Newish Zoom Recorders

Just to be clear. I am not talking about Zoom, the video conference tool. I am talking about Zoom, the audio/visual recording hardware company. For long time readers of IT Babble, you may know that I have a sweet spot for Zoom.

I own a Zoom H6 for about 8 years and absolutely love it. The Zoom has never, never failed me in all that time. The build quality is rock solid. If I happened to drop it I certainly wouldn’t worry too much and it can run on a variety of power sources:

  • AA Batteries
  • USB power bank
  • Computer power
  • A plug in brick adapter with a USB input

There is more, in fact I could easily write a whole post just about my H6 and how it is a great podcasting machine, but folks, I am here to bring news of Zoom’s most recent endeavors and how awesome they are.

Podktrak P4 & P8

Zoom doesn’t mess around with these two. While the H6 is a handy recorder with an attached mic, these two are far more focused in their intention. The P4 (pictured below) has 4 XLR inputs with 4 headphone outputs (one for each track). You can control the gain for each input and the listener can independently adjust their headphone levels!

Like my H6 though, it can run off of standard batteries or a USB powered input (DC, from a computer, or a USB power bank). This makes it very portable. It also looks like you can mute individual inputs while recording (something the H6 can’t do). It also records to an SD card which means there is no need for it to be plugged into a computer though if you want to go that route you sure can.

Oh yeah, it can handle phantom power too if you have a mic that requires it. All of this for about $200 USD. This, of course,includes no microphones or XLR cables, but honestly, you can pick up those on the cheap, cheap especially if it is just a spoken word podcast. While the Shure SM58 will sound fantastic, you and your students will also sound pretty good with an affordable set of Behringer mics. Finally you can integrate 4 sound effects that you can trigger just from pressing a button. Think laugh tracks, applause or whatever meme sound you’d like to integrate.

The P8 is the other podcast focused machine Zoom has released and it is pretty crazy. While much larger than the P4 it still is technically portable as it can run on batteries. That size those comes with a sizable amount of options!

You have 9 assignable sound effects and four banks (36 total sound effects) to pick from while recording. You can edit the recording right from this deck meaning less of a need for a computer. It has 6 XLR inputs and of course there are 6 headphone outputs with individual gain and headphone volume control independently. There is a dedicated channel (not one of the 6 previously mentioned) from remote calls (Zoom, Skype, phone calls, etc.)

Oh yeah, this can also plug right into the computer if you want to stream it out live or record it directly into another program like Audacity, GarageBand, Logic, etc. The P8 is $500 which is certainly up there.

Not only are these two super powerful, they are also very easy to use. You don’t need to be an audio engineer to feel comfortable with these products.

H8

What am I looking at here?

This looks like a killer machine from the Matrix. However, this is the new H8. It is definitely the new big brother to the H6 which I have. First, it has 6 XLR inputer plus the included microphone (the one on the top can be swapped with others that cost extra). It has a touch screen that will let you swap between music, field recorder and podcast modes. Very nice. This is a much more diverse machine than the Podtraks, but if you are thinking of using this just for podcasting, it would be more than enough, but there is only a single audio out meaning if you’re recording a podcast, only one person can monitor the sound.

It’s not a deal breaker, but if you have panelist who is really moving in their seat or turning their head away from the mic, their voice can sometimes fade and increase in volume. It makes it harder to mix after the recording. If that person was monitoring their own audio, then they would most likely quickly pick up on that “bad” behavior and hopefully fix it.

At any rate this beauty will set you back $350 USD. A little steep to be sure.

Should you get any of these?

It really depends. If you’re really into bringing podcasting into your school then at least consider them. I know that students have iPads, Chromebooks or other devices on carts that they can use so it can be a hard sell to principal or business office to get them to sign off on this.

I like to frame these purchases as multifaceted solutions. They can help record group meetings, interviews, promotional material for the school and of course student podcasting or live broadcasting. When looked at this purchase like that, it makes it a lot more appealing than just a $200 device for podcasting in my 7th grade elective class that may not even be offered next year.

In any case, they are cool! While there are other podcasting rigs out there to consider, Zoom equipment is built tough and built to last a long time.

CloudApp – A review

Do you ever have those apps that you like using. That you genuinely enjoy firing up and doing some work in it? Well CloudApp is one of those apps for me. I’ve been using for nearly a decade now and it just gets better and better.

What does it do?

In short, it performs four main functions.

  1. It can host images or media in the cloud
  2. It can take screenshots that you can crop, annotate
  3. It can take a video that you can quickly trim and add annotations to it
  4. You can upload files to quickly share (since I use Google Drive this isn’t such a big deal)

Not only can it do those things it has a nice web interface if you want to log into the website and use it. It has apps for Mac and Windows and even iOS so you can have all your content available on whatever platform you use. Heck they even have a Chrome Extension so it can work with Chromebooks. No Android app yet but I’m hopeful it will come soon.

There is a paid version but I think the free version would be more than enough for most people which is rare. Continue reading “CloudApp – A review”

Buying Chromebooks next year? ORDER NOW!

