Looking rather like a mobile phone, the Pocketrak 2G is a recorder/dictaphone that's so light it seems to defy gravity. The cool black and grey facia is populated with only the most essential of controls, an orange backlit LCD display, a built-in speaker and, at the top, a tilting stereo mic.
The rear of the device features the power switch, a 3-position playback speed switch and a slider which extends a USB connector from within the body to plug into the supplied cable. This neat feature, along with the AAA battery compartment, takes up half of the unit's internal space, making its compact design even more impressive.
Switching on the Pocketrak reveals a simple menu screen that details battery life, basic recording settings, the destination folder, track number, time and remaining record time.
The menu system is easily navigable, with all the most important settings being quick to adjust. However, though the all-important record level is set in record standby mode, it would be nice if it could remain visible during the recording.
While fiddling about with record levels is out of the question, there is also an ALC setting (Automatic Level Control), with three sensitivity levels. ALC can often result in hideous over-limiting, but the Pocketrak doesn't display this aggressive behaviour.
There's also a voice/input-activated recording function, a useful feature but one that might not work with some quieter sources. And given that you have 2GB of internal memory at your disposal, you probably won't be too worried about saving recording time.
Many portable recorders miss the mark by using over-inflated operating systems that make for a long boot-up time – the essential period between getting the device out and getting a signal recorded. Not so the Pocketrak – this is the quickest starters we've used.
The Pocketrak impresses with its small size and low weight – it's an attractive option for anyone who wants to capture musical ideas, record speech or make field recordings. Add to this the MP3 player and data storage functionality and you've got a great all-rounder.
For the same price you can get more format options and higher resolutions – you're limited to 16-bit/44.1kHz here - but at the cost of battery life and most importantly of all, size. The Pocketrak 2G is a well-designed product that puts the onus on simplicity and ease of use.