Now comes the question of what shall replace it. There will need to be a replacement, I've become very attached to having my music portable and convenient. And give my investment in a good pile of iTunes downloads and my appreciation for the interface on iPod, I'm likely going with another. So that leaves me with three basic options.
#1: Buy an iPod now. The $299, 20 gig Color iPod would seem to be the choice; I've already got enough music to overfill a 6 Gig iPod now. The 60 Gig model is intruiging, but.. pricey. 20 Gig would be quite adequate, the 4th-Generation iPods are light enough and have good battery life now, the color screens, etc.
#2. Wait until the iPod refresh that seems likely in late September. There's an Apple Expo in Europe from September 20-24th, and likely then there will be some announcement on the iPod line. There are plentiful rumors of possibilities for the three iPod lines. The Shuffles might get a 1.5 or 2 Gig model (likely), a price break (very likely) or a screen (unlikely). The Minis might change to 5/8 or 6/8 gigs (likely) and gain a color screen (somewhat likely). And there's talk of a 5th-generation ipod with video playback (inevitable, but I don't think quite yet), FM radio built in (unlikely), Bluetooth (somewhat likely), or other features. Perhaps a move up on the base, $299 iPod up to 30 gig (likely). I put the odds at about 90% there'll be a better deal on some iPod, but one I want? More like 60% chance.
#3. Wait until said iPod refresh, and then see if Buran will sell me her 30 Gig iPod Photo- the one that was going for $349 - for a reasonable price when she upgrades. That's right about what I'd be looking for now, but Apple's noticed that on their standard iPods, the middle ones sell poorly. People either want the $299 model or the top-of-the-line, whatever that is. The 30 Gig would be nice, I think- but Buran's not going to sell it to me just yet.
So. Recommendations? Waiting is probably sensible.. but that's six weeks without a device that I've become horribly used to, and upgrades/discounts are not a guarantee. I could be waiting for nothing.
Anyone who wants to make this academic, well, I always like presents. -1-)