I said at the time that this little gadget was great, just what I needed. Unfortunately, the reality turned out quite different.
I have no complaints with the AudioDream from a recording quality point of view - it is terrific. But what a performance to actually make a recording! It really is very small and very light, and I kept dropping it. Mainly, though, setting it up to do a recording was just a major pain. Plugging in the microphone, cables everywhere, tiny buttons on the gadget... it just wasn't worth the headaches.
So last week on a trip to London, I bought an iRiver IFP-790 in the duty-free shop at Schiphol airport. On half price offer so how could I resist ;) Main reason, though, was that this was the brand I wanted to get in the first place but could not find an iRiver anywhere at the time.
Now this is the gadget for easy mobile voice recording, without question. While this particular iRiver model doesn't have the flash memory storage capacity of the Packard Bell - 256Mb versus 1Gb - it's ample for what I need. It doesn't have a rechargable li-ion battery like the AudioDream - it takes a single AA battery which seems to last forever.
Using it is simplicity itself - you just turn it on and start speaking, that's it. It's built-in microphone is amazing for the quality of recording you can do. You can also connect an external microphone if you wish. I'm especially impressed with the options you can choose for setting up your MP3 recording - selecting bit rate, sample rate, automatic gain control, etc (see the full specifications). And unlike the AudioDream, the iRiver records directly in real-time MP3 format which is what you want for podcasts. It can also record in OGG Vorbis and WMA.
It has other superb features, too, like a built-in FM radio. I'm just using it for voice recording at the moment. One other thing - it supports ID3 tags, crucial for podcasts. It comes with software for Windows that makes it so easy to transfer recordings to your PC. And its firmware is upgradeable.
Now I can fully understand why nearly every other podcaster I know has an iRiver.