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TapeDeck review


Needs Mac OS X 10.5

Review Date: 2 Jun 2008

Price when reviewed: (about £12)

Reviewed By: Giles Turnbull

Our Rating 4 stars out of 5

Anyone who has iLife installed on their Mac - and that's probably everyone who has bought a new Mac recently - already has a decent audio recording application.

It's called GarageBand, and it can do a very good job of recording audio from almost any source you care to plug in.

However, GarageBand isn't what you'd call a nimble application. It takes a little while for it to get warmed up and ready to record. If you want to record something simple, and do so quickly, you are likely to be looking for something a little lighter on its feet. TapeDeck is that application. It starts in a moment and is immediately ready to record. It combines simplicity of use with delightfully retro design that will appeal to those of us of a certain age who remember starting our music collections with cheap cassette recorders.

Those under the age of 20, who are unlikely to have used a tape, let alone owned one, might find the whole concept somewhat alien. But children of the 1980s (and further back) will take one look at this app and find themselves feeling nostalgic for the old days. And that's because it really does look like a tape deck. The buttons are big and clunky. They even make the big clunky sounds that those tape decks used to make. Press Record and you can hear the tape mechanism grinding into action. It's all completely digital, but does a superb job of pretending to be analogue. Completely pointless, but loads of fun.

Every recording is represented by a tape shown in the drawer on the right side. Click on a tape's spine to load it into the deck and start playing. Click on the text in a loaded tape to edit its name. Click on the large 'A' label to toggle through a range of text colours for the label that will appear when the tape is filed in the drawer. A small text field under the tape spools opens up to reveal a larger space for adding text annotations to any recording.

Aside from the obvious playback features, there's not much else to it. Recordings can be sent directly to iTunes and Mail. They're stored as .m4a files in a Finder location of your choice and can be deleted or moved from there.

TapeDeck was made for simplicity, and as a result omits all but the most essential features. While you can adjust the quality of each recording (high, medium or low), you can't change the file format it records in. You can't adjust the window size, either.

TapeDeck doesn't actually do very much, but what it does, it does with great style. Who's going to use it? Audio diarists, students recording lectures; podcasters? People who need to make regular simple recordings from a mic.

There's only one problem with TapeDeck. It looks fantastic and is fun to play with for 10 minutes, but after that are you really going to get $25 dollars' worth of usage from it? The answer is only going to be 'yes' if frequent, simple audio recordings are part of your daily routine.

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