The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Toshiba Gigabeat: THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

It seems as though the iPod has become synonymous with the words “MP3 player,” and unrightfully so. From dedicated departments in electronic stores to cameos in television shows, the iPod has seemingly taken over the world of portable audio players. Controlling over 90 percent of the hard-drive-based players market, there’s no denying its success. But why has the Apple- derived digital device become such a worldwide hit?

The fact of the matter is the iPod has become nothing more than an expensive investment with an excellent marketing campaign to keep consumers coming back. While Apple has undoubtedly established itself as the primary player in the portable audio arena, it only achieved that status by introducing innovative products that competitors scratched their heads at in disbelief. The sleek design and patented click wheel, combined with its seamless iTunes integration, shot the iPod to the top, knocking all other contestants out along the way. That is, until now.

In June, Toshiba released their long awaited Gigabeat S, the most creditable challenger to the iPod since the Creative Zen Vision: M, which featured all of the same bells and whistles of the fifth generation iPod Video and more, including an FM radio and voice recorder.

The Toshiba Gigabeat was unveiled at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and has since had audiophiles and gadget geeks biting their nails in anticipation. The Gigabeat uses Microsoft’s Portable Media Center (PMC) operating system, so consumers with Windows Media Center PCs will not only find the player’s interface familiar, but will find extra features available exclusively to those users.

The use of the PMC has caused critics to rave about its simple navigation, championing it over the iPod’s proprietary interface. As far as the player itself is concerned, it boasts audio and video support and an FM tuner. It offers much more than that, however. Subscription service support allows the Gigabeat to work with online stores such as Napster, Yahoo! Unlimited, and MTV’s newest venture, URGE; a feature the iPod does not possess.

While some do not mind dropping $.99 per track, music lovers who frequently download music would most likely prefer to pay $10-15 per month for unlimited downloads, or a multiplied price for a year. The option to purchase by the track for $.79-$.99 is also available to those who do not wish to commit to a subscription. It is also the first player to directly support Starz Vongo, a pioneer video rental subscription service.

The only thing holding iTunes back from being a flawless music store is its lack of subscription service support. Steve Jobs’ seemingly stubborn stance on the subject signals bleak chances of a subscription service anytime soon. The one-stop-shop model for videos, podcasts, and music, however, makes iTunes an attractive package to those looking for a primary music store.

The Gigabeat also includes more accessories out of the box than what the iPod offers. With the inception of the fifth generation of iPods came the exclusion of both an AC adapter and A/V cables, both of which the Gigabeat includes. This may attract those weary of the overpriced iPod accessories market that peripheral companies have cashed in on. From carrying cases to docking stations, accessories can run as low as $10 to prices over $200.

Many technology publications, such as CNET.com, have put the iPod head-to-head against the Gigabeat and the latter came out the victor. The point is, while the iPod is no doubt a quality player, there are other options available to those who actually wish to seek them out. The choice is yours and yours alone.

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