In an era marked by the convergence of technology and convenience, digital voice recorders have emerged as indispensable companions for capturing, preserving, and sharing the spoken word. These compact pieces of modern engineering and technology are designed to transform audio into a digital data, offering an array of applications that cater to both professional endeavors and personal moments.
From boardrooms to lecture halls, from interviews to studio sessions, digital voice recorders stand as faithful companions, offering an elegant synthesis of form and function. What if we told there are few devices in the market that can not only record audio but also transcribe the recording to text? A digital voice recorder with a transcriber function offers the capability to not only record audio but also automatically convert that audio into text, making the transcription process faster and more efficient. This feature is particularly valuable for professionals who need accurate and timely transcriptions, such as journalists, researchers, students, legal professionals, and business professionals.
We recently came across one such device that, at its core, is a digital voice recorder, but has various AI features integrated into it that helps in transcribing the recorded data. It is known as the PLAUD NOTE AI Voice Recorder. The “AI” part of the voice recorder makes use of ChatGPT, the recent sensational AI language model. It can create summary documents among other things based on the transcriptions.
This is the review of the PLAUD NOTE, a ChatGPT based AI Voice Recorder. We are writing this review after using and testing the device for its voice recording capabilities, along with transcription and ChatGPT features. Continue reading to find out our thoughts and impressions of the same.
Let us unbox the package and take a look at its contents. Opening the box, we have the main event i.e., the PLAUD NOTE Voice Recorder. We will take a closer look at the device in the next section. Exploring further, we have a MagSafe Case. You can insert the PLAUD NOTE in this case and attach the case to the back of your iPhone. There is also a MagSafe Ring in the package which goes on the back of the MagSafe case. This is useful if you have a non-magnetic iPhone case or even an Android Phone.
Next, we have the charging cable. It is an interesting cable as it has the regular USB Connector on one end but has a 4-pin magnetic connector on the other. If you look at the PLAUD NOTE, you can see the matching pin layout on its back. Then we have a USB-A to USB-C adapter. This is very useful if you have a laptop that doesn’t have the regular USB Ports. You can use this adapter to quickly dump the files to your laptop. That’s it for the contents. In the next section, we will talk more about the actual PLAUD NOTE.
The first thing we notice after holding the PLAUD NOTE in our hands is its thickness, or the lack thereof. It is just 3mm thick (or 0.117” as per the specifications). The entire device is made up of Aluminum alloy and you can feel how sturdy it is. Kudos to electrical and mechanical engineers who worked together on the design of this product.
On the front (the side with the PLAUD label), there is a two-position slide switch and a button right to it. A good attention to detail is integrating the status LED in the letter “A” of the PLAUD branding. On the top, you can see two cutouts for microphones. That’s right. The PLAUD NOTE has two microphones.
On the back, specifically the bottom part of the back, houses the contacts for the charging and data syncing connector. This style of connector allowed the designer to make the overall thickness of the PLAUD NOTE very less as they don’t have to worry about integrating a USB Port.
First and foremost, the PLAUD NOTE is a digital voice recorder. With the press of a single button, you can record meetings, phone calls, classes, whatever you want. Pair the device with the official app on your smartphone and you can instantly playback the recordings. There are many voice recorders that can do this. So, what’s so special about the PLAUD NOTE?
Here comes the PLAUD AI, a special addon to the app that can quickly transcribe the recordings and create a summary document with the help of ChatGPT. Imagine a journalist, who after a long interview has to look at his/her notes while editing the document. PLAUD NOTE completely removes this middle step and provides them with a (almost) ready to publish summary. Apart from just summarizing the recording, PLAUD AI can also create meeting-style notes, diary-like text, to-do list, and even a tree-style mind map.
All these capabilities are good on paper. Let us see them in action. If you remember, the PLAUD NOTE has a two-position switch. When you toggle the switch down, the PLAUD NOTE activates its “Note Recording” mode. This is suitable for recording regular one-on-one conversations, meetings, etc. In order to record, just slide down the switch and press the button adjacent to the switch once. The PLAUD NOTE will vibrate once to indicate that the recording has started. Yes. The PLAUD NOTE has a vibration motor built-in. Additionally, the status LED will light-up in red.
