All I can say is wow. I got this little portable recorder in the mail this week and I can finally say that I have a true DAT replacement. I got the Edirol/Roland R-09 awhile back and it's definitely small and portable, but feels cheap and I always struggled to get a good recording. Having owned the PCM-D50's big brother, the PCM-D1, for like 5 minutes (returned it because I really couldn't justify $2k on it ...) I was hoping the PCM-D50 would be close. The built-in mics in the PCM-D1 were really, really good (so were the pres). In some ways, the D50 is better than the D1. There are more output options (optical in and out, not just mic or line), there's an option for a limiter as well as a low cut filter (like on the R-09). Unlike traditional DAT recorders, some of the more modern portable recorders that use SD cards or some sort of flash memory have been a pain to use and sometimes counterintuitive. Not the D50. If you have to read the manual, you've never used a portable DAT recorder. It's just dead stupid to work and the controls I think are directly from the old SOny DAT decks. The D1 allowed you to adjust the levels separately for L and R, but the D50 is one big level knob adjusting both. The mic configuration is a bit different than the D1. With the D1 the mics were basically fixed but you could tilt them. With the D50 you can change the angle, but not tilt the mics. I gave the recorder a trial run last night at my band's practice using the built-in mics (and not my AT-825 stereo mic) and it sounds very close to the D1's output. I'm impressed. The build quality blows away all other recorders in the market at that price - it's basically the same housing as the D1 minus the VU meters. I haven't tested the rated battery life but in typical Sony fashion, the battery life is phenomenal. The D1 shipped with rechargeable AAs, the sleeve to put 4 batteries in the unit, and a spare so you could easy swap out if you ran out of juice. The D50 comes with regular AAs (the kind made in Japan which last longer) and just the one sleeve, but the cost is also much less here. Oh and the best part? 4GB of built-in memory plus you can also get Memory Sticks for additional storage/recording. To hook it up to a computer is easy - just stick a USB cable and it shows up like a drive. It works with both MAcs and PCs. You also don't get any kind of screen for the mics (the D1 comes with one). You can buy one. There's also an optional remote (not an option on the D1), tripod, and leather case (the case is Japan only I think; easily found on the 'bay). At $500 (I got mine for $440 with some coupon and had it preordered about 2 months ago), you can't go wrong. I would bypass all of the other options (M-Audio, Edirol, Zoom) and go straight for this one. It's nice to see Sony doing what they do - pioneering with a very cool piece like the D1 and then finding a way to make it mass market at an affordable price.