Our first impression of the Sony Digital Voice Recorder ICD-B600 was that the item was made of stainless steel or aluminum. However once we hold it in our hand it was clear that was not the case. The enclosure was made of plastic and appears fragile. Should it fall on hard flooring it is possible it might crack. Otherwise it is very nice looking and well designed. It fits well in the palm of the hand and there is not too much problem in pressing the small buttons. It is very light (65g).
The built-in memory is 512 MB and allows up to 301 hours of recording. On HQ (High Quality) mode the recording time drops to 61 hours, which is still pretty good. We tested the sound quality for the 3 modes and without doubt the HQ mode sounds the best. In the LP (Long Play) mode the sound is audible but somewhat muffled. In SP (Short Play) mode the sound is fairly good. In all 3 modes the sound is kind of tinny. This is probably due to the tiny speaker. With an earphone the sound reproduction is way much better. We recommend using the recorder on the SP mode, which allows 163 h of recording.
We also tested the 2 modes of microphone sensitivity. Low mode is definitely best for dictation and the High mode is used to record a lecture or a meeting when the speakers are far away. We tried speaking from a distance of 10 m from the microphone and we could still understand the recording very well. There is not much difference between SP and HQ modes.
The Voice Operated Recording feature works very good. The recording pauses whenever there is no sound and resumes when sound is detected. The flow is smooth, there are no breaks in the sound recording.
We also like the alarm which plays a recorded message at any set time and date. It can also do it daily or weekly. You can use it to wake yourself up every morning, or to remind yourself to take your daily medication.
There are 4 folders where the messages can be stored and the messages can be moved from one folder to another.
It is also possible to divide a message which is too long and add a recording to a previously recorded message.
We recommend the Sony Digital Voice Recorder ICD-B600 and are pleased with its performance and features. One thing however we find some concern about is its battery usage. We used Panasonic Eneloop rechargeable batteries (2 AAA) and noticed that they get drained relatively quickly. Alkaline batteries are actually recommended for the recorder. Further Eneloop batteries are about 1.25 V compared to 1.5 V for alkaline. We however chose to use rechargeable batteries because it would be cheaper to operate the recorder on a daily basis.