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Toshiba’s Gigabeat range has been around for a while but up to now it hasn't really made its presense felt in Europe. With the F series of players it hopes to change that. Whereas the G20 was a small but very cute looking device the F series doesn’t have the same slick tech-geek appeal but more than makes up for it with a serious raft of features.
There are three capacity sizes with 20, 40 and 60GB models available in silver or brushed black aluminium finishes. Mac users are not catered for. Our review unit was a 20GB model making it slightly thinner than its bigger brother and weighing less at 160G. On the face of it, the 20GB model offers tremendous value. 20GB of capacity, a 2.2in 320 x 240 resolution colour display, a cradle and at 16 hours, slightly more battery life than the iPod, and all for a lot less than the 20GB Apple player. The latter also has a lower resolution screen and no dock. The 20GB Gigabeat doesn’t include a remote control but it is supplied with the 40 and 60GB versions.
In many ways Toshiba should have the iPod licked, but unfortunately due to some design frustrations, falls short. The player supports MP3, WMA and WAV. Inevitably there’s no AAC or iTunes support but it’s compatible with Napster and conforms to Microsoft’s Play For Sure campaign.
Toshiba’s slogan for the Gigabeat is, ‘Because Music is Just Better in Color’. This is of course, ridiculous; it sounds the same, but there is something to be said for the screen. As with mobiles, colour screens have been slow to appear on portable music players, and when the likes of the iPod photo appeared they did seem to be something of a gimmick. But once you’ve seen the colour screen you’ll be sold and you’ll soon be looking at the mono screen on your current player with disdain.