unit uses two AAA batteries and Sony rates the battery life at approximately 26 hours (record) and 30 hours (playtime.) I haven’t used the unit enough to verify these estimates.
Diving further into the PX820 menus, there are selectable folders for the organization of your audio files as well as a divide feature to help you edit long recordings. You can also set your microphone sensitivity settings, recording quality settings as well as setting a 12/24-hour clock .
The PX820 has 2GB of built-in memory that offers up to 534 hours of recording time in LP quality mode. If you require a higher quality recording, setting the unit to SP mode allows up to 89 hours of recording time; 33 hours in HQ mode and 22 hours in SHQ mode, according to Sony. Most of my interviews have been between 20 and 40 minutes so again, the Sony is more than adequate for my needs.

The final feature I wanted to mention is the fact the PX820 saves audio files as .MP3 by default. You can listen to your recordings on the device or transfer them to your computer for listening and/or storage. Once you plug the recorder to your computer, the computer mounts the recorder as a flash drive, making storage or listening as easy as dragging the recordings from the device to your desktop.

The device comes with PC desktop audio editing software to convert the default MP3 files to other common audio formats — although I personally don’t have the need to convert. There also is a version of the PX820 — at an additional cost — that comes bundled with the highly regarded Dragon Dictate software for voice-to-text transcription.
For its $59.95 retail price, I can’t think of anything bad to say about this little recorder. That alone is a testament to the quality. Perhaps with a little more time, I will find something to complain about. I was able to use this product right out of the box without any problems. Some of the menu settings required me to refer to the manual, so I keep it as a reference when changing recording settings and so forth. But even that will quickly become second nature with some additional use.

Filed under: General technology, Hardware, Review, , ,

3 Responses

  1. […] Read this article: Sony ICD-PX820 Digital Voice Recorder […]

  2. Karen says:

    my recorder say err in formtting how to corrrect this issue.

    • gheymann says:

      You don’t mention what type of recorder you are using. Assuming it is the same as the reviewed Sony ICD-PX820, I would first check to make sure you have ample space to save additional files to the device. If space is not the issue I would try resetting the device to see if it helps. Good Luck!

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