So I had purchased the first TicWatch and appreciated what Mobvoi was attempting to do - disrupt the space by providing competitive products that were good, not great, but a fraction of the cost compared to the rest of the...
So I had purchased the first TicWatch and appreciated what Mobvoi was attempting to do - disrupt the space by providing competitive products that were good, not great, but a fraction of the cost compared to the rest of the industry.
I have seen this across several iterations of their TicWatches, but figured I would pick up the recorder to try it out and see if it follows their usual "safe" formula.
So let''s go down the list of what I do and do not like!
What I like:
- The form factor. Sacrificing things like a screen and playback functionality means that Mobvoi were able to create a device that is very small. I have small hands and it still feels very small. There are two buttons and that''s it - you''ve got your power/bluetooth/wifi button and your record button, that''s it.
- The clip. The clip is useful such that you can attach it to your collar or to a metal surface, so in that aspect it''s convenient.
- Simplicity. It was very easy to take it out of the box, charge it, record, and upload files. I didn''t have to worry about weird formats or a complicated file manager to just pull the content from the device using the included cable.
- Price. This is a bit subjective. For example, I also have a Zoom H4N Pro (not THE best recorder in the world, but it''s a very, very solid product) which costs about 2.5x more than this. That has two really good mics and have a host of features such as multi-channel recording, different recording modes, and support external XLR mics, and much more. But it''s $250. On the other hand, this is $99.
You could compare this against something like the "Sony ICD-UX570 Digital Voice Recorder, ICDUX570BLK" (available on Amazon - though I personally have never tested this product) which comes in about $30 less than this. You have to then evaluate what''s important to you - sound quality, convenience, or features.
What I don''t like:
- The app. Doesn''t work. I tried connecting the device to the app and I can''t. I would like to add "mobile connectivity" to the "What I like" section, but I simply cannot because it doesn''t work currently. I tried troubleshooting various methods and nothing worked.
- Sound quality. The sound quality is good, but not great. It''s hard to tell if it''s 2.5x less the sound of the Zoom H4N Pro. That has extremely crisp and clear audio that gives most condenser mics a run for their money. For $99, I expect just a little bit better. I turned it off for the recording I attached, but when my AC was on, I could hear it pretty prominently in the recording, so I would have liked better noise isolation via the software to make up for the hardware.
- Audio transcription. I can only speculate as I wasn''t able to test this, but I''m a bit bummed that there isn''t some degree of free transcription on a monthly basis after the first year. I would like to see even a minimum number of credits for transcription so that users can continue to use that functionality, and power users that use the recorder all day, everyday are expected to pay for that service respectively.
This recorder overall offers some modern conveniences like streaming over WiFi/Bluetooth to connect to your mobile device, foregoing the "need" of onboard playback features, but it also lacks a lot of the creature comforts you generally find in a recording device as well. I have a hard time determining whether or not this device is useful or suitable for any serious vlogging or an accompaniment to any video production against a wireless lavalier mic. I could see someone maybe using this in an indoor setting for vlogging, but I don''t think it''s realistic to expect the device to not capture anomalies and white noise which could detract from the overall quality of the final product (without additional editing).
And while I find the clip to be convenient, I feel it''s also a hindrance as well, such that when I did attach it to my shirt''s collar, the noise became muffled. I didn''t attach it to my collar in the video I attached, but even when the recorder is below your chin, it has a more muffled sound than when it''s located elsewhere - maybe because of my facial hair, but does it affect it that much? I think it''s more about its proximity to clothing. So with that in mind, you have to possibly trade convenience for quality and have to weigh that against the $99 price tag.
If Mobvoi can address the connectivity issues (that''s a MAJOR issue in my eyes, since that''s the USP to this device), then I would consider upgrading this to 4 stars, and even then I think my recommendation to others would be to keep an eye on this, but don''t pay full retail for it - wait for it to go on sale and buy it then. For this to get to 5 stars, I think there needs to be upgrades to the overall quality of the mics, but also a hard look at the software to enhance the onboard audio recording capabilities. I use Krisp on my desktop and it does an amazing job at removing noise from the environment, which really elevates my otherwise overly sensitive HyperX Quadcast or Yeti.