Although they're often considered well designed and comprehensive, iRiver's digital music players can also be somewhat complicated. By the company's standards, the 512MB T30 is straightforward, both in appearance and operation. The big attractions for this streamlined version of the iRiver T10 is its support of subscription music downloads and its price. The 512MB version retails for around £70 online, and the 1GB version is available for around £95.
At 32 by 64 by 22mm and weighing 27g, the iRiver T30 is ideal for using in the gym. Slip it into a shirt pocket and you'll hardly notice it's there. The dull black and silver plastic case of our 512MB test model isn't particularly striking -- it's also available in green, and the 1GB version is more stunning in red -- and the player lacks the joystick controls found on other flash-based iRiver devices. But the T30's simplicity will appeal to MP3 novices.
The most common complaint regarding iRiver's players has been the abstruse, techie user interface. Operating the T30, however, is fairly straightforward: press and hold the Menu button to access the Browser (the music directory), the recording settings and the system settings. Some users, though, will still balk at having to decode the process of setting up shuffle/repeat modes.
The iRiver T30 plays MP3, OGG and DRM-protected WMA files, including those downloaded from subscription services such as Napster To Go and MSN Music. Although we had no trouble transferring Janus files using Napster and Windows Media Player, we experienced occasional dropouts during playback of those tracks. iRiver has just released some Janus-related firmware, however, which may address this problem.
Otherwise, the iRiver T30 is a pretty basic player. You get voice and line-in recording, though unlike the more advanced T10, it has no FM tuner. This seems rather odd, as an FM tuner seems like the more basic feature to have. The T30 also offers SRS effects, a five-band user-defined equaliser, and the ability to control playback speed.
Although the 90dB signal-to-noise ratio is the norm for this type of device, music sounds very good with a set of decent headphones. The included earbuds are above average, offering better-than-expected bass response, but they're slightly uncomfortable. At 18mW per channel, playback is easily loud enough with a pair of full-size headphones. In our tests, the iRiver T30 reached 21.67 hours of continuous playback on an AAA battery -- not bad, but short of iRiver's claims of 24 hours. The player managed an average transfer speed of 1.67MB per second over a USB 2.0 connection.
Edited by Jasmine France
Additional editing by Nick Hide