Zoom's $199 Solid-State Recorder
For Stereophile writers, the focus of interest at CES are the exhibits featuring high-performance audio (mostly in the Venetian). That's certainly true for me, but I have to admit to being intrigued by the many sorts of electronic gadgets and gizmos that are shown in the main exhibit halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo, so my visit to CES always excludes a brief tour of these venues. And, sometimes, in my wanderings through these halls I even find a product that is interest to audiophiles as well as gadget freaks. I found one such product at the Sands Expo: the Zoom H2 portable audio recorder.
This is a hand-held device that can be considered a successor to the classic Sony Walkman Pro (which I still own, but it needs repair). In keeping with the times, the H2 uses an SD card rather than a cassette as the recording medium, and can record MP3 or WAV files, at quality levels up to 24-bit/96kHz. The H2 has four built-in microphones, two in the front and two in the back, with differing polar response patterns, and records in stereo using either pair or both. The recording can be played back directly through headphones, or transferred to a computer through a USB connection. The Zoom H2 weighs just 110gm without batteries, and costs a mere $199—quite incredible, when you consider its capabilities. I was so taken with the H2 that I bought one, so my Walkman Pro will probably remain unrepaired.
The H2 is shown here by the lovely Sara Stokes. No mere "booth babe," Sara, in addition to being a model, is also a photographer herself, and she instantly identified my camera as being the same as the Canon 5D/24-105L IS that she uses. You can't judge people just by appearances.