Small digital recorder - experiences?

Have any of you used a small digital recorder that you are happy with? I need something fits into pocket nicely, records hopefully MP3 or some other compact format that directly plays on a PC. Goal is to record voice initially, not necessarily music, although thats an interesting option. Mike input option would be nice.

Ever tried using iPod for this purpose? Or some MP3 player?

Key are play back quality and ergonomics and small and many hours per battery set.

I used one of these: to record therapy sessions for use in grad school presentations (I got written permission from my clients). It comes with software that allows you to download it to a PC (USB 2.0) in HQ .wav format or mp3, mono mp3, etc. I burned mine to a CD and presented in the TV/DVD-CD Player combo in the classroom. It sounded great!!! Best when I used the low sensitivity setting (Less background noise). Everyone else used portable cassette recorder/players that sounded pretty bad!!!! I looked like such a pro!!! =]

As far as playback on the unit itself, it would not work too well in a classroom setting as it would not be loud enough. It does have analog output (1/8 inch), so it could be plugged directly into something else for amplification.

I used disposable lithium AAA batteries and did not have to change them often.

Seems like I read a Michael Fremmer column a month or two (or three) ago where he talked about just such a thing.... Maybe someone else will remember what it was, or you can find it in the Stereophile archives...... He really liked it.

Mike Fremer was using an iPod for interviews at CES, I did not ask him what company made the add on device.
I have tried the creative muvo pendrive-mp3 player. For voice recording: very bad quality, you really need to be in a noise-free enviroment and put close the device to the speaker.
I think, the best is for this purpose the already outdated minidics thing. A bit more bulky, bur runs on AA batteries, and one can attach any microphone. Even with a fairly low priced mic, one could make a very good quality recording (voice).
I believe that the digital recorder Michael Fremer loved is made by Sound Devices. They make both a 2-channel and I believe a 4-channel. Both are relatively expensive - over 2 grand I think, and while portable, not exactly sized to slip into your pocket. Also, you would need external mics. They're made for professional field recording - mainly film and television sound production. Sony recently came out with a great all-in-one recorder that has decent built-in mics, but it's also pricey at @ $1800.00.

I just read that Griffin Technology is making a cute recording add-on for the i-pod. There are others too. In between, there are a few recorders aimed at the musician market - like Edirol and Zoom. They have some useful features and the option of recording (theoretically) better sounding files in addition to mp3.
In gathering audio for our Web site we've tried several options. We found the digital voice recorders like those from Olympus or the Sony that bdy000 describes to be not high-enough quality and not flexible enough.

We also used Sony and Sharp minidisc recorders and they work very well in terms of quality, portability and flexibility but have one major drawback. You can plug them directly into a PC but you have to play the file in real time to make a transfer, there's no drag-and-drop of the digital file. That's an anti-piracy measure imposed by Sony, the creater of the format, that cripples the device to some extent. Once you've got the file transferred it's very high quality, though.

What we've settled on is the Marantz PMD660. It does what you describe extremely well but it's definitely bigger than you'd like. It's $500 and bulletproof, uses Compact Flash cards and requires the use of external microphones.

As Gloomydan suggests, there are several external microphone options for the iPod from companies like Griffin, Belkin and XtremeMac. I don't have any experience with them but there's considerable information at ilounge.
Sorry, I forgot to add another option that we experimented with and that sounds closest to what you're describing.

We bought an Archos Jukebox Recorder 10 and almost everything about it worked well, USB interface, rechargeable AA batteries, external microphone jack, digital input and output and small size. The reason we switched to the minidisc recorders is that the interface for creating and managing the files on the Archos was a little too complicated to be able to put it into the hands of a reporter or photographer who didn't use it often and trust that they'd actually come back with something. That wouldn't be a problem if you used it a lot.

I'm not familiar with the current Archos models but the Recorder 10 and 20 machines are always for sale on ebay and at the prices they go for they're probably worth trying, even if you end up using them only as a USB back-up drive. There are probably other mp3 players out there with similar capabilities, I've heard the iRiver players recommended as recorders.