Toshiba Gigabeat S (MES30)
- Good screen, Windows interface, good quality sound and video, wide range of formats
- No recording abilities, awkward tv file transfer
Stand out from the iPod crowd with this excellent Windows-based media player.
Price$ 429.00 (AUD)
One of the first things that strikes you when looking at Toshiba's latest portable media player is the presence of a Windows key. You certainly don't see those on the iPod, and that's because the gigabeat S is the first player to have Windows Portable Media Centre on board. This means there's an incredibly simple and intuitive interface. The gigabeat S is a worthy addition to the media player market, and this is primarily due to the addition of Windows.
Video playback is smooth, and the gigabeat's bright, albeit small screen is more than adequate for watching the occasional movie. As the gigabeat's display is portrait, it's necessary to turn the device on its side to watch movies, which actually places the controls in a more convenient location. The gigabeat's battery isn't the best we have seen though, with a slightly disappointing 2.5 hours of video playback. Music playback is excellent, with good sound quality and an intuitive layout for browsing songs.
This is in fact one of the best interfaces we have seen on a portable media device, with the simple and attractive Portable Windows Media Centre proving to be excellent. It is just as easy to use as the iPod's famed interface, and should prove no problem, even for novice users. Battery life is better for music, at around 12 hours, though this is still on the low side for a media player.
Toshiba also include a range of simple equalisation options, and automatic transfer of album art from Media Player. One thing we would recommend is ditching the included earphones, as like most bundled with media players, they aren't of a good enough quality. The gigabeat comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack, so it will support third party headphones. The radio is another welcome inclusion, with automatic tuning making station selection easy. We found reception to be good, though the gigabeat did have a tendency to find and store distant stations that had very poor reception. It is possible to adjust the sensitivity of the tuner, but this cut off stations that we would rather have kept.
The unit is touted by many as another in a long succession of iPod killers, and it's certainly fair to make the comparison. Our test unit was the white 30GB version, though there's also a black version equipped with a 60GB hard drive. It is solidly constructed, though from our perspective it's not as slick-looking as the Apple stable. Unlike Apple's creations the gigabeat S is also a Windows-only device and thus won't work with a Mac.
Aesthetically, Toshiba has continued the trademark gigabeat styling. There's the 2.5in screen, positioned in portrait rather than landscape orientation, which makes it feel bigger than rival players such as the iPod, though in reality it's exactly the same. The dimensions of the unit are also similar to the iPod video, though it's a little thicker, measuring 59.9mm x 13.2mm x 99.9mm and weighing 127g. Like the gigabeat x60 there's a five-way directional control on the front with volume and track controls on the side. It's also nice to see the return of an on/off switch. Two extra buttons adorn the front: a back button, and the previously mentioned Windows key. Pressing this brings up the Start menu from which you can access all the gigabeat's features. These are: TV, music, pictures, videos, radio and settings.
Unfortunately TV is nowhere near as exciting as it sounds; there's no built-in TV tuner. But, fear not, it's still possible to get your favourite shows onto the gigabeat as WMV files. One option is to use Windows Media Centre and convert the files to WMV for viewing.
Similarly, music is also transferred using Windows Media Player. Previous incarnations of the gigabeat have used simplistic proprietary software, so it's nice to see Toshiba switching to a more integrated solution. We tested the device with Windows Media Player 11 (WMP 11), as this provides the best support. Copying music and videos is as simple as connecting the gigabeat through the USB port, and pressing 'sync' in media player. Windows will then transfer all the files over providing you have them in your media library. The gigabeat supports MP3, WMA (including DRM), WMA lossless and WAV audio formats, and WMV, MPG, AVI or DivX movies (provided you are using WMP 11). Media player even converts high definition content to a format the gigabeat can understand. We copied high definition DivX and 1080p WMV files with no problems whatsoever.
The gigabeat supports JPEG photo playback, and with folders for organisation and thumbnails for previewing each picture, browsing hundreds of photos is relatively simple. A photo slideshow accompanied with music can be set up and even output to an external screen using the bundled composite cable. The same feature is available for video files, although they are output at the native resolution of the gigabeat screen, so they don't look all that good. One other great feature is the inclusion of a USB adapter for digital cameras, which allows for the direct transfer of photos to the gigabeat. This is perfect when travelling, allowing you to back your shots up on the move without purchasing additional flash memory.
There are a few notable exclusions from the gigabeat, and these are primarily recording modes. There's no voice recorder, no option of recording from the radio and although pictures can be output to a television, they cannot be input. There isn't much in the way of extras in the package either. Toshiba includes Windows Media Player 10 on a disc, and there's also an AC adaptor, which is useful, but unlike older models of the gigabeat, there's no docking station or inline remote.
Overall, the gigabeat is a solid package. Other than the Windows interface there's little new on offer here, but everything it does, it does well. For anyone who wants to join the portable media revolution and wants something a little different from an iPod, the gigabeat S is an ideal solution.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Google Daydream VR headset
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® Portable SSD
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Acer Swift 7
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Surface Pro 4
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Apple TV will serve as hub for remotely controlling HomeKit devices
- Sony Smart B-Trainer headset gives runners vocal advice
- The iPod classic plays its last
- Apple iPod Touch pricing slashed by up to 25 per cent in Australia
- Apple shows off iPod touch, nano updates
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- LG 2017 OLED and Super LED UHD 4K TVs: Hands-on review
- Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- CCBusiness Analyst- Data GovernanceNSW
- FTWEB DesignerQLD
- FTAssociate Consultant - IT Project ServicesVIC
- FTSCOM Monitoring and Alerting SpecialistNSW
- FTMS Dynamics DevelopersNSW
- FTServer Engineer l Windows l VMWare l Active DirectoryNSW
- FTSenior System/Network EngineerACT
- TPProject Manager | HealthQLD
- CCTSM SpecialistNSW
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistACT
- TPAEM DeveloperNSW
- FTFull stack Developer | 3 mth ContractVIC
- TPUnix- Technical Support OfficerVIC
- CCAutomation Developer - LinuxNSW
- FTSeeking all Java Developers!ACT
- CCDomino SpecialistVIC
- TPIT Business Analyst (UX Design)NSW
- CCSenior Business Analyst - Forecasting SASNSW
- FTWeb Developer/ReportsNSW
- FTSenior Oracle DeveloperVIC
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistVIC
- CCAutomation TesterQLD
- FTICT Business Development Manager - Technical Products/SolutionsQLD
- FTSenior Infrastructure Business AnalystVIC