Honestly (and I know I keep mentioning this), the Rockbox firmware transforms the player completely, to the point that it deems any issues with the earlier firmwares obsolete (although it does have a learning curve as far as navigation). I think the current firmware is also much, much more user friendly, but it's debatable whether it actually sounds better than the earlier ones (despite the usage issues, I felt 1.2.2 and 1.2.5 sounded better than the current one...again, none of them compare to Rockbox in terms of soundstage and overall neutrality. 1.2.2 and 1.2.5 are more colored than 1.2.8, but 1.2.8 sounds soulless to me sometimes. Hard to explain. Moderately neutral, yet unsatisfying). So anyone basing their opinions without trying the latest firmware (at the very least), don't pay their impressions any mind. For $250-ish, you're not going to find a more versatile and better sounding player. And I drag mine with me everywhere, have left it in the car in sweltering heat and I have yet to buy a case for it, so it can take a decent beating too.