February 09 2011
Retro as a style gimmick can work well, but retro functionality in a gadget is a rare thing. Technology has a nasty habit of making things more complicated – think only of the typical DSLR camera with about 90 buttons and 500 menus, and you might almost imagine a classic 35mm camera such as a Nikon F or Pentax Spotmatic with its three manual controls to be the more advanced.
This seemingly unremarkable little office voice recorder from Olympus is quite revolutionary in its way. It’s not only the size and form of an old microcassette recorder, but is minus the microcassettes. It also has the same buttons, too – play, stop, record, fast forward and reverse – big and bold. You’re about as likely to screw up with the DP-20 as you would have been with an Olympus microcassette recorder, which the Japanese company brought out in 1969. That’s to say, it’s not impossible that you will end up with the 2011 version of a tangled tape, but you’d have to try quite hard.
The DP-20’s retro style and function make it unusually pleasing with 67 hours’ recording time rather than 30 minutes per side of tape.