I ended up restoring the iAudio firmware. The RockBox software is too new and buggy to be reliable at the moment (it's still in developmen). I'll check back with them in a few months to see if the situation improves (it does feel nice to have options again, though). The native software is not gapless, but it is a very small gap, a bit of an improvement over the Creative and much less intrusive than the iPod, which specialized in making gaps between tracks interminable. In the meantime, while the player itself is new, I can say the following about it:
- It is shockingly easy to load files onto and off of.
- It sounds phenomenal. I haven't heard a portable mp3 player sound this good. It sounds better than the Creative. For an mp3 player, that's really saying something.
- It has a control stick with a screen on it. It is almost identical to the iRiver's. I love having the ability to have complete control over the device without taking it out of my pocket.
- It is a little thicker than the iPod, but of comparable size and weight. The screen isn't as big, but I never use video content anyway, so that is immaterial to me.
- Another similarity to the iRiver is the fact that it is a file tree management system - the iAudio shows up as another drive on the computer, so I can rip CDs directly to it or transfer directly from the Creative (which I still use as a portable hard drive) and use my preferred id3 tag editor.
This picture gives you a good idea of the scale of the thing.
Now, as I said, this is new. I don't know how durable it is (although it is definitely a sturdy build, and the control stick means less wear and tear on the device proper), so I can't say for certain "The iPod is dead, long live the iAudio," but I will say that you definitely get much, much more value for your money with the iAudio. Hopefully I'll never have to use iTunes again.