Does he know that he's getting an mp3 player for Christmas? Maybe if you had some input from him, it would help. It seems everyone wants an iPod, so that would be a safe choice. How much music does he have or potentially have, if he's sharing music with you?
If you want to go for capacity, go for the SanDisk. It is a great deal. I don't think that video on that small of a screen is watchable for more than a few minutes, so I wouldn't even consider that a factor.
It is more versatile than the iPod. It has an fm tuner and a user replaceable rechargeable lithium ion battery. When the battery eventually dies (loses its ability to hold a charge - all eventually will die) you can just buy a new one. All ipod models lack an fm tuner and when the battery dies you can either try to replace it yourself (the newer models don't look very easy to pry apart) or pay Apple $66 to replace the unit with a new or refurbished model and more than likely it will be refurbished.
It supports subcription services, such as Rhapsody and you can purchase downloadable content from more than one store. I don't have a SanDisk, but I imagine it should be pretty easy to load music onto it. I'm sure your son could figure it out. With the iPod, you're stuck with iTunes and no subscription services.
I'm not an iPod hater. In fact, I own several. And I like them very much. I just like to point out what it lacks so that people go in knowing this - to avoid disappointments. With that said, if your son thinks the iPod Nano is so cool that he's willing to give up capacity and features then you should by him that.
I want to buy an mp3 for my 11 year old son for Christmas.
I found Sandisk 8GB (e280) @ Walmart for $188. The bonus
is the video where my budget for an ipod would only allow
a 2 or 4 GB nano. The write ups on cnet for the sandisk
(this one and the Rhapsody) sound great but should I go ahead
and get the regular e280 for $188, get him a nano without
video or let him put $ toward the ipod w/ video? how easy is
it to get music for the sandisk? Thanks for your help.