I've long been a critic of Apple's seemingly ubiquitous iPods. They are flashy, trendy, and uber-hip, but they are also over-priced, under-featured, and never the best deal on the market.
Don't believe me? See THIS as an example. Sansa is making an 8GB flash player that kicks the iPod Shuffle's butt. The Sansa has an FM tuner, a screen (!!!), more memory, doesn't stick you with iTunes, and only costs a bit more. It's a no-brainer decision, unless you're a Kool-Aid drinking Apple fan-boi.
I've had a Sansa e280 for a couple years now and I love it. The e280 is meant to go up against the iPod nano (older models), and it beats those in every category. It has more features, a better price, and freedom from the proprietary Apple Universe. My detailed review of the e280 is HERE.
Here's another article I wrote on Reasons Not To Buy An iPod.