Part of the reason the iPod has been so successful is that compatible content is so simple to acquire--and there's plenty of it. Now, the iRecord, a simple one-touch personal media recorder, makes content even easier to get. And the beauty of it is that it's not only for the iPod, you can also record directly to the PSP and any UMS-mounting flash device. At $199, the iRecord isn't cheap, but it'll save you time and money in the long run.
The white, plastic iRecord box isn't something design heads will be scrambling to get. It's plain, if not a little ugly--silver or black would look nicer with most setups--but it gets the job done. At 3.75x4.25x1 inches, it's noticeably larger than the iPod but smaller than any other part of a home theater system. Only two buttons grace the top of the device: power and record. The backside houses the necessary inputs--RCA A/V, S-Video, and power--and the left edge contains the standard USB port. The final physical characteristics of note are the two LED indicators on the front of the unit. The one for power glows red when iRecord is turned on; the other is a record light, which glows or flashes different status colors. Steady green means it's ready for recording, and flashing shows it's detecting the USB device; orange blinks for busy and glows for audio-only recording; and red turns on for a firmware upgrade and flashes during video recording.
As for features, the prior LED status lights pretty much cover them. The iRecord can record video (MPEG-4 or H.264, depending on the device) or audio only (MP3), and it's firmware upgradable, which will allow the unit to expand its device compatibility in the future. The company is currently working to support Creative Zen devices and Sony MP3 players, and Motorola phone support was just added. Unfortunately, the iRecord doesn't let you schedule recordings via a built-in timer. Although this feature would probably take away from some of the simplicity of the unit, it would still be a welcome addition. You can, however, adjust the automatic record shut-off to suit your needs (the default is three hours). On the plus side--and this is a big plus--the iRecord can record from protected DVDs.
We're pleased to report that the iRecord is as user-friendly as advertised. All of the necessary cables (RCA A/V, S-Video, and power) are included with the unit, so all you need to do is hook it up, turn it on, and press Record. The unit automatically detects your device and determines the correct recording format, and it uses the cable connections to determine whether to do video or just audio recording. No software or computer is required. Video quality is also impressive--clear with no pixelation or audio delays. It's as good as anything purchased in iTunes, and the TV out looks good as well. All in all, the iRecord is a good investment for anyone who wants to easily record content for a portable device.