ESI Rekord-M, Zoom H1: the summer of cheap handy recorders

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UPDATE: read our Zoom H1 review.

If you can spend something more (well, let’s say at least two-three times more) I’d still recommend checking products like the Zoom H4n or the Sony ones, but if you’re looking for an affordable new handy recorder to bring with you on holiday, or simply to start experimenting with field recordings, well the time is right.

So, what’s a Zoom H1? A few weeks ago we heard about the upcoming, the newest entry in the Zoom Handy recorder family. Still not in the stores, but should be a matter of days. Very nice design, interesting features (X/Y mic pattern, 2GB microSD card expandable to MicroSDHC 32GB, 24/96khz, support for video cameras and external tripods). Looking at the specs, the only thing that really puts me down is the normal alkaline battery.
It would have been much better to have a USB rechargeable battery, and a bigger default memory (I guess most users will have to buy a new card soon). It’s not clear whether the recording level is automatic or also manual on the H1 (no manual yet).
More info on the Zoom H1 here.

But it’s good to have options. So please welcome the ESI Rekord-M.
It’s already available, at least in Europe (you should find it at 99 pounds/119 euro, so I guess the US price will be less than 150$).
Very light, just 38 grams! No SD card here, but an internal 4gb memory (which means more than 6 hours of uncompressed audio, and days and days of mp3 audio, it should be enough for most needs).
Cardioid directional microphones, no 24bit recording (could be good to have it as an option, but it’s a compromise that can be accepted, given the price of the unit).
The recording level is automatic (unless using external microphones, in that case you can choose between automatic and manual settings).
The ESI Rekord-M gets charged via the integrated battery directly from your computer, exactly like your iPod does. Definitely something to consider when comparing prices.

There’s a pdf manual here.
More info on the ESI Rekord-M here.

Both units have an input for external microphones, and are compatible with OS X and Windows OS computers.
That said, the specs cannot say much about the most important thing: the sound. We hope to test them in the next weeks. Stay tuned…

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