Digital voice recorders can be an essential tool for busy people, but in today's economic climate it's also important to find the best value dictaphones on the market. 

Of course there are recording apps on many modern mobile phones which may suffice for certain tasks. These apps have the advantage of coming as part of a multifunctional device, but the sound quality provided by the iPhone, for example, can't compare to digital dictaphones specifically designed for voice recording. Digital voice recorders also boast a much longer battery life and a far superior audio storage capacity.

They provide a great low-cost way for normal people to monitor their to-do list, record ideas or take down dictation, for business people to record notes from presentations or meetings, and for students to keep track of seminars and lectures. Some of the more advanced models even have features and functionality for musicians to capture high fidelity recordings of gigs.

Here, I'll take you through the best value dictaphones available today; Olympus and Sony feature heavily. Some of these models come with incredible advanced features such as voice activation, software allowing you to automatically convert speech to text, sound editing capabilities and, because they are digital, transferring files to a PC or Mac is quick and convenient. They're all top rated Amazon best sellers with hundreds of 5 star reviews on the site. 

Olympus VN-702PC Voice Recorder

Olympus VN-702PC Voice Recorder
Amazon Price: $84.99 Buy Now
(price as of May 11, 2015)

This is my choice for a budget dictaphone for easy note-taking, and recording ideas and meetings. The Olympus-702PC is the latest model in the series and offers extremely high-quality recording capabilities, is very simple to use and comes with some great features that you don't expect to find in a voice recorder in this price range; a calendar search function makes it easy to locate files by date, voice activation allows you to start and stop recording handsfree, and the scene select feature means the audio-capturing automatically adjusts to the acoustics of the space you're in for optimum sound quality.

2 GB of internal memory (and the potential to hold 32 GB of additional memory via the microSD slot) and 823 hours of inbuilt recording time means you'll never run out of space, the USB connecitivity makes transferring files to your PC simple and you can record and play-back voice recordings in both MP3 and WMA formats.

Sony Digital Flash Voice Recorder

Sony Digital Flash Voice Recorder (ICD-PX312)
Amazon Price: $150.00 Buy Now
(price as of May 11, 2015)

Sony's standard Digital Flash Voice Recorder isn't a glamorous model but it has all the basic functions you'll need for capturing good quality voice recordings; simple familiar controls (Record, Stop, Pause) which are easy to use even for the technically challenged, a built-in 2GB flash memory,  memory card slot and a clear display. Providing up to 530 hours of recording time (with the ability to add more via a microSD memory card slot), advanced built-in technology means that this dictaphone intuitively reduces background noise so that your sound files are clear and crisp. 

Voice activation means that you can work handsfree and the design is light and portable, making it easy to carry around and take into meetings or classes. It is also compatible with Dragon Naturally Speaking software which means you can automatically convert speech into text; a great way of easily creating transcripts of presentations, lectures or meetings.

Olympus WS-801 Voice Recorder

Olympus WS-801 Voice Recorder
Amazon Price: $114.00 Buy Now
(price as of May 11, 2015)

The great thing about the Olympus WS-801 is that the two internal directional condenser microphones allow for sound recording at virtually any decibel level. Like most of the lower priced Olympus voice recorders there is fantastic value for money because of the exceptional features offered; easy connection to a USB port on a PC or Mac for digital transfer of MP3 or WMAfiles with no need for additional cables, 514 hours of recording time and 2GB of inbuilt memory, calendar search functions and voice activation make this the perfect choice for students or professionals looking for all the high-quality basics in an affordable dictaphone.

Sony ICD-UX512 Digital Flash Voice Recorder

Sony ICD-UX512RED Digital Flash Voice Recorder
Amazon Price: $389.95 Buy Now
(price as of May 11, 2015)
If you're looking for style and portability this may well be the recorder for you. But it doesn't just look good, it's highly sensitive and picks up even the quietest of voices with clarity. All the basics you need for high-quality digital voice recording are included; internal 2 GB of flash memory, easy file transfer, playback on the device or a computer at the touch of a button, records in LPCM and MP3 and it has around 30 hours of active battery life, meaning that if you want to record straight for 30 hours this model will do it!

The Sony ICD-UX512 also comes with a few extras; Sony headphones, batteries, USB cable and battery case, all of which makes it one of the best value dictaphones available.

Olympus 142665 DM-620 SLV Voice Recorder

Olympus 142665 DM-620 SLV Voice Recorder
Amazon Price: $199.99 $118.20 Buy Now
(price as of May 11, 2015)
This is the cream of the crop if you're looking for something that has lots of storage. I'd go so far as to say it's the best value non-professional grade dictaphone on the market if you like lots of cool features and need more memory than the ultra-budget devices offer.

The Olympus 142665 DM-620 is the upgraded version of the Olympus DM-420 digital voice recorder. It has all the same features; brilliant sound quality, unbeatable battery life, multiple recording formats and voice activation. What it offers above and beyond the DM-420 is 4GB of in-built memory, automatic podcast downloading and it comes with Mac and PC compatible Sonority editing software.

Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder

Zoom H4N Handy Portable Digital Recorder
Amazon Price: $337.49 $189.00 Buy Now
(price as of May 11, 2015)

You may wonder why I've chosen to feature such a pricey item in an article about best value dictaphones. Well, the truth is, value is about more than price. Granted, the Zoom H4n Handy Portable is not a cheap digital recorder, but if you're looking for a machine capable of achieving crystal clear quality and you need more than straightforward voice capturing facilities, this model may be worth consideration. CNET voted this the number one choice for people looking for a professional grade digital voice recorder, saying that it provided "outstanding value for musicians and podcasters who demand professional-sounding results".

With the ability to hook up to professional microphones because of XLR balanced inputs with +48V phantom power and record 4 channels at the same time, the Zoom H4n offers more bang for your buck than you might think. A multi-functional device offering advanced features such as 24bit/96kHz Linear PCM recording for pristine recording, variable speed playback, auto-record and pre-record. One for the gadget lovers out there who need professional voice capturing capabilities.

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