I have been the happy user of an Apple iPod 4th generation for a few years now. Aside from issues of hard drive failure, I was impressed most especially with the sleek design of the device, elegant in form and function, intuitive to navigate, and possible to control with one thumb often without looking. With the advent of the video iPod, the inevitable successor, Apple began falling into old, protectionist, sclerotic patterns. The formats which will play on the video iPod are limited only to Apple's proprietary format, supporting neither divx nor xvid, the most common formats for compressed digital video. Instead the video iPod owner was forced to convert their videos to Apple's format or even to rip their own DVDs. The Apple format is itself very low quality and conversion further destroys quality.
Last Christmas, while Apple was cashing in on $300 Video or Touch iPods and $2000 iPhones (inclusive of contract) I gave my partner a $150 refurbished Creative Zen M player. It is as good as new, for half the price of a video iPod. The Zen plays all the major video formats. I was really sold on it when a friend pointed out divx and xvid capability and the A/V converter cable available for $5 delivered. It allows one to watch video content from the Zen on a television in high quality. Creative further does not impose any inane software requirements to use their products, ie iTunes and the inexcusable Quicktime. For anyone interested in a portable media player, I strongly suggest considering Creative products.
Apple seems to have some major philosophical shortcomings: image over substance, dominance over compatibility. They have been guilty of this from the beginning. Though they are first to market with very nicely designed products, their greediness in trying to dominate their market and every file format that is used on their system or software that runs on their platform ultimately alienates users and erodes market share.
If you want an iPod, consider Creative: the interface is not as slick as Apple, but they are more functional and cheaper than the Apple version.