The simplest solution - recording using a laptop is a subject to recording software issues, hard drive failures from vibrations, sound card hang-ups and what not.
At some point I've also tried small iRiver mp3 player/recorder. However, it's memory size allowed to only record couple of hours of mp3, not enough to record whole evenings and not really the best quality. Also, if battery would run out dry during recording, it sometimes caused recorded files to turn up empty.
I've been looking at Edirol R-09 for years, as it seemed that this was a defacto recorder for professional use. One of my concerns was that it is really old model and some other devices could probably have better features for the price. Last November I decided to make myself an early Christmas present and pick a recorder that would solve the recording issue once and for all.