Pros Very easy to use; small; light; built-in speaker; good sensitivity and clarity; USB connection; voice actuation; long recording time
Cons Very weak, inflexible software and driver; only 100 files per folder, max 4 folders.
Summary The Olympus VN-4100PC is avery useful, handy device, good value for the price I paid ($40). I like the speaker for ease of use. Voice recordings are crisp and clear although not completely natural or high fidelity. Uses two AAA batteries, small, slim, light, perfect for shirt pocket. Controls are very convenient.
The software for transferring files to and from your computer is miserable. It does not emulate a "flash drive" like so many MP3 players do, as far as I can tell. So you CANNOT use Windows Explorer to play, preview, move, delete, etc. the audio files.
Instead, you must install and use the pathetic "Wave Digital Player" software (in my experience). As far as I can tell, it only lets you see and transfer entire folders from the recorder (perhaps I can't find the trick to get visibility to actual audio files on the recorder. However, in the Olympus software the individual files are visible in the "mirror" folders on your hard drive after you transfer the folder.)
Trying to find the transferred files on your hard drive is another challenge. The software does not seem to let you choose where to put them or even reveal where it is putting them. It seems to want you to always start the program whenever you manage your files. But you are probably going to want to use Windows Explorer to move and rename selected audio files, so you'll want to locate them eventually. I found them under <your login name>'s Documents | Digital Wave Player | Message | FolderA, etc.
It is a major flaw, mistake, and weakness that Olympus did not choose to emulate a Flash Memory device that uses the standard Windows driver when you plug the recorder into the USB port using the supplied cable.
By comparison, my little Chinese made MP3 player with voice recording ability and built-in USB plug is far more convenient from a software standpoint. No cable or special software needed, just plug into any computer and there are your audio files. Olympus, get with it! If my MP3 player had a readable display, built-in speaker, and easy buttons for recording, it would be a better recorder. However, it may be true that the Olympus Recorder has a more aggressive compression and can make smaller WAV files than my MP3 player; that remains to be tested.
Another weakness of the Olympus Digital Wave Player software is that it appears to transfer files very slowly compared with my MP3 player that emulates a Flash Drive.
If I am mistaken about some of the limitations of the software, then I blame the software for being very unintuitive and hard to use.
In conclusion, I think you will be very happy with the Olympus VN-4100 voice recorder as a device (so long as the 100 files per folder limit is OK with you), but the PC connectivity and clumsy software may drive you mad.Updated
Please note: The VN-4100 does not have PC connectivity. Rather, my review is for the VN-4100PC model. However, my comments for the hardware should be relevant.
Pros Easy to use
Cons Harsh sound quality; no download feature
Summary This unit is a great replacement for cassette recorders of the past. However, because of its low bit resolution sound quality is harsh on all settings. Get the VN-4100PC model so you can download the files to your computer. It comes with software that makes the process automatic.