The telephone recording device has been not spared by the computer revolution. Aside from the usual tape-fed recorders, there are many phone recording devices today that use flash-based memory, and some are even fully integrated into PCs. This begs the question: what should you get?
Before proceeding any further, please do not forget to read last weekâ€™s article, â€œIs It Legal? How Phone Recording Device Laws Apply (or Do Not Apply) To Youâ€. Reading it will let you get a fairly good idea of the potential legal implications (if any) of what youâ€™re about to do. Okay, now that weâ€™ve taken care of that particular issue, letâ€™s move on to the real thing.
Question: What type of telephone recording device should I get: cassette, software, or flash-based?
Letâ€™s talk about each of them in greater detail.
This is the class of recorders that most of us are familiar with. Why? Because theyâ€™ve been in existence for a very long time. These devices use magnetic cassette tapes to record conversations, the same stuff used for music albums in the early 1980â€™s.
Unlike its digital peers, cassette-based recorders allow direct compatibility with legacy systems. With it, you can listen to cassette-recorded conversations from ages past without the need to convert them to computer files. This is very important if you happen to have a vast archive of old recordings, where full conversion to digital formats is either too expensive or too tedious to implement.
Good examples are the P5045 Micro Phone Recorder and GT-TR510SC Cassette Phone Recorder.
But then, cassette tape recordings are of lesser quality compared to digital copies. First, you may hear some static, which is virtually absent in flash-based or software-based recordings. Second, many phone lines today send signals digitally (VoIP and/or DSL), which cassette tape phone recorders are unable to read. And third, playback is time-consuming â€“ theyâ€™re cassette tapes, after all.
We all know that computers today can pretty much do anything, and that includes letting it â€œinvadeâ€ your phone line and record conversations. The system works by using a combination of phone recording software and small device thatâ€™s tapped into your phone line. There are even models that contain their own sound processor, which allows you to record conversations without hogging your system resources.
The KONEXX USB Phone to PC Software Series is the perfect example of a software-based recording device.
Software-based devices save sound files into your hard drive, thus making available storage space virtually limitless. The process also becomes simpler because the system is integrated into your own computer, i.e. there are fewer parts to worry about. Lastly, the system offers a wider degree of customization, thanks to its graphical user interface (GUI)-based software bundle. This is perfect for business settings, where computers and telephones are usually located near each other.
On the other hand, using this class of telephone recording device has a couple of drawbacks. First, the computer will have to be constantly on, so that power consumption might be an issue. Second, this device must be connected to a point that very close to the handset itself, making the use of this device for surveillance purposes impractical, as the system is all-too-easy to visually detect.
Flash-based Standalone Digital Phone Recorders
Flash-based standalone recorders can be considered as the best of both worlds â€“ itâ€™s compact, energy-efficient, easy to use, and highly compatible with most digital platforms. Basically, this class of recorders is similar to cassette-type devices, except that it uses removable flash media storage. It also has a number of features similar to software-based recorders, as it is a miniature computer itself.
First, it consumes energy at a drastically lower rate when compared with cassettes, as the former has fewer moving parts. A single set of three AAA batteries is enough to record 15 hours worth of conversations. Second, these devices can function without the aid of a personal computer. This lets you hide it in plain sight, making it ideal for covert surveillance operations. Third, the recordings are automatically saved on a SD or micro-SD as a digital audio file. This lets you easily transfer them to any personal computer. In essence, flash-based recorders can turn anyone into a home-made James Bond.
The flash-based SleuthGear D4100 Phone Recording Device, for example, lives up to its name.
Each type of telephone recording device has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Thus, it is up to you to decide which one best fits your needs.