The HipZip, made by Iomega, is without a doubt the best digital audio player in the world.

Not only does it run the Dadio Digital Audio OS (a modified version of Red Hat eCos), it supports the following audio formats:

What's more, the HipZip has the most amazing sound quality I've ever heard -- it sounds magnitudes better than my Soundblaster Live. This thing was definitely strongly optimized to be the best MP3 player ever, and it shows.

Yet another good thing about the HipZip (and the reason Iomega is behind it) is that it uses PocketZIP disks as its storage media. PocketZIP disks are cheap (about $10 a disk if you buy a pack of 10) and you can store up to 40 megs on a disk.

But it gets even better -- the HipZip can also be used as a standard PocketZIP drive on Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Not only can you store audio files on your disks, you can store any file on your disks, and no weird file transfer application is necessary -- the HipZip mounts itself as a removable drive via USB (and, coincidentally, doesn't even require a driver install under Windows 2000 -- just plug it in, and it works). Oh, and did I mention the built-in 12-hour lithium-ion rechargeable battery?

All in all, this is the best digital audio player for my money.

Okay, so it's years later and we have iPods now and nobody has heard of the HipZip. But it was still a kickass audio player in its day.