More people than ever are finding uses for portable digital audio recorders, as technology is making it possible to add more and more features while the cost continues to drop. I've personally been using the Zoom H4n for well over a year now, and I continue to find all kinds of new uses for it. Students, hobbyists, and professionals who work with sound and who require mobility can all benefit from such compact digital recorders. As a musician, a student, and a traveler, it fits in perfectly with my eccentric life style.
Being someone who studies and works with music and sound, and who always moves around, I've found a portable digital recorder to be a must-have. The various uses I've found for my own handy digital recorder include:
Recording song demos
Studying music online means that I often need to submit demos of the songs I've written. Same goes for networking with other musicians. As I'm always on the move, there's no way I can manage a traditional home studio, and booking time in local studios gets expensive. With my personal recorder, I can sit down with my guitar, and within minutes Il have an MP3 ready to turn in for my assignment or send to a partner for collaboration.
Recording sound effects
In sound production, it's nearly always preferable to record original sounds to pulling sometimes costly sounds from a sound library. I've used my Zoom H4n recorder to get sounds of rain, wind, rivers, beaches, animals, crowds, traffic, and much more.
Recording video sound
Often, the microphones that come in video cameras are a bit of an afterthought, and do not capture the ideal sound. A digital audio recorder can produce much better results, especially in the case of live musical performance. Also, when recording musical performances, the ideal camera location will not be the ideal location from where to record audio. Having the two units separate solves this problem.
Replacement for an internet calling headset
Now, it may not seem like too big of a deal that I can use the microphone on my recorder with a set of headphones to replace a 10 $ headset. I will say for anyone who travels often, they know that any space that they can save in their luggage is worth it's volume in gold. I use it not only for internet calling, but also for language learning programs that use speech recognition. Since it goes everywhere with me, I always have this ability available for my laptop.
This is really only the tip of the iceberg for what one can use a hand-held digital recorder for. The possible applications even for my Zoom H4n go far and above what I've laid out here. These are what I've personally found it to most useful for, and hopefully you can discover you own uses for a digital audio recorder.