I recommend mp3 players. Within two years, i've gone through three ipods, (but thats only because im a hardcore listener).
The thing with ipods is they're expensive to replace and do not repair easily as there is no way of getting inside them. Once you have an internal problem with your ipod, you cant fix it, and ipods generally have problems with their hard drives anyway. Two out of the three ipods I had failed me because of the hard drive. and although they're generally more attractive, they're not worth it. Once you have an ipod, you cant go back to mp3's because its a lot of hassle uploading a whole library onto windows media player. so it's easier starting off with an mp3. They last longer, they're easier and cheaper to fix, they are just as attractive, AND you dont have to be tied down to one computer for uploading songs onto your ipod.
With ipods, the first computer you use to put songs on is the one your pod is registered to. So if you try to use another computer to download music onto, it deletes your whole library. However with mp3's you can do it from anywhere.
Also, there is a wider choice of mp3 players than ipods, so you're not limited to one type of thing. Dont get me wrong, ipods are really good when they work, but are soooo not worth the hassle when it comes down to it all. Dont be fooled by the ipods glossy finish. that's all i'm saying. If you're got some hard cash and a lot of patience, get the ipod.