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

This is more of a PSA than an opinion or review. If you are a school who buys/leases Chromebooks every year go ahead and order them now! From vendors I’ve talked to there is a backlog of Chromeook orders waiting to be filled. In fact we ordered 10 replacement Chromebooks in November of 2020 and are still waiting on them on now at the start of February 2021. Continue reading “Buying Chromebooks next year? ORDER NOW!”

Social Media – Cautionary tales

Before I get into the meat of this story I just want to say that I am not condoning any action taken by any party. This is not the point of this post.

This post is just to talk about how anything that is posted online is not private, does not truly delete itself and can be easily copied and shared at a later date. Be careful! Continue reading “Social Media – Cautionary tales”

Royalty Free Images – Where to find them

If you are still using the old “copy and paste” method from random websites to add images to your blog, worksheets or websites then you should stop. It’s probably a violation of copyright but there are better and more legal ways.

People are paying more attention to where photos come from and what they are being used for. Basically, if you have done the old copy and paste you may have committed a copyright violation. đŸ˜¦ You can always try and ask for permission but those requests usually go ignored.

A problem before was where do you find these images? Where can you go to safely and confidently know that you are downloading an image that is safe to use?

You can always sign up for an image repository website like stockphoto.com, gettyimages.com or shutterstock.com. These sites have millions of photos and you can either purchase them individually or sign up for a subscription and just download away, but if you’re a teacher and are just looking for something fun to drop in the corner of a worksheet this seems a little over the top. Not to mention these sites can get expensive fast.

Luckily, there are sites out there that can help you with this little predicament. These sites offer royalty free images that are also free to download and use. As always be sure to check each individual photo for its licenses or restrictions. Some may allow for download and use but won’t let you modify it, some may let you do whatever you want to it but require attribution. At any rate, here are four sites that I like to use.

morguefile.com

Pretty straightforward here. Just type what you’re looking for and a bunch of images will appear! I find the images here to be a little more amateur, but that is nice sometimes and you can also find some odd ones as well. Like searching for cell phone.

https://morguefile.com/

pixabay.com

This site has a lot more professional looking images but they feel much more sterile and stock. Again, this could be perfect for your needs. Just like morguefile.com this has tons of photos, just search. When you click on an image you can see its license on the right hand side.

https://pixabay.com/

unsplash.com

Great photos period! This is one I found a few weeks ago and really like. Loads of photos, great quality. I didn’t find any license info but what it does have is some meta data. Kind of neat if you’re into photography.

https://unsplash.com/

pexels.com

Finally there is pexels. Great photos and some real fun ones too. They do feel a bit more generic and stock than morguefiles and pixabay but hey having choices is always a nice thing. They even have some video.

https://www.pexels.com/

Chromebook + Wacom tablet? Interesting

I am quite interested in this. I have seen some Chromebooks with touchscreens and even a few of those may have a stylus, but the quality of those Chromebooks may leave a little something to be desired.

Then I saw this article in Engadget that says Wacom now has a drawing tablet that works with Chromebooks – no drivers or software installation needed! If you’re not familiar with Wacom, they make some of the best drawing tablets in the world. They also have some entry level tablets too which is where the One by Wacom (lousy name) comes into play. Continue reading “Chromebook + Wacom tablet? Interesting”

Mote – Chrome Extension review

OK, it’s a weird name but it has a pretty cool function.

This is an extension you can add to Chrome and use on a variety of Google products to leave audio comments. If you mark up an essay or digital document, all too often students will just take a look at the score at the top of the first page and maybe leaf through the rest of their work and then stuff it in a folder, trashcan, or some other dark region never to give it another thought.

This is obviously a problem as feedback is a pretty crucial part of the teaching-learning process. mote allows you to record audio feedback and add it to Any type of Google document (Docs, Sheets, Slides) and it also allows you to add comments on Google Classroom as well. Continue reading “Mote – Chrome Extension review”

ChronoFlo timeline maker – Review

To check out my sample timeline click this link.

https://www.chronoflotimeline.com/timeline/shared/4076/IT-Babble-Rocks/

I have to admit I am a sucker for a good timeline maker. Way back in 2011 Omar Ghosn (the co-founder) and myself decided to review a bunch of timeline generators to find the best one (at the time). You can find all those articles here.

Sadly many of those are no longer (RIP Dipity and TimeGlider) but now there is a new contender:

ChronoFlo Timeline Maker

This review will take a look at this new site and see if it is worth your time.

Continue reading “ChronoFlo timeline maker – Review”

YouTube – How to make a playlist

This is pretty easy and certainly not a new topic but YouTube does change a bit over time so I thought I would put together this hand dandy little guide (with beautiful pics) to help you out.

Keep in mind you must be logged into YouTube in order to create your own playlists to share with your students or to to keep for your own teaching (or personal enjoyment) needs.

Why make a playlist

If you’re big into lesson/unit planning this is a great way to organize these resources and have them on hand year after year. It’ll save you a bunch of time so you won’t be scrambling around for the last minute. I’ve perused YouTube plenty of times, stumbled across a great video that would assist my class and just dropped it into a playlist and keep on perusing.

Continue reading “YouTube – How to make a playlist”