The Sony ICD-SX800 is a high-end digital notetaker suitable for musicians, journalists and other media professionals.

It combines an ultra-portable design with advanced audio features, including three integrated microphones and a Noise Cut function to reduce ambient noise. The Sony ICD-SX800 comes bundled with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10, a transcription application that converts speech into text. With 2GB of built-in flash memory, it also saves you the trouble of mucking around with memory cards or digital tapes.

However, with an RRP of more than £150 the Sony ICD-SX800 represents a pretty serious investment. Consequently, only the most dedicated and hard-working of journalists need apply. [Now that's what I call a ‘niche audience' - Ed.]

Back when journalists used to wear funny hats and say things like "whata scoop!" the ability to write in shorthand was an essential tool of the trade. If your penmanship wasn't up to snuff, then by-golly you were in the wrong profession. Nowadays, the ability to scribble down quotes in record time isn't nearly as important as it once was. Instead, we have hackneyed press releases to do 99 percent of the work for us. Er, and digital notetakers like the Sony ICD-SX800.

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Without question, the Sony ICD-SX800 is the most advanced and feature-packed voice recorder we've ever tested. Some of the highlights include uncompressed PCM recordings for CD-quality sound, automatic voice-activated recording, external microphone and headphone jacks, digital pitch control for added preview convenience and MP3 music playback.

Despite these high-end trappings, the Sony ICD-SX800 is quite simple to use, with most functions easily accessed via a menu on the LCD screen. We were able to select our preferred settings and get up and running without consulting the manual once.

In addition to the afore-mentioned Linear PCM, the Sony ICD-SX800 also records in the MP3 and LPEC formats. In addition, it supports WMA and WAV playback, which means you can transport files directly from Windows Media Player and the like.

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The Sony ICD-SX800 can record up to 750 hours of audio in Long Play mode, or 35 hours at the highest possible quality setting. (We've been to media events that feel twice as long as this, but rest assured, you'll be able to fit everything into one recording.)

Unfortunately, no external storage options are offered, which means you're stuck with a maximum of 2GB. This is a shame, as the inclusion of a Micro Memory Stick slot would have greatly boosted the Sony ICD-SX800's MP3 player credentials. Then again, this probably would have added to the size and cost of the device.

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