I have to get a new MP3 player. For years I've been using a Sony Walkman after winning one at work. I used it every day to block out the cubicle sounds, especially the humming of the fans. (I have noise-blocking earbuds.) It saw frequent use it at the gym. I also used it when biking, so an external speaker is critical. Last week it got wet and despite my best efforts (I'm an Electrical Engineer) it did not survive.
I don't want to get an iPod because of their attitude towards slave labour. iTunes is also something I want to avoid because it's a closed format that doesn't work under Ubuntu.
Sony's... well, we all know what Sony's been up to lately. You also had to use Windows Media Player to make playlists — Rythmbox, Banshee, and other Ubuntu players couldn't create the propietary format. I could drag-and-drop music but that was it.
It seems like all the brick-and-mortar retailers carry are iPods and some junky low-end disposable models that barely passed quality control. I had to return a Polaroid player because it was unusable.
I've had bad luck with Archos products as well, with a battery on my Archos 7 dying after about 6 months. It doesn't have to be an all-singing, all-dancing pony. I want music. I don't have a cell phone, nor do I plan on spending several thousand dollars over the next three years to get an MP3-capable cell. In fact, because of the rules at work, it shouldn't have a camera in it. Nor will I be able to use any streaming audio features at work.
I've looked at the Anything but iPod website, but none of the players they recommend are available anymore. There are a few from Amazon retailers but few, if any, will ship outside of the US.
What players would you recommend? It's got to be something that's rugged enough to take a fall, has an external speaker for biking, and work under Ubuntu. Cost is a secondary concern, my main goal is to have a nice machine that does its job well.