If you’re not looking to take you entire CD collection on your trip, then the ultra compact iriver T30 MP3 player should work for you.
The T30 is part of iriver’s ultra portable line of media players, available in 512MB and 1GB versions. In addition, it has the ability to record as well as play, handy if you wanted to use it to make podcasts during your journey. The built in mike makes decent (but not stellar) recordings, or you can plug in an external mike for better quality. Other iriver models can also record directly from the radio.
The T30 very simple to use. To upload music, plug it into your computer with the supplied USB cable. It shows up as a device under My Computer. Then drag files in the WMP window into your sync folder and click sync. Done. To transfer 61 songs (312MB) took just 5 minutes.
The small size of the device and the control layout make it easier to operate with both hands, since it’s too small to be able to hold and work the buttons with one hand. You mainly use the play/stop button and the ffd/rwd buttons to navigate the menus.
Be careful not to toss the T30 in your jeans pocket; the buttons are easy to hit; when I did this, I found myself suddenly listening to the next song or nothing at all. More annoying is that if the mode button is pressed a couple of times, you find yourself listening to a looping segment of the song sometimes as short as a couple of seconds.