Yeah, I saw a couple of "voice" recorders that turn out really bad quality recordings
(seems a little pointless to buy something to record a class or meeting and then be UNABLE to hear the content of said meeting because of the bad quality)...although you're right, they were really cheap, maybe around $20, although I've seen one offered for $10 (admittedly it was an unnamed brand).
I've heard that Sony is probably the best brand to go with for a recorder? I've been to a couple of shops but most of the staff are high school kids who tend to go "huh?" or "I dunno" when asked any questions, so I haven't been able to get any idea as to which models or brands have the "listen as you record" function.
I'm also worried about the quality, because even though some recorders claim to have 192k recordings, the result isn't much better than those $20 ones. Short of trying one out (which most stores won't let me do), I really don't have a clue how to deal with that
But thanks for the help! I've now got a better idea what to keep an eye out for.