I've been using minidisc players for the last decade. Since that technology is as good as dead, and so will by my last player soon, I'm in the market for the latest and greatest portable music player with at least the same functionality as md.
- records form line in/mic in to wav/mp3
- built-in mics is abonus but not required
- plays wav/mp3 to headphone/line out
- decent uncoloured output stage
- removable storage like SDHC cards or else huge capaicty like 500G
- it has to remember last play position after power off
- battery life of at least 20/30 hours on one set/charge
- hold function
- portable, eg max 60*10*20mm or so
- actual harware buttons is a bonus
- bookmark function is bonus as well
- I'm willing to pay a lot for something great as I use the device like an hour a day
So far I tried the Tascam DR08 and Roland R05, and while close to what I'm after they didn't gave me that 'wow what a fantastic device' feeling I got from my md players. Tascam felt a bit cheap but sound quality was good. Doesn't remember play position (likely because it's mainly a recorder and not a player). The R05 feels and looks much more sturdy, but the playback sound quality was lacking (too much high mid, not much low end) and also does not remember play position. Menu organization was not all that either.. Recording quality on both of them was pretty awesome for such small devices though.
update two days ago I found a PCM-M10 for only 190euros which is a gooe deal here in Europe. And it was love at first use:
- coming from a one-line MD screen the display is outstanding, and the ui is very responsive (not so much on DR08 and R05). I have no problem with the menu structure at all, nor with the folder structure
- build is solid, buttons are solid, placement needs some getting used to (well, after 2 walks of an hour I could already play/pause/forward/volume without getting it out of my pocket so no complaints there. Try that with a touch device :]) Only con so far: the device is not exactly small, it's like today's smartphones but twice as thick. I can live with that though.
- recording quality is really, really good for a device most would not consider 'pro' and with not a huge price tag. Only tried with the built-in mics, which pick up everything in a good way. Line-in is also very good. Pretty sure it beats any of th MD devices I owned.
- then for the most important matter as I'm going to use it as a player 90% of the time: playback sound quality is simply outstanding. Again better than any MD I owned, and I'd even say it comes close to audiophile players like HM-801 (only one I heard in those regions, but costs 3 or 4 times more and does not record)