Product Review – RCA VR5220-A Digital Voice Recorder

Posted on May 26, 2009 by Yuri Orlov.
Categories: Uncategorized.

Presenting the RCA VR5220-A Digital Voice Recorder.

vr5220_300x300
  • Up to 200 hours recording time
  • Built-in USB for direct PC connection
  • Dual voice compression format
  • Multi-task LCD display
  • Automatic voice activated record
  • Playback editing function
  • Built-in speaker and microphone
  • Date and time stamped recordings
  • Selectable recording mode for conference and dictation
  • 3 recording modes–LP, SP and HQ
  • Headphone and external microphone jacks
  • Key lock function

I’ve only had it for a few days, but I have some observations already.

Cost:

$39 + tax (Wal-mart)

Pros:

It seems to work very well indeed. Like I said, I’ve only had it for a short time, but I have few complaints.

Cons:

First, it doesn’t appear to work in Linux. I know most of the world is Windows and Mac, but come on. It mounts as an USB mass storage device in Windows XP (should also in Vista and OSX too) so why can’t it do so in Linux?

Also, the built in USB port is nice, and it slides out fairly easily, but you have to push on the end of the port to slide it back in. Sometimes the door which covers the port gets discombobulated and has to be straightened back up manually. In addition, the buttons down both sides make sliding out and retracting the USB port difficult as the buttons operate functions on the device in random ways unless you’re really careful not to hit them in the process.

Another thing is, if your USB ports are recessed at all, it makes it almost impossible to plug it in without an USB extension cord.

Oh, and would it be so difficult to include a normal printed manual instead of a GIANT sheet of paper covering all the functions?

Rating:

3 out of 5 stars.

UPDATE: (3/11/2010) As of today I noticed this recorder is showing up on my Ubuntu linux 9.10 desktop. If it doesn’t show up, it’s in the /media folder called “RCA_DVR”. Inside you will find (at least I did) four folders labelled A,B,C and D. Your recordings will be in these folders, labelled with an obscure file name such as “A0000015.VOC”. These are NOT standard .VOC files and cannot be read by anything on your system. However, a man named Dave Coffin has created a small C program called “devoc.c” to convert them. it requires compiling, but it’s painless. Also, there is a web based conversion program here.

I found instructions for using this program here. I’ve reproduced them below for your convenience.

I just got one of these, and I figured out the voodoo to make it work under Ubuntu!

When you plug this thing it, it looks like a usb thumb drive. Go find the .VOC files on it after you plug it in, and copy them off somewhere (they have names like A0000001.VOC)

Download the file devoc.c (hopefully the url will post right):
http://www.cybercom.net/~dcoffin/rca/

(if the URL above gets munged just look for “devoc.c decode VOC” on google and check out the cybercom.net link)

apt-get install sox libsox-fmt-all

gcc devoc.c -o devoc
(and put the binary file in your path somewhere)

devoc -c A0000001.VOC > output.raw

play -t raw -s -2 -r 8000 output.raw

or, to convert it to a useful format (wav/ogg/etc):

sox -t raw -s -2 -r 8000 output.raw out.wav

I moved the compiled program “devoc” to my “/usr/bin” folder and ran it from a terminal window like it says to above. It’s a bit of a pain to do it this way, but only because the files are non-standard to begin with.

I hope this helps someone.

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