Taking a look at the front you have a large record button which not only is used for recording but as a confirm button for when deleting files or formatting the memory card.
The screen, which is quite reflective, shows the input volume on the left with both left/right signal strengths, a battery level indicator, the recording format/quality and the amount of recording time available.
On one side you have the line out/head phone jack and volume controls and on the other side you have the USB/power port, power/hold switch, delete button, play back / mark controls, input level button and line / microphone in.
The hold switch is very useful to prevent unwanted button presses when the recorder is in your pocket. You can add track marks to your recording by pressing the play/pause button (note this can only be set in WAV format). If a file has marks you can press the forward and rewind buttons during playback to jump to mark positions. Although you can use the X/Y mic you can also plug in an external mic such as a clip on mic should you have the recorder in your pocket.
Recording is very simple - pressing the record button once to start and again to stop and there is an LED flashing light showing that it is picking up an audio source.
On the bottom there is a single speaker which serves useful for impromtu playback needs altough using some ear buds or headphones provides a much better indicator for assessing recording volumes and better playback.
The recorder takes a single AA battery which is claimed to be good for 10 hours of recording. Alhough this was not exactly timed a number of hours was spent recording many videos and the battery is still at a full level.
The tests we performed on the recorder included MP3 at 320 kbps versus WAV at 48k / 16 bit as these are the best MP3 and lowest WAV options - results here (WAV) (MP3)
and a comparison of how the recorder faired with wind noise using a fan that was blowing, on lowest setting, about 3 feet from the microphone. We did a test using the wind condenser accessory, the X/Y mic on the Zoom H1 and using an external clip on Sony mic. We also tried flipping Lo Cut on and off to see if there was any difference. These results can be heard here (condenser)
, (X/Y Mic)
and (external mic)
. Apologies if some audio is cut off due to our web page file restriction but it should give you an insight.
Firstly, we could not discern any major difference in audio quality between the high quality MP3 and low quality WAV and this nets an extra 10 hours 50 mins of memory card space using the MP3. This was using external clip on mic, so perhaps using the X/Y mic may make a difference or even if music was being recorded.
As for the wind noise test the wind condensor accessory did a good job of cutting out the wind noise when compared to the X/Y mic alone. Using the Lo Cut switch made no difference at all. Switching to an external mic was even better and that would be our suggestion if you are recording your own voice. Doing an interview we would use the condensor.
We didn't do a test on the automatic input option, we left it to manual and adjusted according to the reaction of the input volume bars on the front screen. We aimed for a mid-way reading which would allow for spikes and troughs. This option may be useful when the input volume varies, perhaps doing an interview out doors.
The H1 Zoom is supposed to come with some free bundled software: Steinburg Cubase LE and Wavelab LE. Unfortunately we were not able to get it to work. You are asked to install some key manager software but the link that takes you to the download page is invalid. This is disappointing if this is one reason why you bought it in the first place. It even says on the Zoom H1 webpage that the software is free to use.