If you are looking for a small mp3 player as a gift, I’d check into the Creative ZEN Stone Plus. I bought one for the Missus a couple of weeks ago, and this thing is great, especially when compared to the iPod Nano. For one thing, you can easily move files to and FROM this player easily–something that has always annoyed me about my iPod. Secondly, you can’t beat the price, which is less than $65, making it affordable enough that you could make a case for just buying a few of them and giving everybody the same thing. No way you can get anything with an Apple stamped on it for close to that. The third thing about this player that stands out when compared to the iPod is that it comes with a built in FM transmitter, which is really handy when you are on the go. Hop into your car and tune in to the right frequency and you are listening to the same thing that was just coming through your headphones without plugging anything else in.
There are some really nice accessories as well, including a wristband–the player is the size of a large watch face, and a keyring. Not to mention all of the skins and protectors you can buy.
There are also 4Gb, 8GB, and 16Gb video versions of this player, which is also much cheaper than their iPod counterparts, but I’m not interested in watching video that small, so I haven’t looked at them very closely. Another consideration when choosing a player that is video enables is that, if you are like me, you’ll drop it 100 times the first day you have it and crack the screen anyway. Just something to think about.
In short, if you are past the hype of the iPod and want a good player for a good price instead of a good player for an outrageous price, I’d recommend this one. I’ve had really good history with Creative’s ZEN players–this is the fourth one I’ve bought, and they’ve all performed really well.