Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Toshiba Gigabeat U201
- Produces good sound with supplied headphones, drag and drop functionality
- Doesn't do anything that many other players don't do, headphone cable too short, hold button annoying to use
The Toshiba Gigabeat U201 is a basic media player that performs well, but doesn't set itself apart from the crowd.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
The Toshiba Gigabeat range always seems to do something new and unique or have functionality that seems smart and well thought out. However, the U201 is a Gigabeat in name only with a run-of-the-mill feature set and its fair share of annoying quirks.
The U201 is a good player but it doesn't do anything to make it stand out from the crowd. The design isn't inspiring, the controls aren't intuitive and the interface isn't innovative. We have seen this player before, from different manufacturers, in different chassis and at different prices.
That being said, it does perform quite well. The sound quality is top notch and the supplied headphones do a good job of delivering it. The bass is a little lacking, but this is to be expected with stock ear buds. We were most impressed with the subtleties in our music. Instruments were separated and laid out in correct regions of the sound stage. These are things that are usually lost with standard headphones.
Furthering the ongoing relationship with Microsoft, Toshiba encourages you to sync your Gigabeat with Windows Media Player which, while useful to some, isn't actually necessary for transferring music to the player. Thankfully, when plugged into a USB port, the U201 is found as a mass storage device and files can be dragged to the device without having to use an intermediary program.
There are two elements of the Gigabeat U201 which we found frustrating. The first is the headphones which produce good sound but are flimsy, uncomfortable and have a frustratingly short cable. It seems that the headphones are designed with lanyard use in mind, though one is not supplied. You could put the device in your pocket if you were willing to permanently hunch over but we have seen Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame, and that story didn't end well.
The second point is with respect to the hold button. Hold is used to turn off all buttons so you don't accidentally skip to the next track. However, since the screen automatically turns off to conserve power, hold becomes a hindrance if you want to see the title of the current track. We would have liked a way to turn the screen back on, even when in hold mode. It might seem like nitpicking, but having to switch the hold on and off repeatedly was frustrating in situations where you are listening to random artists.
The U201 has a 1.1in OLED screen and comes with 2GB of storage. In addition to its music player (WMA, MP3, WAV), its other features include a picture viewer (JPEG), FM radio and line-in recording. Line-in mode has an interesting feature where it can automatically detect when a new song has started from an external source. This way you can plug in your CD or record player and let the device record all the tracks automatically with a separate MP3 file for each. A full charge of the internal battery will provide around 20 hours of audio playback whereas a quick 10min charge will provide three hours. A full charge will take around 2.5 hours via USB.
If you are looking for a solid unit that does what it is supposed to and does it well, then the Toshiba Gigabeat U201 may be right up your ally. It comes in blue, white or pink, and at this price point and feature set, its sales will most likely reflect its aesthetic appeal.
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