"Best Recorder For The Price, Hands Down!"5.0 starson by MusicGuru450
Pros: All the features of a desktop recording unit in a small package.
Excellent recording quality, and flexibility make it perfect for all but the most finicky of audiophiles.
Flexible microphone use allows for a large variety of venues and performances.
Cons: Bulky yet rugged.
Battery life seems a bit short.
Only a 1 gig SD card included.
Wind screen makes the unit look totally ugly.
Summary: I have personally tried out over half a dozen of the current crop of portable audio recorders and the H4n is the only one that I have kept. When you look at the flexible options you have with this unit you will see why. I can use the built in mics in either 2 or 4 channel (surround) mode or I can hook up my own external XLR or 1/4 inch mics to the Zoom and use those. I can even mix between the two built in and two external mics at the same time if need be. Plus on top of all that the H4n provides phantom power to any condenser mics that I might need to use and very few (if any) handheld units can make that claim. Another nice thing is that the XLR mics work with the H4n natively. There is no need for an adapter. The CNET review above seems to put a bit too much emphasis on the location of the mic mini jack. Honestly, how many people are going to use a mini-plug mic with a unit that has XLR capability? Show me a decent, full range mic that has a mini jack connector on it??? They don't exist (IMHO).
The convenience of the microphone jacks makes the whole unit a bit bulky, but when I am in my khakis and a dress shirt doing a rehearsal or an informal concert I can still carry it in my pants pocket if needed. The hard shell case that comes with it is a great little thing to have for that purpose though.
I may sound like a Zoom fanboy on this one, but I know what works for me as a professional musicians and conductor and for convenience as well as for sound quality. I can't be so boisterous about other Zoom products (like the laughable Q3 video/audio recorder), but the H4n has more of what I need and at a price point that makes sense. If you compare it head to head with all of the other major audio recording competitors (http://www.musicedmagic.com/audio-video/portable-digital-audio-recorder-buying-guide-with-reviews.html) you see that it does much more than the others for roughly the same amount of money. If Zoom could just improve the battery life a bit and splurge on a decent sized SD card the unit would be almost perfect in my opinion.