Most people buying an MP3 player as a gift are going to consider three things:When #1 is locked up ("Grandma, I want a 4GB iPod nano") then there's no problem (unless #3 is an issue). I was thinking about cases where #1 is either vague or non-existent. If all you know is that your niece wants one of those portable music players, then #2 and #3 will determine your purchase. I'm thinking more of cases where #1 isn't even known.
1. What the person asked for.
2. What they've heard of.
3. What they can afford.
For example. You have to buy something for your niece, but you have no idea what to get. Say, you've heard about those iPod thingys (#2). Well, you've heard all the kids seem to want one, so OK. Wow -- look at the price (#3)! At your favorite big-box retailer you find a no-name player that the clerk says is just as good as an iPod, and half the price. Another perfect gift! Or is it? That's the problem of a contextural gift.
As to Ken's concerns about iPod's hard drives -- that was a general statement. If you run, jog, mountain climb or do any other physical activity that regularly subjects a player (of any brand) to repeated shocks, it's best to go with one that uses embedded memory. Remember that hard drive players have a little spinning disc with a very small arm that has to track across it like the stereo LP players of olden time. While they're designed to handle occasional jarring, sustained impact could eventually misalign these moving parts and cause problems.
Orange plays again tonight. I think the second time they get flagged, the band should play Brittany Spears' "Oops, I Did It Again." Or maybe not.