Combining their signature sleek design aesthetic with a focus on UX, Teenage Engineering's TP-7 Field Recorder is an audio recording device with wonderfully tactile controls that solve a lot of problems for those who record interviews. The company refers to the TP-7's UX design, accurately I think, as "zero friction."
With a smartphone recording app, there's three steps until you're on: Unlock your phone, find the app, hit the record button. The TP-7 has one step: Press the "Memo" button on the side (indicated by the orange square) and the device instantly turns on and starts recording.
For situations where you can take your time, there are also conventional Stop, Play and Record buttons at lower left.
The TP-7's user feedback is highly visible and welcomely redundant. When recording, not only is there a red light that illuminates, but the central wheel (meant to recall a tape reel) spins, a digital counter rolls numbers and two VU meters indicate audio levels; the user can have no doubt that audio is being captured--a crucial piece of reassurance to those of us who've lost interviews due to tech fumbles.
The spinning reel isn't merely symbolic, but functional. Should you wish to momentarily pause the recording—if the subject wants to go "off the record," for instance—touching and stopping the reel also stops the recording. Release it, and you're back on.
The rocker switch on the left side (or top, in the rotated photo below) is for scrubbing through footage, forwards or backwards. The wheel turns in concert.
Conveniently, a companion iPhone app transcribes recorded audio into text.
The TP-7's rechargeable battery is good for 7 hours, and the 128GB of storage is enough to record "Five minutes of ideas a day for 20 years."
The asking price is a hefty $1,500, and the device is slated to debut this summer.
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