To stop the recording, just press the button once and the PLAUD NOTE will vibrate twice to indicate that it stopped recording. Once you stop the recording, the PLAUD NOTE will immediately save the file. But how to playback the recording? You have to install the official app, the PLAUD App (available for both Android and iOS). Once you install the app on your smartphone, the setup process was very simple. Just give some basic permissions and pair the device to the app. That’s it. You can immediately sync the device to your iPhone and view the recordings.
The UI and overall feel of the app feels very similar to the iZYREC Recorder App we reviewed a while ago. That’s because, the developer of both these products are one and the same.
The free PLAUD NOTE app has only the basic features of controlling the device, viewing the recordings, and playing them back. But if you want the additional AI features, then you have to subscribe to the PLAUD AI Membership. Once you unlock those features, you get the “Transcription” and “ChatGPT” features while you are playing a recording.
Transcription, as the name suggests, is a voice-to-text service that analyzes the recordings and converts them to texts with time stamps. It takes a couple of seconds to process the data and if you have a lengthy recording, then you need to wait a little more. The transfer speed is roughly 10-30% of the time for uploading audio. Once the app finishes transcribing the recording, you can initiate the ChatGPT option to create Summary, Meeting Note, Class Note, Diary, and a Mind Map, depending on your requirement.
What happens when we toggle the switch up? This activates the Phone Call Recording Mode. The specialty of this mode is it activates the Vibration Conduction Sensor (VCS) on the PLAUD NOTE, which can precisely record the internal phone sound. To record a phone call, snap the PLAUD NOTE on the back of your smartphone (iPhone or Android) and just slide the toggle switch up.
How was the performance of the PLAUD NOTE AI Voice Recorder? Let us begin with the regular voice recorder stuff. PLAUD NOTE has two high-quality MEMS microphones from Knowles SiSonic. With these mics, it can record a whopping 1536 kbps audio. Of course, this is only possible if you select the stereo mode without any Noise Cancellation features. Speaking of which, the PLAUD NOTE has a decent AI Noise Cancelling algorithm that tries (and mostly delivers) to reduce the background noise in recordings. Additionally, you can set the scene of recording, enable or disable status LED, and many other things in the app.
Coming to the AI features of PLAUD NOTE AI Voice Recorder, the transcription feature works really well apart from a few mis-transcribed words. Once the recording is transcribed, the rest is for ChatGPT to interpret the data and prepare a summary. Remember the transcription and ChatGPT features are not free and you have to subscribe to them. Thankfully, PLAUD NOTE is offering the first year PLAUD AI subscription at a very low cost for early adopters.
The recording quality in both normal recording as well as call recording is very good. We are not sure how the Vibration Conduction Sensor works but the recordings could capture the voice of the person on the other end of the call very clearly.
The PLAUD NOTE AI Voice Recorder has a small 400mAh battery. On paper, this gives about 30 hours of continuous recording. But in out testing, we got around 26 hours of non-stop recording on a single charge. This is more than enough for long interviews, meetings, and podcasts. Once the battery is completely drained, it took slightly over 2 hours to fully charge it back. To get the maximum battery life from the device, you need to turn off AI Noise Cancellation, status LED (yes, you can control the LED), and importantly, do not connect PLAUD NOTE to the App. The PLAUD NOTE comes with a 64GB on-board EMMC storage which gives you roughly 480 hours of recording time.
The price of the PLAUD NOTE at the time of reviewing the product is $99. This includes a 1-month PLAUD AI membership. The prices are likely to go up once the early bird quantity is over. PLAUD NOTE also comes with an 18-month warranty. If you want to make use of the full potential of the PLAUD NOTE, then you have to use their PLAUD AI services. For early adopters, PLAUD NOTE is offering a discounted subscription on 1-year plan.
Overall, we really like the idea and implementation of the PLAUD NOTE AI Voice Recorder. Apart from being a regular digital voice recorder, the PLAUD NOTE can convert the voice recordings to text and even create summary documents with the help of ChatGPT.
Journalists and podcasters are the category of people/professions that first come to mind who can really take advantage of such a device. Although, corporate employees and students can also make use of the transcription feature. The PLAUD NOTE is a very thin device that you can easily attach on the back of your iPhone (or Android Phone). The phone call recording feature is also very useful.
The quality of recordings is really good and there are a ton of customizations you can do with the help of the smartphone app. If you are looking for a decent voice recorder that can also transcribe the recording for you, then there is no other product like the PLAUD NOTE. It is one of a kind and really worth the investment, provided you need those features that come at a premium.