The Washington Post

April 1995


THE FLASHBACK SOLID STATE DIGITAL VOICE RECORDER, shown actual size. Now a high-tech curiosity for lawyers and reporters, it may be a crude precursor to next wave home audio equipment.

Cost:  $250 for the hardware; $70 for a 30-minute sound clip.

How It Works: It uses a digital chip instead of a disc or tape to store and access sounds. It has no moving parts.

Pros:  It's durable, slips easily into a pocket and weighs only a few ounces. It is simple to operate--press a button, a red light goes on, record your message. To play it back, press a pause button, then a play button. You can jump from one message to the next with no "rewinding." You can edit recordings  by inserting words at any point without wiping out existing material. A chip can be erased in seconds.

Cons:  Poor fidelity. The hardware and software are expensive, given the Flashback's poor sound quality. There's no visual display for recording information. The record function often stars when the button is accidentally bumped. Norris says a 1995 update will add many fixes, features and enhancements, including one that transfers data to a PC.

Current Availability:  Several catalogues and at Sharper Image stores; this month it ships to some computer superstores.

Best For: Techno-fetishists and others who do a lot of dictating and oral note-taking--reporters, lawyers, etc.


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