Toshiba Gigabeat V30
- Internal speaker, direct download from digital cameras, sound quality, battery life
- Grainy screen, no FM-tuner, can't charge with USB connected
This stylish looking portable media player comes with some excellent features and a nice long battery life. It offers some great added functionality to an otherwise full selection of media capabilities, but a better screen would have been nice and the lack of FM radio is disappointing.
Price$ 448.00 (AUD)
The Toshiba gigabeat MEV30K has a lot to live up to in the wake of its predecessor, the Gigabeat S (MES30). With 30GB of storage, the gigabeat MEV30K has excellent audio quality, equally impressive battery life, is easy to navigate and looks fairly stylish. However, it is hampered by a grainy screen and is missing some of features we would have liked to have seen carry over from the Gigabeat S (MES30).
Installed with Windows Portable Media Centre (PMC), the MEV30K provides easy navigation and a fairly smooth experience. Powering up or down is almost instant and manoeuvring rapidly through the menus doesn't result in any irritating lag. We also found the sound quality was very good, offering clean high notes and solid, but well formed bass. The internal speaker, a new addition, also produced loud, quality audio, which is mostly distortion free, even at the maximum volume.
Apart from the internal speaker, the only clear advantage the MEV30K has over the Gigabeat S (MES30) is its considerably longer battery life, which is quoted by Toshiba as up to 30 hours of audio playback and eight hours of video playback. We listened to audio and played videos for extended periods of time on a daily basis, and only had to charge the gigabeat MEV30K every few days.
However, unlike the Gigabeat S (MES30), the gigabeat MEV30K doesn't offer an FM tuner. The 3.5in OLED screen has a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels and is nice and bright. However, the image is very grainy, particularly in areas of high contrast, and looks quite blocky and pixelated. While the screen is fine for some casual viewing, it doesn't compare to other products on the market. Another odd problem with the MEV30K is the fact that it can't be charged while connected to the USB cable. This means you can't copy music and charge the device simultaneously; a rather annoying limitation if you're in and out of the house and want a quick charge with a change of music.
Supported are MP3, WAV and WMA audio formats, including WMA Lossless and compatibility with DRM 9/10 music subscription services, and it will also display album art where it's available. For video, only the WMV file format is supported, but other formats can be converted and copied to the gigabeat MEV30K using Windows Media Player. Connecting to a PC is easy via the mini-USB cable, as the MEV30K is a PlayForSure device and will be instantly accessible through Windows Media Player 10.
As well as audio and video functions, the gigabeat MEV30K supports JPEG images and can be used as a picture viewer. It can also be used to backup still photos directly from a digital camera using an adapter cable for USB connected cameras. The PMC software automatically detects the camera and confirms the copy before beginning. This is an excellent feature if you're out on the road or travelling for a long period of time without regular access to a computer. The gigabeat MEV30K also comes with an analogue AV-out cable, so it's possible to display images or videos through a TV, or hook the player up to a stereo.
Aside from its primary use as a player, the gigabeat can also act as a portable storage device. Simply drag and drop files in Windows Explorer like you would any other external storage solution and off you go.
The controls are a little clunky, but overall they're not too difficult to use. The Windows Start key takes you back to the root menu, while a back button returns incrementally through each menu level. A five-way joystick takes care of the rest. When listening to audio you can play/pause with a dedicated button and the MEV30K also has forward and back search buttons. Volume controls are easily accessible from the face of the unit.
Options for the player include seven preset equalizer settings for jazz, rock, acoustic and the like. The PMC interface neatly segregates all the media for clean navigation. Photos are stored under a photo section of the interface, as music and videos are stored under their respective titles. Meanwhile, downloaded TV shows and feature films are stored in a TV section.
The supplied ear-bud earphones won't win any awards, but that isn't unusual for these types of devices.
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