XtremeMac MicroMemo review: XtremeMac MicroMemo

3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The MicroMemo is easy to use, features an adjustable mic, and allows you to switch between mic and line-in recording.

The Bad The MicroMemo doesn't allow you to charge the iPod while you're using it, yet it draws off the player's battery. It only works with fifth-gen and newer iPods and second-gen Nanos, and you'll need your own stereo mic unless you want to record in mono only.

The Bottom Line The MicroMemo by XtremeMac adds recording capability to newer iPods and Nanos but a gangly microphone may offset the benefit of the included external speaker.

6.5 Overall

The iPod is a successful music- and video-playing device, but some users have complained about the player's lack of extra features, such as an FM radio and a voice recorder. If you fall into the latter camp, XtremeMac has one possible solution for you: the MicroMemo ($60). Unfortunately, you'll need a fifth-gen or newer iPod or a second-gen Nano to use it, but those who do will be rewarded with an easy-to-use device that gets the job done.

Similar to other microphones built to use with the iPod, MicroMemo snaps into the dock on the bottom of the player. Aside from the removable external mic, which looks rather like a razor-sculpted tail of a show-quality poodle, the device is low profile, measuring just 2.4x1.2x0.4 inches. But about that mic: it's an acquired taste. Some CNETers found the four-inch appendage to be pleasantly old-school, while others thought it inelegant. In any case, it's superflexible and can be easily adjusted for optimal recording.

The front of the MicroMemo features a built-in speaker, which we find extremely useful for checking to see if a recording actually worked, to hear a snippet of a song, or to share a scene from a TV show with a couple of colleagues. This feature is conspicuously absent from the Griffin iTalkPro. In the center of the speaker is a square silver button, which just serves to "wake up" the iPod or to enter the "voice memo" mode. Recordings are controlled via the iPod's center button and are simple enough to make based on the selections that pop up on the iPod's screen (record, pause, and so on).

In our tests, we found the recording quality to be OK, but not quite as good as the Griffin iTalkPro. One reason for the difference in quality could be that the microphone included with the MicroMemo allows for recording only in mono, while the iTalkPro grabs sound in stereo. The MicroMemo can record in stereo if the user unplugs the included mic and inserts a stereo mic into the 3.5mm minijack. If you want to record from a stereo or other music souce, a switch on the side of the unit allows you to toggle between mic and line-in recording.

The MicroMemo, like the iTalkPro, draws off the iPod's battery, and the player cannot be charged while recording because the MicroMemo monopolizes the dock connector and does not have a pass-through. This could be an issue for long recording sessions or when your iPod is not fully charged--especially since our cursory tests seemed to show a noticeable drain on battery while recording.

So, it really comes down to whether you value the slightly better recording of the iTalkPro and its more sleek design or the external speaker and mono-recording ability of the Micro Memo. If forced to choose, we'd go with the iTalkPro for the sleeker, more compact design.

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