ZOOM H2 Handy Recorder is an excellent out of the box recorder for going professional right away. It even does 2 channel and 4 channel stereo, also front and back 90 to 120 degrees. It does an excellent job and is well worth the money. The benefits are awesome.
If you want an inexpensive hand held recorder with lots of accessories this is the one for you. I can't say enough about it.