I've had an Archos MP3 Player for awhile. Very simple - USB harddrive with a DSP bolted on to play MP3. No proprietary music software, no digital restrictions management, just an MP3 hard drive.
But the UI in the firmware is crummy. Enter RockBox, an open source firmware that was built by hacking the Archos. Works great: better UI, better music buffering for skip protection and battery life, and I think it even sounds better. iPod owners - it may be great design, but you'll never be able to hack it.
Hardware companies should encourage this kind of thing.