Small annoyances mar Toshiba's new media player

Big screen and great audio quality but no A/V recording

Toshiba’s Gigabeat V30 portable media-player is sleek, good-looking and handy, but a series of small issues with it will take the shine off for some users.

The V30 offers music, film and video playback, and has a smooth original design. The black and white device has a 3.5 inch LCD screen, a 30GB hard drive and runs on Microsoft’s Portable Media Centre software. It also has a built-in external speaker, which is pretty cool.

The Gigabeat V30 measures 12.5 by 7.5 by 2 centimetres (1.8 centimetres at its thinnest point) and is quite heavy. It does fit in the pocket, but is a tiny bit too big to carry around comfortably. It needs bag-space.

And, while we are on the bag subject, the V30 can’t be charged via USB. There is even a little removable sticker on the back, saying the device can only be recharged using the AC adapter. We all know what that means — another cable to store and drag around.

The 320x240 resolution display is quite big compared with other portable devices, but perhaps a little pixelated. However, the screen is bright and colourful, and the picture is clear, even when viewed from an angle.

The main controllers are to the right of the screen — a Windows start-button, a back-button, a thumb-stick and volume control buttons. The Windows button will always take you back to the start menu.

The power button and media-playback controls are on top of the device. The V30 can be controlled one-handed, with your thumb on the front and your index finger on top, but it is definitely easier with both hands.

The V30 is not compatible with Macs, which caused a bit of trouble (because I am a Mac-head), but luckily there is a Dell, with Windows Media Player installed, in my household. So away I went and copied photos, music and a video to the V30, which was easy enough. It is notable that the device only supports playback of WMV files.

The V30 comes with an A/V cable, so users can view photos and videos on TV. But, unfortunately, the device can’t be used for A/V recording. A cool feature is that the V30 connects directly to a digital camera.

To sum up, the Gigabeat V30 is a good-looking device for playback of photos, music and video. The user interface is intuitive, audio quality is great and the battery life good. For me, the drawbacks are its size and that it lacks features for recording television programmes. In New Zealand, the V30 costs $649 and it is available now.

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