Review: Griffin iTalk
Last fall, when the iTunes Music Store’s Windows version was announced, some other things were shown off, too. Apple showed a voice recorder made by Belkin, which allowed users to record things directly on their iPods. A small speaker allowed playback of messages and songs. Unfortunately, the microphone was somewhat weak, and there was no way to record things from an external source. A few months later, Griffin Technology introduced the iTalk, which was due to ship in April. Intrigued by its features, I preordered mine in March.
With a price of $10 less than the original Belkin model, and more features, the iTalk looks like a far superior product. Needless to say, it is. Having a headphone jack that doubles as an external microphone/audio in jack, the iTalk is more versatile. With a just slightly bigger size, the iTalk looks much like Griffin’s iTrip.
iTalk + iPod
The iTalk works with all iPods sporting a separate remote port next to the headphone jack, except the iPod Mini (this includes the newest iPods and the models they replaced). By simply plugging in the iTalk, the Voice Memo item is opened and ready to record. A red LED blinks when the iPod recognizes the iTalk. Pressing the select button or play/pause button starts recording, and pressing these again pauses the recording. When done, use the scroll wheel to select “Stop and Save”. The recording will be saved and stamped with the date and time of recording. It is listed with any other recordings, ready to be played back later. The option to delete recordings on the iPod is also available.
To play back recordings, the Voice Memo function must be accessed through the Extras section. Playing recordings is as simple as selecting them and pressing play.
When the iPod syncs with iTunes, recordings are transferred to a playlist called “Voice Memos” and cleared from the iPod’s Voice Memo function. They are then placed back on the iPod in the “Voice Memo” playlist and are manipulated just like regular iTunes songs.
The iTalk’s recordings are adequate for picking up voices , but you wouldn’t want to record a concert with it. Since the iPod’s recording capabilities are what limit the iTalk (8kHz, 16-bit mono WAV files), it does the best it can (and still sounds better than other products). If the built in microphone does not work for your needs, connect an external microphone to pick up things from farther away. The microphone jack doubles as a headphone jack during playback, so you can use your iPod normally without having to remove the iTalk.
The iTalk also features a small speaker, for listening to recordings, and anything else you can output through your iPod’s headphones. Although not spectacular quality, the speaker still is not bad to listen to. This speaker can also allow the use of your music as an alarm clock instead of the standard beep. Using this feature, and the iPod’s sleep function, you can fall asleep with your iPod and wake up to it, replacing many clock radios.
I think the iTalk is an excellent addition to anyone’s iPod who needs to do casual recordings, or wants to use it for lecture notes. With a price tag less than other products, it provides more features, making it a steal.
The One-Sentence Verdict™
The iTalk mixes a multitude of useful features, flexibility, a small size, and a reasonable price.
Pros: Works well with the iPod and has some useful features
Cons: Other than the iPod’s own recording limitations, none significant