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Toshiba Gigabeat MEG-F20
Portable Audio/Video Players | First Looks
Tue 04 Oct 2005

Gigabeat Your Tunes

Connect via cradle or mini USB cable.

'Hold' function prevents accidental button press.

Bundled earphones sound good enough.

It wasn't so long ago when choosing a HDD based audio player was as easy and straightforward a decision of either picking up an Apple iPod or a Creative Zen Touch. For top-notch audio fidelity on the go in a manageable handheld form factor with lasting battery life, almost nothing else could measure up against these two portable digital jukeboxes. In recent times however, making a swift and decisive call for such gadgets is increasingly challenging as consumers are now presented with more choices from a lot more brands. The Gigabeat MEG-F20 we have today is one of many contenders that is fully loaded with functions and with a large 2.2-inch QVGA TFT display, the MEG-F20 is looking all set to be a visually pleasing handheld as well.


The Toshiba Gigabeat F series of HDD based audio players is available in four different storage capacities starting with a 10GB base model, 20GB mainstream model, 40GB expanded storage and lastly a 60GB juggernaut to satisfy even the most demanding Joe. To make things easier, the four versions are all color coded for quick and easy identification with the 10GB version available in either aqua blue, black or silver acrylic; 20GB in either black or silver brushed aluminum; 40GB in champagne brushed aluminum and 60GB in dark gray brushed aluminum. Built out of a blend of hardy materials, the Gigabeat player feels like a sturdy little gadget, leaving no doubt that it should last its cause for a long time to come. Primary controls are, like the Apple iPod and Creative Zen Touch, touch sensitive and is further supported by five blue backlit buttons located on the right profile of the player, namely the action, menu, power and volume buttons.


Supporting MP3, WAV and WMA digital audio formats, the Toshiba Gigabeat F series should fit the bill of most users, all except for a handful of purists insisting on nothing less than lossless formats such as FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) and ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) codecs which are not supported by the player.

Regrettably, uploading compatible audio files into the Gigabeat player is a rather tedious process that involves owners to put themselves through meticulous reading of two detailed user manuals on top of learning Toshiba's very own Gigabeat Room managing software before a single track can be played. Another 'compulsory' reason for you to get yourself intimately acquainted with the software is the unwavering fact that all music files going into the player would have to be converted into *.SAT format, which unfortunately is the only extension the player recognizes for audio playback. In other words, the common method of inserting files via a simple drag and drop procedure is out of the question. This also means that files residing in the Gigabeat player cannot be simply extracted out and propagated unlawfully.

Of course, having just audio playback capability is no longer enough for HDD based media players these days. Backed by a brilliant 2.2-inch QVGA display with the ability to display up to 264,000 colors, the Toshiba Gigabeat is also a JPEG image file viewer. While we were in awe of its visual competence, we lament yet again having to endure the inconvenient step of using the Gigabeat Room application for uploading images into the Gigabeat player.

Thankfully however, the audio quality was impressive enough to ease our mounting frustrations with its tiresome software restrictions. Bass was clear and present with full-bodied reproduction of mid and high notes. If you're into equalizers, the Toshiba Gigabeat F player, with more than 25 presets and one customizable slot at your disposal, is more than up to task in stepping up the intensity of your tracks on demand. Clearly, the Toshiba Gigabeat has a lot of audio and visual potential waiting to be tapped. With more than 16 hours of uptime and at US$250, it's quite good value for money as well, though it must be reiterated that its Gigabeat Room software is unlikely to get much nods from consumers.

Product Specifications

  • Available HDD sizes: 10 / 20 / 40 / 60GB options
  • 2.2-inch QVGA TFT LCD (320 x 240 pixels)
  • Language Support: Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish
  • Media Formats Supported: MP3, WAV, WMV and JPEG
  • Album Artwork
  • Picture Viewer
  • 29 Equalizer Presets (1 Customizable)
  • SRS WOW Surround Effect
  • USB 1.1 / 2.0 Compliant
  • Built-in Lithium Ion Battery
  • Battery Life: 16 hours
  • Battery Recharge: 3 hours
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 63 x 106 x 16mm
  • Weight: 160g