IT’S sleek, sexy and a head-on contender to Apple’s iPod.
Toshiba’s Gigabeat hard drive-based digital music player has been available in Japan since last year and is finally coming here.
The player is available in three different sizes: the 20GB F20, 40GB F40 and 60GB F60 and can play back both music and images.
It is similar in dimensions to its market-leading rival, but instead of the iPod’s control wheel, the Gigabeat sports a plus-shaped touch control below a 2.2-inch colour LCD screen.
With its 40GB model, Toshiba fills a void left by the iPod, which is now available only in 20GB and 60GB versions, excluding the Mini and Shuffle ranges.
On price, the Gigabeat compares favourably with the iPod. The recommended retail price for the F20 is $489, compared with $529 for the 20GB iPod.
The F40 and F60 retail at $589 and $659, respectively, while the 60GB iPod carries a tag of $709.
Another string to the Gigabeat’s bow is that it ships with a docking cradle, which is now an optional accessory in the iPod range. The F20 and F40 are also available in white, blue, pink and silver, though the F60 comes only in silver.
The Gigabeat features a lithium ion battery, which Toshiba claims runs for up to 16 hours on a single charge and supports MP3, WMA and WAV music files. Toshiba’s CD RipRec software allows CDs to be copied directly to the Gigabeat, without files being loaded onto a PC first.
Last week Toshiba launched the range to its retailer partners Noel Leeming and Harvey Norman, who will stock all three models, while the IT channel will only be able to sell the F20.
Callum Eade, country manager for Toshiba’s information systems division, which markets the Gigabeat, says the product demonstrates Toshiba’s newfound drive to take full advantage of the technology it has developed before licensing it to other manufacturers, as it has done in the past.
“It will stand us in good stead for the growing MP3 player market,” he says.