Toshiba debuts small hard disk music player

Toshiba has announced a new hard disk-based digital music player that is both smaller and lighter than both its previous model and the competing iPod player from Apple Computer.

The Gigabeat MEG200J (G20) contains a 20G-byte hard disk drive, which is four times the capacity of that in Toshiba's previous model, the MEG50JS. It is enough space to store up to 332 hours of music, encoded at 128k bps (bits per second), or, put another way, around 5,000 songs, according to Toshiba. Formats supported are Windows Media Audio (WMA), MP3 or WAV.

In size the G20 is a good deal smaller than Toshiba's previous model. It measures 89.5 millimeters by 76.5 millimeters by 12.7 millimeters which means total volume is 87 cubic centimeters (cc). That's less than half the volume of the MEG50JS, at 181cc, and also less than both the 15G-byte and 30G-byte versions of Apple's iPod, which have volumes of 100cc and 120cc respectively. (see table, below)

In addition to its smaller size the player is also lighter. The G20 weighs 138 grams compared to 235 grams for the previous model and 168 grams and 176 grams for Apple's two players.

Part of the reduction is due to the hard disk drive becoming a solely internal drive on the new player. Toshiba's last player took PC Card hard disk drives, which had the advantage of being able to be connected directly into a notebook computer but the disadvantage of requiring more space.

On the front of the player is a small monochrome flat-panel display that is used for navigation and to display details of the current playing track.

Battery life is estimated to be around 11 hours on a full charge and the player connects to a PC through a USB 2.0 interface. While its both smaller and lighter than Apple's iPod, the Toshiba player can't compete with the iPod on all platforms. Its supporting software is only compatible with PCs running Windows 98 second edition and higher and won't work on a Mac.

Toshiba plans to put the G20 on sale in Japan in early October, where it will cost around ¥50,000 (US$424). There are no concrete plans to put it on sale overseas but Toshiba says the company will consider international sales should it sell well in Japan. Like the previous model, the G20 can be switched between Japanese, English, French, German and Spanish.

Player Length (mm) Width (mm) Depth (mm) Volume (cubic cm) Weight (grams)
Toshiba Gigabeat MEG200J 89.5 76.5 12.7 86.9 138
Toshiba Gigabeat MEG50JS 112.0 72.5 22.3 181.1 235
Apple iPod 10, 15GB 103.5 61.8 15.7 100.4 158
Apple iPod 30GB 103.5 61.8 18.7 119.6 176

- Sources: Toshiba press release, Web site and Apple Japan Web site.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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