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Portable Recorder
Battery Life Test Results

Rather than rely solely on manufacturer's claims, we wanted to find out for ourselves just how long batteries may last in the portable recorders we sell. Here's what we found. Your mileage may vary, of course.

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
picture of sony pcm-m10 picture of sony pcm-d50 picture of olympus ls-11
Sony PCM-M10
43.0 hours
Sony PCM-D50
25.5 hours
Olympus LS-11
19.2 hours

4th Place 5th Place 6th Place
picture of olympus ls-10 picture of tascam dr-07 picture of marantz pmd620
Olympus LS-10
8.5 hours
Tascam DR-07
7.5 hours
Marantz PMD620
6.4 hours

7th Place 8th Place 9th Place
picture of zoom h2 picture of marantz pmd661 picture of tascam dr-1
Zoom H2
6.3 hours
Marantz PMD661
5.8 hours
Tascam DR-1
5.8 hours

10th Place 11th Place 12th Place
picture of edirol r-09hr picture of m-audio microtrack ii picture of zoom h4n
Edirol R-09HR
5.3 hours
M-Audio MicroTrack II
4.8 hours
Zoom H4n
4.4 hours
(7.7 hours stamina)

13th Place 14th Place 15th Place
picture of sony pcm-d1 picture of korg mr-1 picture of zoom q3
Sony PCM-D1
4.0 hours
Korg MR-1
2.8 hours
Zoom Q3
1.6 hours
(movie mode)
2.6 hours

16th Place
picture of tascam dr100
Tascam DR-100
1.3 hours (AA)
5.7 hours (BP-L2)

How We Did the Battery Life Contest

First, we fully charged the Korg MR-1, MicroTrack II, and Tascam DR-1 and loaded the other recorders with Duracell Coppertop AA batteries - the kind you can find in almost any US retail store.

Second, to avoid the possibility of running out of memory before running out of power, we set all the units (except the Korg, the Sony D50 and the Sony D1) to record in MP3 format at 128 kbps.

The Sony D50 and D1 units were set at 16-bit/22.05 kHz wav files (they don't record mp3s). The Korg MR-1 was set at 16-bit 44.1kHz wav files.

Third, we pressed "record" on each unit and left them on until they ran out of power. The times noted are the total lengths of the resulting files.

Even after giving a "low battery" warning, each recorder (except the Zoom H2, which fully drained its batteries) retained approximately 30 minutes in reserve power.

Most impressive was the phenomenal performance of the Sony PCM-M10. That 43.0 hours is not a typographical error. We literally started it on a Saturday night and it kept going until late Monday afternoon. If battery life is a big concern for you, the Sony PCM-M10 seems to be the clear choice, with the Sony PCM-D50 and the Olympus LS-11 a distant second and third.

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