Too bad you couldn't get it working. But it may just be easier and relieve the headache to try a different model/player.
A hard drive player will break eventually, it's mechanical and it's a matter of time before it fails. That said a flash memory based player has a limited number of read/write cycles before it fails too.
Before you make a decision on which player go to a site like amazon.com or a specialized mp3 player review site and read the reviews of players and pay attention to which ones seem to play better with Vista.
Also some encouragement. I'm running Vista and have plugged in many storage and media players and have not had any issues, other than Windows Media Player wants to sync with everything I plug in. Kind of the opposite of your situation.