For Christmas I bought myself a Zen Microphoto (well, technically I received it as present).

At first I was pretty happy with it, but things went awry.  Four things specifically.

First, the Microphoto touch controls were useless.  And I mean useless. I just couldn't get the infernal thing to do want I wanted - a simple operation like pausing a song became, consistently, a traumatic ordeal.  I beared with this for the first few days convinced I would learn to use it, but alas...Second, the system would regularly (like 1 in 5) freeze on boot up requiring the battery to be pulled out to get the thing going again.  Third, the 'off' switch would frequently (1 in 2) not actually switch the thing off.  Fourth and not least, the battery cover just wouldn't come away without exerting excruciating forces, which I had to employ regularly.  All in all, the physical design made the cute looking thing simply unusable. I can't remember swearing so much at an inanimate device.

So yesterday I headed back to the replace the disaster with a different model. I looked at the iRiver again, but settled for the Zen Sleek. Risky, but this time I got a chance to play with the player before buying. The downside: the Sleek is about $50 more expensive than the Microphoto, it is also a bit bigger and heavier (3.8oz with battery vs. 5.8 oz with battery), doesn't do the photos and the display is LCD not OLED (the photo side is no loss for me here).

The updside: It works. And I've now got a bounteous 20GB of storage instead of an ample 8GB so the whole of my music collection fits (in about 11 gigs) fits leaving 9 other gigs as hard drive storage.  The physical UI works very nicely (thankfully), the software works well too. Like the Microphoto it has FM radio, FM recorder and voice recorder, but with 3 hours more battery life (18 hours instead of 15). Plugged it into the XBox 360, it worked straight off.

So far, so good...