While I can type between 150 and 170 words a minute on my computer, my handwriting leaves a lot to be desired, both in terms of legibility and speed. Luckily, Olympus recently provided me with two professional recorders to test when conducting interviews; I decided to try the top of the line one, the DS-7000.

One of the reasons I preferred the DS-7000 was the slide switch control on the back. Slide up to record, slide back down to stop, slide down even further to play what you just recorded and slide down the farthest to rewind. For whatever reason, I just found that flexibility worked better than traditional buttons and made it easier to hold the recorder in one hand.

The sound quality was fairly good, though I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to test the unit in very loud environments with background noise. The microphone is on the top right of the unit, however, and it’s easily visible making it easy for you to know where exactly to point.

The DS-7000 came with dictation software, but for my purposes, I didn’t need a full transcription—just the ability to pull a few quotes here and there. There’s also 256-bit file encryption built-in, which again, was a bit overkill for my needs. The DS-7000 also comes with a nice USB-powered docking cradle for your computer.

You can insert an SD card, but I never found I ran out of room. (I don’t conduct that many interviews.) While the UI built into the unit practically screams for a touchscreen, I found I was able to follow what button I needed to push when I was trying to execute certain commands.

Most interviews I conduct for Starpulse are done over email—with good reason. Transcribing can be a time-consuming process that not many of us have the ability to set aside the hours for. But on the rare occasions when I am conducting interviews in person, I hope I get to hold onto my DS-7000 for just a bit longer. Even if it does plenty of functions I plan to never use.

The DS-7000 is available now for $499 and is recommended for professionals looking for a top-of-the-line recorder.

* Disclosure: A DS-7000 was provided by Olympus for the purposes of this review. *