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I have one, and It's a 40 gb, and It's very sterdy..and has lasted me a year now and counting.
Unlike the ipod, the headphones don't go out after you hit them around a lot. (This is from having my brother's for a year)
And I always take this with me everywhere, and It hasn't failed me yet.
It also has a radio, and an external mic.
Of course you can get smaller capticities.
But I do highly reccomend it.
Entempo Spirit 20. Be warned though, my hard drive gave out two weeks in, not Entempo's fault, but Hitachi Travelstars have a low failure rate and my drive was a lemon. Nobody else had that problem so I guess Hitachi just gave it to me in the bum. When the drive worked the player was on par with the iPod, including the interface, which is quite rare.
Havent had any complaints about my Rave player... except the earbuds are uncomfortable... and cant fit all that I want on it... course even if it was 400 gigs I'd prolly not have enough room.. but yeah the rave players are good.. i got a Rave ARC 2.5..
I'm gonna second the Iriver statement. I've got a 256 meg Iriver (not quite in the league of the "I have EVERYSONG EVER RECORDED on my mp3 player). I use it for my running. Very nice, easy to navigate, sturdy, full featured and generally well thought out.
The iRiver looks cool, but it looks like it's pretty expensive. The 6GB iRiver is $279 on iriver.com, but the 20GB iPod is only $299. If you're going to spend $300 you might as well get a 20GB iPod or 20-30GB Zen.
I know you said besides the iPod, however, I really beleive that this is the best value in mp3 players on the market right now. A 30 gig color-screen iPod, for $313.49 (you have to add it to your cart the view the price). That's $14.49 more than the new 20 gig, and you get 150% the memory. But it won't last long; the 30 gig has gone out of production.