The Micro-Speak Plus: an accessible voice recorder?

Micro speak digital voice recorder in yellow

Review by Joe Lonergan

Product Description

The Micro-Speak digital recorder is a basic pocket-sized digital recorder that you can carry around with you to record things on the move. It has a rechargeable battery.

It has built-in memory, 8GB providing 96 hours of high-quality recording time. You can plug it into your PC or Mac via USB to add or remove recordings and manage recordings. It has free audio editing software included called Audacity for mixing and cutting your recordings.

The product itself has a voice built-in to announce things like battery level. It announces out loud when it is fully charged. It has a loudspeaker and also has a 3.5m jack to plug in earphones and it has a built-in microphone. It supports WAV and MP3 playback. It has a very small digital display. It claims to have simple and easy-to-use navigation but depending on the user’s style of receiving feedback, I know some users would prefer more voice prompts. There is an onboard MP3 manual.

Unboxing/What are my first impressions of the item?

It came in a small box about 4 inches square in size, When I first took it out of the box it felt very light and plastic, like a product with no batteries in it. But then I found the micro-USB wire for charging it and I plugged it in, and it announced that it had a low battery. It was fully charged in about 30 minutes. I played around with the buttons and soon found 3 tactile buttons above the small LCD screen, I guessed the middle one was play, the left was rewind, and the right button was fast forward.

Below the screen there was another wide tactile button that I found out was record. When you press this after a couple of seconds you hear a beep, this means you can start recording, it is time to speak, when you are finished speaking or recording you press the same button again to stop recording.

To delete messages, you hold down the play button until it pauses and then you’re prompted whether you want to delete the file or not and it’s two beeps for yes and one beep for no. You press the right arrow to move to yes and hit the play button and the recorder says file erased.

Then to playback what you have recorded you press the play button above the screen. The quality of the recording to me was great. There was a volume up and down button on the side to turn up or down the volume during playback and it was fairly loud. You have to wait a couple of seconds before you start speaking otherwise it will miss your first couple of words, this can be annoying as you get faster at using the device.

What did I like?

I liked its ease of use for doing basic recordings, I liked its loudspeaker. It has tactile buttons.

What didn’t I like? 

I didn’t like the feel of the product, it feels cheap and plastic. I would like a better screen reader experience, what is on it can not be called a screen reader. It just gives some announcements about the battery level and lets you know it is ready after you switch it on. On the other hand, there are some beep sounds to prompt you to do certain actions.
As regards low vision there is some contrast on the buttons and they are large and tactile, but the LCD screen is very small, and I imagine most low vision users will not get used to the little screen.

If you have no vision, you will be able to use it with the tactile button after a little practice, but the LCD screen will be no use as there is no working screen reader on the product apart from a couple of battery announcements and sound prompts.

Is there much of a learning curve?

For basic recording, there is very little learning curve,
When you plug it into your PC or Mac you will see your raw files appear in File Explorer and you can cut copy or share them from there. But if you want to do any advanced mixing or editing it is suggested that you will need to learn how to use Audacity software.

I would recommend this product to people who would like a very basic digital recorder for recording high-quality quick memos. If you already have a smartphone I would recommend an alternative option is to use the voice memos feature on your phone instead through a voice command or a screen reader.

This review was written from the point of view of a blind user unboxing the product without any sighted help.

It is priced around the €55 mark.