Companies are eyeing the high end with multifunction digital voice recorders even as they continue to populate selections for the gifts and premiums segment.
Faced with stiff competition from mobile devices with recording capability, China suppliers of digital voice recorders are upping the ante in functionality to bolster sales. More makers are taking the image and video capture route, hoping to leverage healthy demand for products with this capability to penetrate the high end and broaden market reach. These releases are expanding selections, which also constitute basic units for the gifts and premiums sector.
Manufacturers such as Shenzhen Bmorn Technology Co. Ltd plan to focus on multifunction digital voice recorders. Its C71 model captures still and video images in JPEG and AVI formats, respectively. The product has a 1.2in OLED screen and VRB and VOR functions. It reads MP3, WMA, WMV, ASF and Ogg Vorbis files.
The DVR-156 model from Shenzhen Hnsat Industrial Co. Ltd has a rotatable lens that can shoot from different angles. It delivers a maximum resolution of 1280x1024 pixels in JPEG and 640x480 in AVI.
Releases boasting image and video recording are targeted at professional users such as journalists who carry data around and would like to be able to access information on the go. Other multifunction variants double as toys, pens, photo frames, watches and key rings. The MP502 model, for example, from One Audio Electronics Ltd works as a pen. It has 512MB to 8GB built-in flash memory, a USB port and a rechargeable Li-ion battery. The unit supports MP3, WMA, ASF and WAV audio files.
Although makers are adding features and functions, they have not discontinued R&D work on the product’s audio recording quality. Many in fact are designing better microphones, with some enterprises forecasting external ones becoming a trend in the months ahead. The R5589 model from Beijing Huaqi Information (Aigo) Digital Technology Co. Ltd has an omnidirectional external microphone. The C73 model from Shenzhen Bmorn has three microphones for enhanced audio.
Further, the latest releases incorporate noise reduction, password access, power-off protection and synchronous monitoring.
Digital voice recorder selection
Boosting digital voice recorder exports
Hong Kong: Professional, consumer applications supported
Mainstream products from China have 1.1in LCD or OLED screens, basic recording modes, USB ports and earphone jacks. They support ACT, WAV and MP3 formats. Most run on AAA, AA or rechargeable lithium batteries.
Entry-level releases make up about 35 percent of total yield. These are equipped with speakers and microphones, and incorporate USB ports and earphone jacks. The playback capability covers MP3 and WAV files. Power comes from AAA or AA batteries.
Midrange units, which account for about 50 percent of the country’s output, pack 1.1 to 1.3in LCD or OLED screens and one-key recording. Such devices record on ACT, WAV and MP3, but can play WMA and ASF files as well. They have LP, SP and HQ modes, and VOR and voice recording bookmark features. Telephone recording, USB and line-in/out ports, earphone jacks and FM radios are also incorporated.
Some intermediate units have built-in microphones, stereo speakers, power-off protection and lyrics synchronization. Power is from AAA, AA or rechargeable lithium batteries. The housing is usually made of ABS and metal.
High-end recorders boast larger OLED screens, mostly reaching 1.5in. Besides the modes and formats supported by midrange types, these units work with SHQ and read APE and Ogg Vorbis. AGC, VOR and VRB functions are likewise incorporated. Further, upscale releases are equipped with FM radios, multiple microphones, stereo speakers, power-off protection, lyrics synchronization, telephone recording, USB and line-in/out ports, SD/MMC slots and earphone jacks. They have noise reduction, password, synchronous monitoring, Bluetooth connectivity, and still image and video capture capability. Most are housed in ABS and metal, and run on rechargeable lithium batteries, which are sourced locally.
The key components and materials for production are the LCD and OLED panels, recording chips and lithium batteries. Most mainland China manufacturers source the first two locally, particularly from Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces, while the rest are purchased from Taiwan. Some enterprises obtain ICs from Hong Kong and South Korea partners as well.
Overall, input supply is expected to remain stable, although several companies see a shortage of 1.1 and 1.5in LCD panels. As such, prices of digital voice recorders are projected to stay at current levels, if not decrease by 5 percent in the next six to 12 months.
Outbound shipments in this export-driven line are forecast to rise by 5 to 10 percent in the next six to 12 months. The increase will be driven by stable demand from developed markets and mounting orders from emerging destinations. Half of manufacturers’ overseas business comes from the US and Europe.
At Shenzhen Bmorn, the two areas absorb nearly 50 percent of midrange and high-end product exports, with deliveries likely to surge in the next 12 months. Beijing Huaqi Information sees rising orders from Japan, its main market. Besides expanding output, the company plans to increase investment, adjust prices and improve aftersales service to attract more clients.
In addition to boosting sales in traditional destinations, makers are eyeing South America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
In terms of applications, makers forecast releases for the entry-level and midrange segments to continue dominating orders. At present, only about 10 percent of the 50-company supplier base offer professional-use digital voice recorders.
Digital voice recorders from Hong Kong can be broadly classified into two based on target applications, namely professional and consumer. Regardless of category, almost all models can be directly plugged into a USB port for data transfer and recharging the built-in battery.
Most units support two to four recording modes from LP to HQLP, which are doubled if mono and stereo settings are available. User-friendly features are highlighted together with entertainment functions. Visual enhancements via color OLED displays and trendy exteriors also characterize the latest releases.
The multifunction trend is encouraging more companies to increase the built-in storage capacity. Most models now support 2 or 4GB. Some devices allow memory expansion through an external microSD slot.
As each extra feature entails a price adjustment, suppliers try to keep quotes competitive by categorizing releases into different series. For instance, several versions are promoted for their stereo recording and integrated FM radio. Others are designed to double as USB flash drives and MP3 players. Those positioned as music players highlight the various audio formats supported, including MP3, WMA, WAV and Ogg Vorbis.
Each series emphasizes two or three main features. Companies take into account the specific needs of target users such as business executives, language learners, live music enthusiasts and university students during the design and development phase. Top-of-the-line releases boast linear PCM stereo recording and integrate up to 16GB internal memory, VOX, noise cancellation, time stamp, an external microphone and earphone jacks. Some units for visually challenged users boast a voice guide system.
Hong Kong has at least 15 microacoustic product and audio player suppliers offering digital voice recorders. Some of them are long-time manufacturers of the former, carrying cassette recorders, portable radios and similar devices in their catalogs. Output remains robust as companies update their portfolios regularly although almost all new MP3 players, mobile phones and other electronic gadgets have voice recording capability.
Eston Technology Ltd is one of the territory’s major vendors in this line. The supplier’s latest release, the E2 model, is available in 1, 2 and 4GB versions.
Vintion Electronics Co. Ltd owns multiple patents for digital voice recorders. The maker’s MSC brand is widely distributed locally. The MSC ICD-UR series doubles as a USB flash drive and boasts one-button recording and HQ mode.
Beijing Huaqi Information (Aigo) Digital Technology Co.
Eston Technology Ltd
One Audio Electronics Ltd
Shenzhen Bmorn Technology Co. Ltd
Shenzhen Hnsat Industrial Co. Ltd
Vintion Electronics Co. Ltd
Model: MSC ICD-S600 series
Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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