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Mon Sep 25, 2006 - 1:59 PM EDT - By Xious Sonenberg

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Product Info
> Name mVoice
> Company MotionApps
> Tested with Sprint Treo 700p and 650
> Fact Sheet & User Opinions
> Available
> $24.95

mVoice Your Opinions

If you are anything like me, I'm sure you've had one of those phone conversations with some pal or business associate where the words "I never said that!" enter the conversation. Positive that you have indeed heard those words, you do your best to assure the other guy that they came from his mouth and end up in an hour-long debate that could make a US Senator weary.

While there are a lot of things you can do to attempt to save phone calls from your Treo, I'm afraid duct-taping a microphone to your earpiece or wiring a cassette recorder in-line with your headset is neither fun nor practical. The ultimate solution is to use a piece of software to record the call and save it on an SD card to archive for later use: for when you need to play it back to your Doubting Thomas friend.

Enter mVoice: The Digital Phone Bug

Now, with mVoice, a small and easy to use program from MotionApps, the same guys who make mOcean and a host of other Treo-friendly utilities, you can save those irritating conversations to your SD card and play them back whenever you need to. Extremely useful when discussing your next corporate merger, or when placing a bet on your favorite college football team with your friendly (but hard-of-hearing!) Vegas bookie.

Installing mVoice is as simple as hopping over to the TreoCentral Software Store or visiting MotionApps website, and downloading the small [186k] installer app to your SD card. Then, just pop your card into your favorite flavor of Treo and run the installer.
For those who like choices, mVoice is available for the 650, and 700p, plus both the 700w and 700wx, though with the latter you have to jump through some hoops to get it to record both ends of a conversation.

Tap the installer and mVoice then expands into your Treo's internal memory weighing in at 277k, which isn't too shabby for all this baby does.

To start a recording, just tap its icon and mVoice brings up a traditional VCR-style dialog that is easy to use, though the buttons are a bit on the small side. Seems they went for a fancy-schmancy look and feel rather than aiming of ease of use. It would be more useful to have huge buttons like the Treo's Phone Dialer than look pretty, and I have discussed this with the developers. You use these controls to record voice memos during meetings, or during that moment of inspiration in your local tavern, or entire phone calls (even conference calls!!).

Running With It

Recording a phone call is as easy as bringing up the controls screen while talking, and tapping the record button, which works perfectly whether you are using your Treo's built in speaker or the headset of your choice. You can configure mVoice to bring up this screen whenever you tap the side button on your Treo, which simplifies starting the recording process.

My favorite headset by far is the UmeVoice theBoom "O", I made a few test calls while recording them with mVoice and found the usability to be quite acceptable at 8kHz. If you are going to use a Bluetooth headset with mVoice, make sure it works properly first as the developer warns that not all BT headsets are equally crafted, so some will work just dandy while others will record only half the conversation.

MotionApps gives you fifteen days to test out their wares before you buy them, so use this time to make sure everything is in the proper order.

To record a call, press-and-hold the side button on your Treo. This makes an audible 'beep' and brings you to the mVoice recording controls. You can also switch to mVoice manually, and tap the record button, but why go through all that hassle. The side button instantly starts recording, so you can capture what's going on in a conversation at any point you want or need. However, pressing the side button again does not stop the recording, which you must do manually by tapping the 'stop' button in recorder view.

While recording, mVoice displays the maximum amount of recording time free on your card at its current audio quality settings, and a battery gauge showing the exact percentage of battery life left (though not the remaining battery time), and a volume slider at the bottom of the screen. Adjust this slider to set the volume of your recording. Start out at 50% and fine-tune as needed to avoid distortion or fade.

The recorder quality settings can be tweaked using the pull down 'Settings' menu and you'll find four options between 8kHz and 22kHz to choose from, giving you direct control of how rich the audio stream is that you save to your SD media, each of which may be either IMA ADPCM compressed WAV files, or PCM uncompressed WAV files. Recording even when in the background, mVoice saves calls as digital WAV files, which you can play in almost any audio or video player, including iTunes, VLC and WinAmp, or in mVoice itself.

The file size per minute of recording varies between 512k and 5MB depending on the sampling rate and compression settings. Here's a full list of how much space a single minute of recording will take up for each quality setting.
  • 8kHz Compressed/Min: 512KB
  • 11kHz Compressed/Min: 688KB
  • 16kHz Compressed/Min: 1008KB
  • 22kHz Compressed/Min: 1.4MB
  • 8kHz Uncompressed/Min: 1.8MB
  • 11kHz Uncompressed/Min: 2.5MB
  • 16kHz Uncompressed/Min: 3.6MB
  • 22kHz Uncompressed/Min: 5MB
Phew! As you can see, if you want to store a lot of calls on one SD card, you're going to need a big one. If you're still toying around with a 512MB (or smaller) card, you may want to take this opportunity to upgrade to a Dane 2GB card which is a steal at $49.95, down from almost $200 a year ago.

Also in this panel is a check box for the usage of compression, which I just leave on, and an option to record both sides of the conversation. Turning this off just records your voice, leaving the other end (mostly) silent. Some sound may still leak through if you are using your Treo in speakerphone mode, so if you want to only record one end of your call, keep it to phone mode or use a headset.

You can set mVoice to beep when the recording begins and choose to turn on recording when you press the side button. You will also see the 'Alarms' button, which you tap to select one of your recorded sounds as a system alarm, or wake-up sound. Try recording a baby screaming and see if that doesn't jolt you out of bed faster then your trusty wind-up Big Ben.

Archiving Your Calls >>

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