For those who want to turn their iPods into digital audio recorders, Griffin offers the iTalkPro ($50), a much-needed update to the iTalk. The iTalkPro is simple to use and does an adequate job of recording a person talking, but it only works with fifth-gen iPods and second-gen Nanos. Other users are out of luck.
The iTalkPro is a sleek and compact (2.4x0.8x0.4 inches) device designed to blend in with the iPod's simplicity. There's just one large, clickable button on the front of the unit, with a ring around it that lights up red so you can easily confirm that it's recording. Getting up and running is as simple as removing it from the package and snapping it onto the bottom of the iPod. The iPod screen automatically displays the voice memo feature, and you're ready to start recording with a push of the aforementioned button. Unless you opt to record in low quality mono, all recordings are in 16-bit stereo at 44.1 kHz (considered CD quality). The iTalkPro also includes an auxiliary line input, so you can attach an external mic if you want, or you can use a 1/8-to-1/8 inch cable to record directly from a stereo, CD player, or other music source.
For our test, we used a 5G iPod to record an interview with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer while he talked with CNET about the Zune music player (savor the irony). The iTalkPro was able to clearly pick up Ballmer's voice and the pounding of his hand on the table's surface from across the table at a distance of about 7 feet. Background noise seemed minimal, and there wasn't a distracting background hiss or interference in the final recording. Unfortunately, unlike its predecessor, the iTalkPro does not do double duty as a recorder and an external speaker. That means that to review a recording you'll need to have some headphones nearby, which could be a nuisance. And in what could be a deal killer for anyone expecting to do extensive recordings, the iTalkPro does not allow for charging while it's connected--it occupies the port on the bottom of the player and doesn't have a pass-through.
Once you've finished your recording, uploading the final file is a straightforward process. Just connect the iPod to your PC and click "yes" when prompted to sync your voice memos. To free up space on the iPod, the recordings are transferred to the computer, not copied.
For those who do not anticipate exhausting the iPod's battery during very long recording, the $50 price tag might make the iTalkPro an attractive and necessary accessory. If an external speaker is important, check out the MicroMemo instead.