First of all, let me say that I have LOVED this mp3 player. I've had it for over 2 years now and it still works great. I've only ever had to reset it twice. For it's time, the price vs storage size ratio for this was light years ahead of Apple. Forty gigabytes for the $200 price is still pretty hard to come by today, let alone two years ago. The only huge downside I can name for this product is the size. Compared to all the newer models (all companies), this one is simply HUGE, being 3 inches by 4.4. I still was able to hold it in my hand, however, and took it to the gym constantly. I always justified that at least it would be harder to lose. :P Unfortunately, due to the constant MP3 player arms-race, this exact model has become much harder to find. In that regard, this may be more justified as a review for creativelabs mp3 players versus iPods.
I haven't personally owned an iPod, but I've had ample experience with them nontheless by checking out my roommate's and girlfriend's.
These creative players are tough and durable, plus have an exceptional battery life that lasts over 12 hours. The menu system is different from an iPod's, some might say more cumbersome, but having used it from the start I find myself able to navigate it as fast as anyone else. The one area that I was exceptionally happy with in comparison to Apple products was the additional software. The Zen Jukebox audio transfer software is so much simpler, space-saving, and less demanding and abusive than iTunes. You can literally just drag and drop music files from one side of the screen to another and boom - done. It doesn't try to either move all your music files or make a complete second copy of them on your computer. Creative is also constantly working on an array of accessories to match anyone's lifestyle demands.
I highly recommend you try out any of their products - they try much harder to make you satisfied that Apple, which could care less because they've got hype.