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Toshiba Gigabeat X60 HDD Audio Player review
Posted on 3-Apr-2006 09:06 by H Willan | Tags Filed under: Reviews

Initial aspects
The 1.8” Toshiba Gigabeat X60 60GB HDD MP3 Player includes the device itself, an installation CDROM with gigabeat room, gigabeat watcher and manual, wrist strap, safety precautions warning, quick start guide, USB “B” cable, earbuds and mains AC adapter.

The device itself is quite small, as shown by the comparison to my mobile phone, which is a cheap Nokia:

The device has “Screen themes” which are small animations that display during playback. They can only be shown when in portrait orientation. Personally none of them are particularly interesting and I’d imagine that the constant redraw for the LCD would also lessen the battery life, assuming you left the LCD on or even dimmed.

The LCD can be set to 5 secs then off, 10 secs then off, 20 secs then dim and always on. On start-up and shutdown the device shows a “splash” screen. This is darker on shutdown, which is subtle touch.

Screen orientation can be changed depending on how you like it. Either portrait or landscape, with a range of options to suit most people, being left or right handed. Landscape mode suits the music information more than portrait, but you lose the Plus control feedback indicators, which isn’t major.

From left to right, this view shows. USB Cradle connection, USB “B” connector for PC use, then the user button on the right, followed by the tilting volume control, menu and power button on the far right.

To power the device on/off you simply hold down the button until it responds.

The User assignable “A” button can be customised to a range of choices including; Play Mode, Equaliser/SRS, Album Skip, Bookmark, Mute, Display album jacket, Display Wallpaper or Main Menu.

When in the Playback screen, you can access extra functions by pressing, Menu, or the root menu by pressing Power. Returning to the playback screen can always be done by pressing Menu, then selecting the Playback screen.

The top of the device has a hold button to avoid accidental presses, the head phone jack and oddly enough, the mains power connector, which in most devices is located at the bottom.

Viewing Pictures
You can rotate pictures in the device as you view them. However, I felt that the screen was a little to small to be a truly useful picture viewer and you need a computer (PC) to transfer and manage the pictures on and off the device.

A more useful feature would have been to include the ability to use a card reader with the device, then be able to view and copy pictures onto it from the reader. Perhaps in the next model? This would allow you to collect pictures from friends without the need for a PC.

Once I got used to the Plus control and the devices operation, I found it relatively straight forward to set things up how I wanted. The only thing I referred to the manual for was how to configure a User Background image, which is actually made available through the Photo viewer app. When viewing images, you select the Menu and specify an image as either User1, User2 or User3. Then it’s available in the Wallpaper section.

Of course being a HDD you wouldn’t want to drop this from 4 feet to concrete. Still, it does have capacity over the solid state devices.

Included software
The gigabeat comes with the “gigabeat room” software. This application was developed by Toshiba for managing your player. You can choose though to have the player sync through to Windows Media Player if you wish.

This software also loads the gigabeat watcher into your system. It sits in memory (4MB) and watches for a connection from the gigabeat and then loads the configured application. It places an icon in the system tray that lets you know your device is connected.

The gigabeat room is fairly basic and only encodes to a maximum of 192Kbps, with generated files being content protected on the device, but not on the local PC.

You can turn off content protection (for the local PC), but the device itself still seems to have protected files.

When you encode a CD, it encodes it to your music directory and then copies the encoded files to the gigabeat. A nice touch is the integration with Gracenote and the downloading of the album cover which is transferred to the device and shown during playback.

However, for some strange reason you can’t set an album cover for the album when you haven’t encoded from a disc, each track must have the cover set individually. Which I thought was odd, but flexible. Obviously, you can configure each track, but I couldn’t find an option in the software to “apply this cover to all tracks”.

Obviously the device turns up in Windows Explorer as a drive (FAT32 file system according to disk management), so you can copy directly to the drive. But unless you’ve synchronised through gigabeat room or Windows Media Player, copied audio files are not displayed for use. Only files that have been synchronised through gigabeat room or Windows Media Player can be played.

Finally an overview shot:

Good things
  • Very light and compact, not much bigger than my cellphone
  • User controllable orientation for display (left or right hand, up/down)
  • QVGA LCD has good colour and works well even in daylight
  • User definable button
  • USB Cradle connection
  • No annoying noises or clicks during operation both externally to the device and when listening
  • Integrated Lithium Ion battery with up to 16 hours of charge
  • Can be recharged by the USB connection
  • Big range of preset equaliser options

    Neato factors
  • Can display album cover if available
  • Can set a custom photo as background image
  • Looks sharp in piano black with silver

    Major annoyances
  • Music is encoded to secure format, restricting extraction
  • Volume output is designed for headphones, so stereo must be turned up high to produce good sound level

    Minor annoyances
  • Plus control pad needs better tactile feedback. Though after a while you get used to how it works.
  • Not really useful as a photo viewer, 2.4” is quite small and UI for viewing is somewhat odd
  • Can’t set the orientation on the User specified background photo
  • “gigabeat room” software is fairly basic when compared to Winamp or WMP
  • Drive spin up/seek can cause latency when trying to skip around tracks/albums
  • Should really come with a USB cradle for the price
  • UI can sometimes feel clunky and wording is odd
  • Compression is limited to a maximum of 192Kbps

    With a NZ$629 price tag this isn’t exactly a cheap MP3 player. But, with a 60GB hard disk there’s a lot of room for expansion. With plenty of customisation available the device can quickly be personalised how you like.

    If you’re looking for a large capacity device and you’re not worried about content protection restricting you, then you won’t be disappointed.

    Things I’d like to see added to the device in the next model are:
  • FM transmitter. It would be good as it would eliminate the need to interface via the headphone jack. Personally I’d be willing to sacrifice some size for this feature, along with the additional battery loss.
  • A larger LCD. 2.4” isn’t large enough for photo viewing. A 4” display would be ideal to make more use of the photo display feature.
  • The ability to interface with a USB card reader and transfer pictures onto and off the device.
  • A hard case leather pouch would be good for protection.
  • A sturdy belt clip on the back (who wears wrist straps?)

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