A good standalone recorder, imho, would be sufficient... 320kbps 192kHz 24-bit quality recording is probably rather overkill for our purposes, which is merely to give a decent, audible idea of what the HDDs roughly sound like and compare them inter se. 192kbps 44.1kHz MP3 would be great, I think.
Unfortunately, from what I could dig up, it seems that portable recording devices (with direct interface and transfer capability to PC) are generally split into either voice recorders or (expensive) professional portable recorders. The voice recorders - Sony is probably as good a choice as any other - are simple and fairly inexpensive; however, the majority of these devices only have a decent frequency response around the 60-3500Hz region (human voice) - not quite enough to catch especially the high-frequency whines of some HDDs. The higher end ones like Sony's ICD-MX20 are pretty good and can effectively cover 60-13500Hz, which should be sufficient for our purposes, but costs about USD250-300.
whiic, thanks for the info, it does make more sense with those factors in mind. I'm still debating between getting a 7K500 or hunting for a T7K500 - where I live there is only the former, but I was thinking of the T7K for its increased ruggedness (as far as shock is concerned anyway) inherent in a design with fewer platters. Guess it all balances out in the end
Now if only 7k1000 came in 500GB and replaced the 7K500 altogether (bringing in 7k1000's higher areal density, 32MB buffer, thermal fly height control and other technological improvements), I'd snap it up in a heartbeat!