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Toshiba Gigabeat P5 (512MB) Flash MP3 Player Review
Posted on 4-Apr-2006 17:55 by H Willan | Tags Filed under: Reviews

First impressions
The “pez dispenser sized” Toshiba P series MP3 player package bundles the device itself, wrist strap, earbud headphones, USB “B” cable, safety precautions, quick start guide, warranty card and the software CDROM ( Manual, Adobe reader and Windows Media Player 10).

It comes with 512MB memory for storage, which could hold up to 125 songs (depending on compression). Other features are:
  • 1.1” OLED colour screen
  • Li-ion integrated battery with up to 16 hours of playback, depending on use
  • Photo view and clock screensaver
  • FM radio, Voice recording and direct recording
  • USB2.0
  • Line-in recording from any source using analogue input

    External Appearance
    The device comes in Pearl White or Metallic Black. The front has the Plus Control, play/stop/pause and the mic pickups.
    On the right side there are the menu/power, hold and USB connection. The left side has a reset hole that can be reached with a paper clip. On the bottom has the wrist strap connection points and finally, there is the headphone jack and line-in on top.

    There are no obvious screws on the device. It seems to me the unit is factory sealed and to try and open it would damage it.

    The USB connection is a small rubber flap that folds back. It has a thin stalk of rubber that turns white with stress when you bend it back to expose the USB port. I could see that with continual use, this may just snap from wear and tear.

    Using the Device
    You must hold down the menu/power button to startup and shutdown the device. It shows a colored splash screen on startup and a plain grey on on shutdown.

    Lightly pressing the menu/power button once, brings up the root menu. This menu shows three submenus for Audio, Application, Settings.

    The top line always shows whether you’re playing/paused/stopped, what equaliser settings you’re on and the power remaining.

    The Audio menu contains the following options: Artist, Album and Bookmark

    The Application menu includes: Photo, FM Tuner, Voice Recorder, Line-in Recorder, and Play Memo.
    Lastly, the Settings menu included: Equaliser, Play Mode, Delete Memo, Rec Quality, Display Off, Clock, Sleep Timer, Date Time Set, Language and Factory Defaults.

    Most of these are self explanatory, but I did find it odd to see the Delete Memo function from here.

    The Line-in option adds a unique twist to the ever increasing market of players. Of course you will have to play with audio levels to get things alright as it’s encoding directly from an analogue stream so will also be prone to interference through the input cable or from the source device.

    Using from the PC
    Pretty easy actually. No content protection, and the device is recognised by Microsoft’s Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), being automatically added to Windows Explorers with its own icon and name (obviously taken from the device).

    Interestingly enough the device doesn’t show up under Disk Management or Removable Storage, but instead appears under Device Manager > Windows Portable Devices.

    You can select the MTP icon from the system tray and choose to sync from Window Media Player 10.

    Personally, I was happy enough to do it the old fashion way and simply copy files over. When doing so, files should be placed in the Media\Music folder.

    I did try to copy some OGG encoded music that I have. The Windows file system, then alerted me to the fact that the device does not support it, giving the options to “Skip” or “Cancel” the copy operation. There was no “Continue” anyway option.

    FM Radio
    All FM radios for these small devices use the headphone loop as the antenna, wich is pretty poor. You tend to get a lot of static and hiss as you move with them. This is no fault of Toshiba’s, being simply the nature of the beast.

    The FM range was from 76MHz to 106MHz which is pretty good and will pick up the New Zealand radio stations. There is no AM.

    You can choose to set your favourites and the device takes up to 10 presets.

    You can also record directly from the radio, the device doing its own MP3 compression to the output file. Depending on the record quality your setting can be as high as 192Kbps @ 44Khz.

    Photo Viewer
    To add Photos to the device there must be a Media\Photo folder on the device.

    You simply copy photos over and view them through Application > Photo. Use the Plus Control to view next/previous the device then scales and renders the “microscopic” photo onto the 1.1” OLED. While it gives you an idea of what the photo is colour reproduction is pretty average and it’s a tiny, tiny display.

    Good Things
  • Sturdy feel to the plastic
  • Light and very compact
  • Charges its own Lithium-Ion battery from USB

    Neato Factors
  • Bright OLED works well in the sunlight
  • Line-in is novel

    Major Annoyances
  • None really, it lives up well to the expectations which are that of a accessible MP3 player

    Minor Annoyances
  • Plus Control tactile feedback could be increased

    Things I’d like to see added to the next model
  • The play/stop/pause button could be moved up to the left or right above the Plus Control and another button could be added.
  • Belt clip could be added

    At NZ$199RRP for 512MB and NZ$259RRP for 1GB, you’d be mad not to splash out and get the extra half a gig. Prices will vary as I’ve seen NZ$187 and NZ$249 respectively around on the web.

    Overall I was quite pleased with the device. It was easy to use and without the hassles of content protection it made transferring my music onto the device very easy.

    I don’t really know why you’d want to use the picture functionality, but I’m guessing the Toshiba OS has it there for all there devices so you get it for free (X series).

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