Recorder, in my experience, is an instrument that is very easy to play decently, but incredibly difficult
to play well.
The quality, size, shape, and sound of recorders varies greatly. They range from the bass recorder (a massive, though lovely sounding tube that usually has keys for the last finger holes) to the sopranino (which is so high-pitched that one note from it and all dogs on the street will begin to howl.) Most people are familiar with the plastic, usually soprano kind they played in music class. These are cheap, only about $15 or $20, and are fun and easy to learn, great for beginners.
So, why play the recorder?
Now that you're convinced, what recorder should you buy?
DO NOT BUY A SOPRANINO. There is a much higher proportion of sopranino players in murder victims than to the rest of the population. Your neighbors will kill you. I'm serious.
Many people start out with a Yamaha plastic soprano (descant). These are great because they are fairly cheap, easy to finger and play, and there are plenty of method books for them. However, they can be somewhat shrill and annoying after awhile.
A plastic alto (or treble) is more expensive and harder to play, but it sounds so much better. If you are semi-serious, I'd reccomend one of these. Beginning alto books are harder to come by, but you can often use a flute book. Be aware that these are F instruments and are fingered some 5 steps down from a soprano.
Bass recorders require more air and are very hard to play. Avoid these for now.
You are not advanced enough for a sopranino. No one is.
If you are serious about this, a decent, mid-range wooden soprano is an excellent choice. Avoid Moeck, they are too expensive for what you get. DO NOT ORDER ONLINE. You need to sample them in real life. Wooden recorders all sound different. Experiment in the store with different woods. They all have a unique character.
Altos are a tremendous choice for the intermediate. Wood altos of the mid-range are about $300 or $400, significantly more expensive than a soprano, but much better too.
You may want to try a bass now. Stick with plastic, as wood basses are exceptionally expensive.
Please, please, please... Let's forget sopraninos even exist...
For the rest of the instruments, hand-made wooden ones, generally replicas of famous ones, can usually be counted on if from a well-known workshop. You are beyond me. Good luck.
How Do I Take Care of My Recorder?
For plastic ones, simply dry them out after playing.
Wood requires more attention. For the first two or three weeks, gradually increase time playing by five minute increments from 15 minutes a day, so that the wood is not overwhelmed with spit and cracks. Oil the inside of your instrument about every month to prevent cracking. Carefully dry after every practice and leave the case open for it to air out. Keep cork joints in good condition with wax. It sounds like a lot, I know, but it will keep your recorder playable for many, many years.
I hope you take up the recorder and find that it can be played as an instrument, not just tooted on in music class!
I have been notified that there is a recorder even higher than the sopranino. A garklein flötlein. A good alternative name would be the Reaper, as anyone who hears it must explode with great vigor.