Sunday, February 1, 2009

CallRec gives your Treo better call recording

PRODUCT REVIEW

By Heather Wardell

I keep everything I need to know in my Palm Treo 680, but sometimes I can't easily type in new information. At those times, I use the voice recorder to store things for later processing. The PDA came with a built-in voice recording program, and it more or less did what I needed. QMobilSoft's CallRec, though, promises to do so much more.

CallRec works on all Palm OS smartphones (Treo 650/680/700p/755p or Palm Centro smartphone), recording voice memos directly to the required SD card. In addition, the software can record incoming and outgoing phone calls.

Comparison to the Voice Memo application

Figure A shows Voice Memo on the left and CallRec on the right, both while making a recording. On the surface, the two applications have very similar functionality. CallRec, however, has several distinct advantages.

FIGURE A

Voice Memo on the left and CallRec on the right. (click for larger image)

The built-in application ends a recording when you leave the Voice Memo application, but CallRec continues recording as I move from application to application, which could be useful if you were looking for a piece of information while making a recording.

In contrast to the Voice Memo's proprietary format, CallRec stores its recordings as WAV files, which are far easier to use in other applications or to send via email. CallRec also offers a HotSync conduit, something not available in my Treo's version of the Palm Desktop, although there are issues with this as I discuss below.

Both applications use the Treo's side button to initiate recording. Voice Memo requires me to hold down the record button for the duration of the recording. Not the world's biggest annoyance, but inconvenient while driving. CallRec allows me to push the button once and then push it again to end the recording.

Interestingly, the Voice Memo application always cut off the last two seconds or so of my recordings, requiring me to hold the record button a bit longer to ensure I didn't lose the last word. CallRec doesn't do this. CallRec's sound quality is also considerably better.

Synchronization and encryption

The Palm Desktop that came with my Treo does not show the Voice Memo recordings, so I was happy to see that CallRec offers a HotSync conduit. The recordings still do not appear in the Palm Desktop but can be easily accessed by going to your Palm data folder. It's not a true conduit, though, as recordings are not deleted from the desktop when they're erased from the Palm. It's unfortunate, both because it means unnecessary use of your hard disk space and because it causes a problem with the encryption system.