By Richard Menta 5/28/07
It came a little late for our summer rundown of digital portables, but Toshiba's updated Gigabeat V series makes for an interesting device. It might be mentioned that the 80GB V801 and its sibling the 40GB V401 are powered by Microsoft's Portable Media Center platform, which according to Mavromatic will no longer be supported by MS. That puts the V801 as the last product of a failed concept, though that probably represents market realities more than the virtues of the technology itself. What probably held this technology back most was the fact that it was tweaked to serve the vague protectionist notions of content creators rather than the wants and needs of the consumer.
The V801 sports a 4-inch 480 x 272 pixel screen and a healthy 4.9 x 2.97 x 0.94 inch profile. The unit weighs over half-a-pound so it's more for cruising into work on the train every morning than to supply music for that early morning run. The unit handles MP3 files and the various flavors of WMA and WMV, but no AAC so it won't play DRM-free tunes from Apple. The unit also plays portable SEGA games. Battery life is rated at 28 hours audio and 10 hours video, which is very good, though the larger battery probably accounts for some of the added weight. The unit will ship this June in Japan before coming to the states. The V401 will retail for $410 and the V801 for $490.
The question of course is this; if Mavromatic has it right and PMC is indeed going away what will Microsoft replace it with? We probably can turn to Zune 2.0 for that, a unit that has yet to make its appearance and probably won't until fall. In the meantime, you may want to keep an eye out for bargains on the iPod Graveyard as PMC units get discontinued.
Other MP3 stories:
iPod Killers for Summer 2007
- 38 new portable players
iPod Killer Graveyard: Failures Equal NIB Bargains
The Cowon D2 is available on Amazon