While the once lush forrest of MP3 players is now a bone-filled, arid desert, there are still a few survivors. One of these hearty few is SanDisk with their Clip series.
You'd forget you were wearing it if you didn't have earbuds in, so it's a fantastic running or gym player. A lot of bells and whistles for something so small, including a stopwatch (with lap timer). Also: FM radio, voice recorder, microSD expandable storage, and it plays all of the major audio formats. Easy to drag music onto it via the Mini USB port. Decent sound (if you have some decent earbuds). Excellent battery life. Cheeeeap.
If you shake the Sansa Zip, something rattles a little inside. This probably shouldn't happen. When you're running, the small (1.1 inch) low-res screen is very hard to read, and it's quite dim which makes it pretty bad in bright sunlight. Not waterproof/sweat-proof. (Why not? It should be.) Its tiny processor is pretty wimpy—tinkering with the stopwatch while listening to music caused my track to skip. (Right in the middle of Busta's flow. You do not do that!).
SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip
Price: $50/4GB $70/8GB
If you don't mind using your phone, then don't bother. The 8GB one doesn't make much sense to me: just get the 4GB model and grab a cheapo micro SD card so you can put more music on there. Having a dedicated music player for working out is not a terrible idea, and the Clip Zip's light weight, cheap factor and other features make it a pretty decent one.
You can keep up with Brent Rose, the author of this post, on Google+ or Twitter.