One of the great mysteries of the Universe is why Apple has such a stranglehold on the portable music player market. The range of iPods certainly look pretty, but for each model Apple releases, someone else brings out a player that has better specifications and provides value for money that Apple just can't match.
- Small yet feature-packed
- Poor quality included headphones, only charges through USB connection, no Mac support
A great little player for those who only want to carry round a small selection of music.
Price$ 179.00 (AUD)
Such is the case with the iPod Shuffle, perhaps the most irritatingly unsophisticated MP3 player ever invented. Toshiba's 512MB Gigabeat P5 is squarely aimed at potential iPod Shuffle customers, and by the looks of things, should be stealing many away.
The main advantage the Gigabeat has over the iPod Shuffle is the addition of a screen. For the Shuffle, the lack of a screen meant limited functionality and whilst the P5's screen may be only 1-inch in diameter, it's certainly adequate for browsing song titles. If you wear glasses however, you may find the tiny text size to be a bit frustrating. The interface itself could have been better implemented as we found selecting a song from a long list can take a fair bit of time. Where the P5 stands out is build quality, which is on par with the iPod Shuffle, feeling compact and lightweight yet fairly solid. The ergonomics aren't quite up to Apple's high standards, as unlabelled buttons mean it's not always obvious what to press. On the whole, the Gigabeat looks attractive and is comfortable to use.
Toshiba have managed to cram an impressive amount of gadgetry into the Gigabeat's diminutive frame. In addition to music playback the P5 boasts a photo viewer, FM radio and voice recording. One great feature is the ability to directly record from the radio to the built in memory. Voice recording is possible using the built in microphone, or by utilising the line in connection on the unit. However, you'll find that the unit's memory gets eaten into when recording - at only 512MB (enough for about 125 songs) you won't be using this feature very often and being a flash player, there is no slot for memory expansion.
The P5 is let down by below average sound quality. Using the player's default settings combined with the included headphones gives a flat sound that is lacking in bass. The sound quality can be greatly improved by changing the settings of the built in equaliser and using a pair of quality headphones or earbuds. Another annoyance is that the unit can only be charged through a USB connection, and whilst doing this it is not possible to use the P5. The battery itself lasted about 12 hours in testing, which is a little below average for a flash player.
The P5 is a solid little player and with the addition of a screen and some extra features, it really is an iPod Shuffle killer. Unless you own a Mac (the P5 software only works with Windows), we feel there's no reason why you wouldn't be happy with the P5.
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