The Sony PCM-D50 portable audio recorder just hit my desk (look for a full review next week) and I can't get over how cool this thing looks. To my surprise, Sony included the optional microphone windscreen with the loaner I received, which makes the whole thing look like taser shoved into a Tribble.
To fully realize Sony's little audio creature, I screwed it onto my camera tripod and created what is easily the weirdest thing ever to grace my desk (no offense, Little Professor).
On a serious note, I get asked about high-end portable audio recorders a lot. Consumer MP3 players/voice recorders just can't hack it when it comes to recording podcasts, bootlegging concerts, or capturing the wonder of nature's symphony (i.e. field recording). So far, the Sony PCM-D50 is looking like the best designed, best constructed portable audio recorder I've laid hands on--better than the M-Audio Microtrack, Edirol R-9, Zoom H2, or Korg MR-1. I've yet to hear this fuzzy wonder or give it some real world testing, but with 12 hours of rated battery life, WAV recording up to 24-bit/96kHz, optical line-in and line-out jacks, articulated built-in microphones, and on-screen editing functions,the Sony PCM-D50 is looking pretty fine.
Off the bat, however, I can tell I'm not going to like the measly 4GB of internal memory and proprietary Sony Memory Stick expansion. Who knows? Maybe now that Sony has seen the light with their MP3 players, they'll get on-board with SDHC flash memory cards too. Yeah...I won't hold my breath.