The history of voice recording is pretty supple. This technology was born in the century of new inventions, the nineteenth century. It was in 1877 when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph which was basically an improved version of phonautograph invented by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in 1857. In this phonograph, a diaphragm operated by the vibrations of sound waves and a stylus recorded those waves on a piece of tin foil. This device had a crank, which when rotated would run the stylus on the waves it produced in backward motion to reproduce the sound recorded via the diaphragm. This is how voice recording was born.
The Phonograph advanced into the twentieth century and was a common way of recording sounds. When the microphone was invented in 1925, it was made possible to record the sound by using an electric medium.
Fast forward to the digital era of recording beginning in 1975, there were many portable devices to record sounds. These included wiretapping used by secret agencies, magnetic tape recorders, cassette players and portable radios. The mobile phone was in it's infancy back then and it could only send or receive calls rather than being your typical recording device. Seeing the popularity of these gadgets, watchmakers from the Far East made their own innovations.
The first voice recording watch was introduced by Citizen in the early 1980s. The C0110 watch, affectionately called the "voice memo" was a dressy watch with a digital and analog display. It had two tiny buttons at the front for recording and playing back voice and a large speaker beside the analog dial which played back the sound you had recorded from the tiny microphone. Beneath it was a tiny digital display with basic functions. It's considered a big deal in the collector's market today.
Casio was a little late to this game as they were with the world time alarm (Seiko did that first). They introduced the A-V1 in 1994. This stylish sports style watch featured a clean digital display, a small microphone at the front and a speaker at the back for playing back the voice. Labelled "Easy Rec" by Casio, it featured ergonomic buttons for recording and playing back sound while also featuring one of the first applications of Electroluminescent backlight technology on a Casio watch.
This was followed by the A-V2, A-V3 and A-V4. Then this technology trickled down to the data bank line which resulted in the watch in question. The DB-V30 and it's "Stainless Steel" version called the DB-V300 which were introduced in 1995.
This rather toyish looking watch is the rare "Sampling Mania" edition. I did some research and some blog post about it claims it was introduced in 1996. It was a hipster version of the DB-V30 which was as tacky as a toy which you'd find with your happy meal. Like the watch I previously reviewed, it's made in Korea which means it's embargoed in Europe. Interestingly, the buckle says "Japan".
It came with this unusual looking strap which was also present on the standard DB-V30 and a similar case design as the A-V1 with a 6 button layout. It doesn't have a recessed adjust button and it now requires a long press of 2 seconds to get the watch into adjusting mode. The calendar of this watch ranges from 1995 to 2039. This toy looking watch has a Gothic theme going on about it and is very yellow with dark blue accents. And I really mean it's yellow, even the edges of the crystal and the borders of the screen are yellow which makes it look like a flashy Lamborghini. It has a Gothic "Sampling Mania" script on the strap on one side with fire graphics on the other. That theme continues on the crystal as well as on one "flap" of the filmsy strap which reads "30 seconds" to remind you that it can record voice at a maximum of 30 seconds only which is not that bad considering that you don't need hours long voice memos. Really this watch looks like it was made for a hipster biker club. Being the resin version it has a plastic case with a snap on cover around the screen which also serves s the cover for the microphone and has plastic buttons. They are easy to press and allow for trouble free operation. The case back has holes for the large speaker and is very shiny than normal. It's secured by four tiny screws. The crystal is acrylic and scratches easily.
In the main timekeeping mode or home time, we've got hours, minutes, seconds, the day and the date in the seven segment display while the date and the year in the top dot matrix display. Beside the dot matrix display we've got "Memo" written and beneath that appears numbers from 1 to 5. This indicates that how much of the voice records out of 5 you have used. On the very top of the screen, a bar display from 1 to 30 indicates how many seconds of voice recording have been used out of the available 30. Voice is recorded by pressing and holding the big "Rec" button until the watch beeps and "Rec" with a mini tape appears on the dot matrix display. You can stop recording by pressing the "Rec" button again and "Stop" will appear in the display. The watch will beep and the recording would be stored in the memory. Here is a demo of the sound quality. Voice records are cleared by pressing and holding the "Clear" button in main time mode. You cannot clear a specific voice memo. All memos are cleared at once.
It lives up to its "illuminator" name inscribed on it by having a nice Electroluminescent backlight with a cross design in the background activated by the light button on the top right. This leaves me thinking why Casio dropped this feature on data banks of today and reverted to LED back lights.
The next mode is the voice memo mode and it shows you the memos you have recorded in a chronological order with the date and time you recorded the memo. You can select a desired memo by using the buttons on the right and play it in this mode by using the play button.
The next mode is the data bank usual telememo mode which can store up-to 30 phone numbers. A thing to note here is that the memory is shared between voice and telememos which means that if you have records stored in either of the two modes, then the capacity of the other mode of storing data is going to be limited.
The next mode is the alarm mode. This watch has a total of 5 alarms and a hourly signal. You can either set a normal beep alarm or the alarm of the sound you have recorded A pretty handy feature. The alarm is pretty loud owing to the speaker at the back of the watch and two piezo springs in the sound mechanism. The alarms are multi-function which means they can be set either daily, monthly, yearly or on a specific date which means you can wish someone happy birthday or even set a reminder to go full sexum. The alarm is activated by selecting an alarm by using the buttons on the right and then by pressing the "Rec" button to scroll through activation and deactivation. Same steps apply to the hourly signal.
The next mode is the timer mode and it's the only mode in which the watch displays the home time. It's useless in 12 hour format as the watch doesn't display any indication of AM or PM. The timer can be set from 1 minute to 24 hours. Auto repeat can be toggled on an off by pressing the "Play" button and an hour glass appears besides "TIMER" in the dot matrix display indicating that auto repeat is on. The timer is operated by the buttons on the front. The "Play" button starts the timer while the "Rec" button stops and resets it.
Then there is a 1/100th second stopwatch in which the time display is replaced by 1/100th of a second display. The stop watch has a range of 24 hours and comes with standard split time feature. It is also operated by the front buttons.
All in all, it's a watch full of features with some disadvantages to it. First disadvantage is the memory it has for the telememo mode. It was the first of its kind in the data bank line so I can understand the limited memory. Second is the lack of home time display in normal watch modes. Third is it's toy like construction which makes it look like a kid's watch. I initially had no plans of getting this but after missing out on a DB-V300, I had to pull the trigger on this one before it got sold as well. It gets a 6 out of 10 from me due to the reasons I mentioned. It's a good lightweight beater watch with hipster fashion vibe to it. but not soemthing I'd be wearing to work.
This model was followed up by the DBC-V150. With a capacity to store 150 telememo records along with radium keypad, electroluminescent backlight and a host of other features including world time with added vice recording. It was the ultimate data bank watch. But it's hard to get like this and there are very slim chances to get one at a good price. For the 40 euros I paid for this DB-V30. I'm quite happy.