Pros / You don’t need a computer to digitize the contents of your tapes.
Cons / The device is a power hog that drains batteries in about an hour.
Verdict / This product is unique enough to warrant consideration, but there are some drawbacks you should be aware of before you buy it.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been replaced by another product. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
The Portable Cassette To MP3 Converter sold by Hammacher Schlemmer is a unique entry in our review of the best cassette converters. It requires no computer and no software to perform a conversion. It also produces a higher quality sound file than most of the products in our lineup. However, the fact that the device is a power hog and lacks any editing features whatsoever kept it out of the top tier of our side-by-side comparison chart.
What makes product unique among the cassette to MP3 converters we reviewed is that it allows you to bypass a computer altogether and transfer content directly to a USB flash drive. This has both advantages and drawbacks. The advantages include the fact that you don’t need a computer or audio software to convert your cassettes. The downside is that you don’t have the ability to input the metadata for the tracks you convert. This means that you have to manually input information like artist, album and song titles manually after the fact.
Additionally, you have no way of knowing if the conversion is working properly until you listen to the tracks after they’ve been converted. If something goes wrong in the conversion process you have to start all over again.
The most problematic aspect to this cassette converter is how it draws its power. It takes two AA batteries. However, the device requires so much power to operate that it will drain the batteries in about an hour. Alternatively, you can connect it to a power supply via its USB port. This is of limited value unless you connect it to a wall socket. If you hook it up to a computer it may or may not work. When we tested this product on a Macintosh computer we got an error message stating that the device was drawing too much power and OS X automatically shut it down.
The quality of the converted audio produced by this device is better than most of the other products on our lineup. For the most part we couldn’t detect any noise or warble in the recording. However, there was some noticeable distortion during the louder portions of the recording. Particular problems included background instruments like cymbals and horns don’t come through as clearly as the original recording.
The Portable Cassette To MP3 Converter is an interesting device in that it doesn’t function like any of the other cassette converters we reviewed. You don’t need a computer to perform a conversion, just a USB flash drive. The converted audio is surprisingly good considering that it there is no software component to the product. But it draws so much power that you need to either have a huge stash of batteries or plug it into a wall. The former is quite expensive and the latter basically eliminates the portability of the device.