After researching for a little while I finally settled on the Patriot Extreme Performance Flash Drive: Xporter 2GB (item # PEF2G200USB).
I'm very glad I switched. I started flash portable life with a Sandisk Cruzer Mini 256MB, which was quite slow. Then I got the clever idea of using a SanDisk Standard SD Card 2GB in my Palm Treo 650 and then sharing it as my portable flash drive using the SanDisk MobileMate SD+ card reader. Well, it was a good idea (*sprains arm patting self on back*), but turned out to be mind-numbingly slow.
Enter the Patriot Xporter with it's industry leading 200X. (Leading for the next five minutes at least...) That's 32MB/s read, 26MB/s write. This thing is screamin! And the difference is greater than I expected.
The price is nice as well and there's a MIR available on the 2GB model for now. I bought mine at Newegg.com simply because I tend to buy everything there or nowhere at all, but I'm not plugging them in particular because there are many quality retailers around.
Also, the Patriot isn't even the current champion. Further, it's a bit on the husky side and won't likely play nice with anything else attempting connection in the vicinity. Patriot included a well made cable extension of about a foot in length for such circumstances.
Another consideration is bundled features and software. I absolutely needed a flash drive with some sort of cap retaining mechanism. I will never understand why any manufacturer would create those silly little plastic caps that disappear even in empty clean rooms! The Patriot Xporter includes a little rubber fob which the cap can be attached to when not covering the USB plug.
As far as software goes, nothing at all was bundled. I received a rubber flash drive formatted for FAT16, the cap holder & chain, the USB extension cable, and a neck-lanyard. This is exactly how I like it, since I'll be using software from PortableApps.com and open source encryption & security tools. Out of curiosity I did take a look at Patriot's support & downloads page for their flash drives and found that they had everything I expected: a Win98 driver, an encryption tool, and some other stuff.
All in all, I can't recommend this drive enough.