About portable digital recorders:
There is a new machine out there that I would encourage anyone with the
budget to check out - the Sound Devices 722 and 744 portable recorders.
These are more serious recording devices, with price tags to match - the
722 lists for $2650, the 744 for $4250 (street prices slightly lower) - but
remember, when portable DAT recording first became available, the Sony D10
cost about $2500 in 1989 dollars... Sound Devices has been known for years
for their high-quality portable mic pre's, field mixers, and the like...
Also (FWIW) at a recent AES meeting in NYC, a couple of elder audio gurus
were discussing the Marantz PMD660 ($450), and seemed to think that the
built-in mic pre's were noticably substandard. Not sure if Marantz has
improved this with the PMD 670 ($700) or 671 ($1000).