When a friend turned me onto Zoom's H2 stereo/four channel digital recorder ($200), my first impression was that it looked like a man's electric shaver. It's not just for musicians, students can record seminars and conferences. I think it'll come in handy when I'm doing interviews.
The H2's selectable recording quality runs from 64-320 Kbps MP3 up to much better than CD quality, 24 bit/96 KHz linear PCM (WAV files). Four-channel, 360-degree surround recordings can be made in 24 bit/48 kHz format with the H2's two sets of built-in microphones--or for even better sound, you can plug in an external mic. After recording, the built-in 3D panning function gives you full control over the front/rear/left/right balance. How cool is that?
Considering its palm-size dimensions, the H2's connectivity quotient is amazing: you get min-jack phone/line level output, external mic input, line level input and a USB port. The H2 works on two AA batteries or with the included AC power supply. It records to an SD card and works with 4GB SD HC cards that allow the longest recording times (377 minutes at CD resolution). A clear, backlit display features recording levels, time code, filename and remaining battery life.
I brought the H2 to a street fair and recorded full-tilt boogie blues bands and acoustic musicians. The other day I recorded full-tilt jackhammers tearing up the Brooklyn streets outside my window. At home I used the H2 to record percussion instruments and voice and was consistently impressed with the little thing's sound quality. Best of all, it's very easy to use. Highly recommended!