This is just my personal opinion: I wanted to get my wife a portable MP3 player for her birthday - she enjoys downloading free MP3s (mostly talks people give, etc.) from the internet. We went out and bought a Sony Network Walkman NW-E95 today only to discover that while it works beautifully for transferring music from an audio CD collection it seems to be (again this is just my opinion) purposefully crippled for playing arbitrary MP3 files. There is a lot of great free content on the internet in MP3 format and I think that Sony made a really bad decision to not support a wide variety of MP3 formats. I found a web blog where someone suggested taking MP3 files and using them to create audio CDs - then load these CDRs to the Sony Network Walkman NW-E95; this is more trouble than my wife wants to go to listen to audio lectures (she has little interest in listening to music on a portable player). BTW, we live in a very small town, so we have to drive 25 miles to get to an electronics store - so, returning this device will be an additional hassle. This is also why we did not go to the store, write down product names, and go home first to research the available players on the web.
I bought a Sony Portable Playstation several months ago - love that. Sony gets somethings right, at least.