Capacity: 20Gb (18.7GB usable) - 332hrs@128kbps MP3
Formats: MP3, MPEG1 audio, WMA, WAV, Plays-for-Sure downloads
Screen: QVGA 240x320 pixel color TFT LCD
Size: 4.2” by 2.5” by 0.6”/63cm x .106cm x .16cm
Price: $399 CDN (MSRP)
What it comes with:
USB 2.0 cable
Quick Install Guide
The most striking thing about this player is the “mini 2001 monolith” look to it. The front is all black, with a black brushed aluminum center panel, inset with the gorgeous 2.2 inch QVGA screen. Turn on the screen, and you get a bright colorful display, better than pretty much every other MP3 player, and most of the portable media players. Also is the unique “Plus Point” control. The back is sleek and black, with a lanyard connection loop at the top, a la cameras, something that I like very much, especially at the price of these players.
The sides are a dark “champagne” color. The right side includes extra controls: Power, Menu, Volume rocker, and the assignable “A” button. The side buttons glow a nice cool blue. The top has the headphone jack, hold switch, and the power connector, (I wish this was on the bottom). The bottom has the
The main control is the cross-pad is front and center, and seems like it would be pretty simple. I figured that it would be quite easy to use, I was somewhat disappointed. The controls are not as responsive as one would expect. After using several interfaces using control pads rather than buttons, I tried to slide around on the cross. I thought the unit was broken until I looked in the manual and found out the cross is actually 5 buttons, not 2 sliders. It would have been better to just separate them, 4 on the points, and 1 in the middle, and put the side buttons up front.
The side buttons are nice and pretty but they are not exactly useful where they are, in particular the redundant volume controls. Since the screen can be rotated to fit the viewing format you like best, the cross-pad remaps to keep the control orientation the same. Unfortunately for this fabulous feature, the side buttons can’t move as well. Those same pretty buttons are in such a place that you won’t be able to use any standard cases, since you would only have access to the cross-pad. Keeping with the side buttons, the use of them is a little confusing; the menu button should be VERY self explanatory, and generally is, but when in the play/view functions it brings up a basic interface/settings menu, and oddly enough the Power button brings up the menu that you would expect from the Menu button.
This is an interface only geeks/analysts could love. To play a song, you have to select Folders, then artist/album/genre/playlist, and then pick the next seemingly random selection sorted by artist, or a list of all such classified tracks. Simple right… Let’s just say the iPod is huge for a reason.
The screen is large, and high resolution enough to be readable in any conditions and the TFT display is readable in bright daylight. I like that the layout of the screen is well thought out, especially that the time is displayed on all of the screens other than the picture viewer. There are several visualizations during playback. My biggest display peeve is that you can’t turn off the album art, which would allow viewing of the wallpaper that you assign, (Setup1-Setup5, or the creative User1-User3).
Two last important buttons are on the included dock. The left button initiates syncing with your PC, and the one on the right is to rip a CD directly to the device. Great features for sure, but not really needed. You can backup your USB drives, and compatible digital cameras, directly to the drive, a really handy feature mainly for vacations when you are taking more pictures than can fit on your card. Unfortunately, you can’t view the pictures unless they are imported through the Gigabeat Room software.
The connections on the back of the dock are the USB2.0 port, the power port, and a line out port (nice). There is a USB1.0-in port for your backups. The dock is the only way to connect to the PC for importing of music/pictures, the USB port on the device itself will only allow for disk mode access.
You can use the included Gigabeat Room software, (I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s the only way to import pictures), or Windows Media Player 10 for transfers. The Gigabeat Room software includes a manual, just as thick, but separate from the Player Manual… Not a good sign. Not too much to say about WMP, since it’s on all pretty well all Windows machines, other than it is the only way to import Napster-to-Go tunes.
The sound is great. There are tons of presets for a portable player, 32 is more than the other players that I have used. You have a decent custom equalizer, and the SRS function work quite well. Even without any modifications, the audio is exemplary.
I got about 15 hours from this device, using the photo function quite a bit, about an hour, and listening to music at a decent volume. I was impressed, as it uses about twice the battery life to view images, than just listening to music. Pretty good, considering the rated life is 16 hours for listening only.
Generally I like this player, I like the all black look; Very sleek, very not-iPod, (There are other colors available). The screen is AMAZING!!! You need to see it in person to believe it. The audio is fantastic, and the SRS is nice on the flatter songs. The control layout is counter-intuitive, and the side buttons essentially remove any hope of finding a decent case to protect this player.
The transfer software is just as cumbersome as the player controls. The dock is far too flimsy feeling, it should have a bit of weight to it, it seems like the player would fall over just sitting there. I hope that there is a version 2.0 of this player, which fixes some of the software, and layout issues.
All this being said; I would recommend the player to someone who has not gotten use to the iPod interface, or just vehemently opposes purchasing an iPod. It is an amazing player and picture viewer; it just takes some getting used to the interface, and controls.
It’s a good alternative to the iPod, but as I said before there’s a reason the iPod is king.
Until next time,