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iRiver T30 1GB digital music player

Flash player perfection?

Review Despite it's higher model number, the T30 actually sits between iRiver's T10 and T20 players (reviewed here and here). Like the T20, it's intended to be a compact fashion statement, but with space for a AAA battery, it's designed to offer a very long play duration, as per the T10.

iRiver T30 MP3 playerFeatures-wise, the T30 is more akin to the T20. It's got voice and line-in recording, with the latter's microphone-jack socket placed right alongside the earphone socket - make sure you use the right one. Nearby is a bung-covered mini USB port and the obligatory necklace connector. The USB cover is attached to the player so you shouldn't lose it.

The T30 is roughly triangular in cross-section - the corners are well rounded - with the display the key feature of its face, next to the voice microphone. Above and below it, on two of said corners, are the controls. They're the same Menu, volume up and down, and Play/Stop and track skip controls as the T20 sports, but here they're sensibly rounded off and raised above the casing, making them far easier to use, particularly if you're reaching in to your jacket pocket to do so.

The rear corner slides off to reveal the AAA battery bay, alongside of which as the Hold slider, again textured to make it easy to use by touch. A single AAA alkaline battery won't give you as much play time as the T10's AA cell, but it's still enough for 20 hours' playback, says iRiver - six hours more than the T20's rechargeable power source can provide.

Like its two stable-mates, the T30 comes in 512MB and 1GB versions - I tested the latter - though here they're respectively "lawn green" and "rose red" in colour. Both, likewise, offer nine EQ pre-sets, a custom equaliser control and SRS sound enhancement. Again, enabling any of these will eat into the player's battery life thanks to the extra processing power they require. Their benefits are entirely subjective, so I left them off during testing.

The T30 provides the sound quality that its stable-mates do, and on that score I have no complaints. Like the other models, it'll pump out the volume for noisy environments. Just watch those ear-drums, OK? The player can handle MP3, Ogg, and DRM and non-DRM WMA files. Again, it communicates with a host PC using Microsoft's Media Transfer Protocol, so it doesn't appear to Windows XP as a USB mass-storage device. Unsurprisingly, Mac OS X couldn't see it at all.

iRiver T30 MP3 playerThe T30 isn't as attractive as the T10, but better looking than the T20. That's perhaps the key hurdle iRiver needs to leap: all other things being equal, its players don't look as good as Creative's and certainly not Apple's.

Verdict

Of the three iRiver Flash-based players I've been looking at over the past week or so, the T30 is my favourite. It's smaller yet more feature-filled than the T10, but not so small as to be a pain to use on my daily bus ride into work, which was certainly the case with the T20. It's also cheaper, since you're not paying for the smart USB connector on the latter model, or the T10's unnecessary colour display. ®

 

iRiver T30
 
Rating 90%
 
Pros Good sound quality; uses standard AAA batteries; easy to use 'blind'
 
Cons There are better looking players out there.
 
Price £65 (512MB), £99 (1GB)
 
More info The iRiver T30 site

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