I've been wanting an iPod since they were first invented, but various factors prevented me from getting one. At first, it was the small capacity (my music collection is around 40GB. That's what happens when you've been buying CDs for over 15 years and rip them all into your computer.) Then it was the high price for the models large enough. Then (after figuring out how to load a random subset of music into it) it was indecision over what model to buy.
Well, fate made the decision for me this month. Earlier this year, Exabyte (makers of tape drives) ran a "VXA Saved The Day" promotion. You were asked to send in your stories about how their tape drive averted disaster. I told them about how an aberrant disk utility trashed my Mac's hard drive, and how I was able to recover in a few hours thanks to a full system backup on my Exabyte VXA-1 tape drive.Well, they liked my story and I won an iPod mini (silver color). It arrived in the mail yesterday, and I'm enjoying it quite a bit. This is the previous generation mini, which means a shorter battery life (8 hours instead of 18), but with more bundled accessories. Mine came with both USB and FireWire cables, and an AC adapter. (The current model only includes a USB cable.)
I spent a few hours last night hand-picking songs to load into it (in the future, I'll set up iTunes to load stuff randomly, but right now, it's a new toy and I'm playing with it.) A simple audio cable to connect it to the car stereo, and I'm all set to take a road trip without bringing along a box of CDs.
I also noticed a feature in it that I requested from Apple a few years ago, and that hasn't gotten much publicity. The iPod supports a sleep timer. You can configure it to play for a fixed amount of time (15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hours, or 2 hours), after which it will turn itself off. Which means I can attach it to the stereo in my bedroom and have it play me to sleep.
At this point, the only question I have (which I'm sure will be answered soon) is how long the batteries will really last on a charge. Apple says that this model will run for up to 8 hours on a charge. Hopefully, they will be right.