Friday, September 26, 2014

What is the best digital dictation device?

We get asked this question a lot - multiple times per day on average.

Our answer is always the same.  It depends.  Seems like a cop out, I am sure, but the truth is that while most professional grade digital dictation equipment is built to high standards, some features that are a must for some users, just get in the way of others.

With that being said, we have learned quite a bit over the years by both selling all of the major brands of dictation and recording equipment, and supporting them as well.  If you ever want to learn the pros and cons of a product, just field the technical support calls for a while.

Some of the truths that we have found in our years of experience:

If you have used a cassette based or analog voice recorder in the past, you want a slide switch device

When digital recorders first came out, the design followed the standard template for all electronics at the time.  Smaller is better, with push button controls.  Users hated them.  The devices were too small to be ergonomically correct, and people would think they pressed "Record" only to find they accidentally pressed "Pause"  or some other button and dictated away, unaware that their time and effort was for naught.  Those tech calls were not fun to be on the receiving end of.

Long story short- the slide switch is the way to go.  It is intuitive and tactile.  You feel when the switch is pushed up and can be sure that you are actually recording and not just talking to yourself on the drive to work.

The best models today are the Olympus DS-7000 and the Philips DPM8000

Lawyers lean towards Philips, Doctors towards Olympus -Corporate users seem to be a dead split

We are proud to be authorized partners for both Olympus and Philips Dictation. We consider both to be equals in quality, reliability and features.  It has been years of experience with actual users that have revealed this dichotomy to us.  Perhaps the features, look, or feel just made a natural connection with one particular brand and profession, or maybe each manufacturer made early inroads into the two fields which trickled down.  We are not sure how it happened, but it did.

To be sure, there are exceptions.  We have whole medical practices happily using Philips, and many attorneys who would not give their Olympus DS series recorders up for anything.  Our recommendation is always to go with what integrates with your current system, or if starting from scratch, call us at 1-866-408-1383 for advice as to what will work best for you.  We have done this a time or two and will point you in the right direction.

You get what you pay for

The difference in price between the lowest cost, yet usable dictation and transcription equipment and the top of the line, "give me all the bells and whistles" is negligible at best.  For a couple of hundred dollars, you are not only getting a better built product, but also better software with more features like scalability, security, and file transfer options.  I have not even mentioned the direct integration with speech recognition, such as Dragon Medical, Dragon Legal or Dragon Professional

To put it quite bluntly, take the pittance you save on the front end, and figure out what your time is worth per hour.  Using consumer equipment in a professional environment will certainly result in an enormous loss in productivity, as well as overall dissatisfaction with the technology. Many times users of inferior equipment will abandon the products entirely, resulting in a total financial loss.

How you transfer your files is as important as the equipment itself.

This is a classic example of the idiom "just because you can, doesn't mean you should".  What am I talking about?  FTP vs. e-mail.  Of all the no-brainers I run into daily, this one is that should result in the quickest decision.  Use FTP. Period. End of story.  A huge amount of our technical support calls are explaining to customers that no matter how important their work is, we are not Google, Yahoo, Comcast, or some other provider, and we cannot fix their email problems.

Now compound that issue with the security and compliance problems associated with e-mail, and I cannot figure out for the life of me why some people insist on using it for voice file transfer.  I suppose it goes back to the last point of being "penny wise and pound foolish" but is $17 per month really the line that causes people to roll the dice with their clients, patients, and peace of mind?  I certainly hope not.

To conclude today's rant, the answer to the question of what is the best digital dictation technology really comes down to personal preference coupled with integration with existing equipment and software.  As far a workflow, quality and usability, both Philips and Olympus have you covered assuming you opt for their professional line of products.

Call us at 1-866-408-1383 or visit us online at for a more in depth, personalized needs assessment.

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