Toshiba gigabeat S MES30V review

Toshiba gigabeat S 30GB

I received a Toshiba gigabeat 30GB portable audio/video player as a gift recently. It is my first non-iPod DAP. I have owned the first ever iPod (5 GB), a 2G iPod Mini (4 GB), a 1G iPod Shuffle (512 MB) and most recently, a 2G iPod nano (8 GB).

Toshiba gigabeat S 30GB - top view

The Toshiba gigabeat S MES30V is a feature-full gorgeous looking device. The built quality looks just as good as the iPods. You can use the gigabeat S to play music, view your photo albums, watch movies as well as listening to the FM radio. Just like the iPod, it is possible to hook up the gigabeat player to a Xbox 360 and have it control the music. My Xbox 360 was in the shop and it is on its way back to me so i should be able to try that out later this week.

Just like the iPod video, it has a 320×240 QVGA screen. The nice and bright screen on the gigabeat S is aligned length-wise from top to bottom, when you are holding it upright, while the screen on iPod video is aligned length-wise horizontally. By default, watching video in landscape mode requires you to rotate the the gigabeat sideway. It is also possible to watch video in portrait mode, but i doubt many will choose to configure the playback this way. Since i don’t personally own an iPod video, i can’t compare the video quality between the devices, but the video images are very sharp and detailed.

The Toshiba gigabeat S runs on Windows Mobile Media Center version 2.11. As expected, it plays WMA, MP3 and WAV, and it does not support songs encoded in Apple’s proprietary AAC. It supports a subscription-based service called PlayForSure. I think PlayForSure is pretty much a dead thing now since the new Zune portable media player from Microsoft does not have any support for PlayForSure. It’s strange that Microsoft chose not to include the support of its own subscription service in its own media player.

Toshiba gigabeat S 30GB next to a 2G iPod Nano (8GB)

The Portable Media Center software is very easy to use and navigation using crosshair style 5-way control is a breeze. One thing i particularly like is when i am in the “my music” menu (What is Microsoft’s fascination with adding a “my” to almost everything? You have “my tv”, “my music”, “my pictures” and “my videos” on the main menu), i can change the display listing among “artists”, “playlists”, “songs”, “genres” and “albums” just by pressing the left or the right button on the crosshair-like control. On an iPod, if i want to see all the songs while i am in the “Playlists” screen, i will need to go back to the main “Music” screen, navigate down to “Songs” and then select it.

Toshiba gigabeat S 30GB next to a 2G iPod Nano (8GB) - top view

Similar to the latest 5G iPod and 2G iPod nano, when scrolling through a list, by holding either the up or down button on the controller, a graphic of the first letter appears on screen. For example, if you are scrolling through the list of songs from A to Z, the graphic of the letter K will show up as songs with first letter of K are being displayed. In fact, i think this feature works quite a bit better on the Toshiba gigabeat S than on my iPod nano. Normally, it takes at least a good few seconds before the graphic of the letters start showing up on my iPod nano. On the gigabeat S, it’s almost instantaneous.

Toshiba gigabeat S 30GB next to a 2G iPod Nano (8GB) - back view

Another feature i like is the ability to switch between different screens during the playback just by using the left or right buttons on the controller. The following screen capture from the gigabeat owners manual describes the different playback screens:
Toshiba gigabeat S 30GB playback screens
Another playback screen that is very handy is the screen that allows instant changes to the current playback mode (song rating, shuffle, repeat and the EQ setting). I am not sure what the “purchase” option is for.
Toshiba gigabeat S 30GB playback setup screen

One thing that takes a little bit of getting used to is the dedicated buttons on the right side of the player. The dedicated buttons include power, volume rocker, reverse/previous, play/pause and fast forward/next. Because i have grown accustom to iPod’s control, i keep mistakenly press the left/right button on the controller, instead of the dedicated side buttons, when i want to skip to the previous/next song.

The gigabeat S is supposed to be one of the few DAP out there that allows you to directly transfer photos and movies from your digital camera without the need for a computer. But no matter what i do, it just won’t play nice with my Panasonic DMC-FZ5. From what i read, it only works on some digital cameras.

Now that i have mentioned all the goods, here comes the things i do not like about the gigabeat S.

  • The packaging material could be better. A lot better. If you are used to the packaging standard set by Apple’s products, the Toshiba gigabeat S packaging material is nothing to write home about. Anythingbutipod.com has a picture of the box.
  • A horrendous-looking two-piece power adapter. Are people still making these in 2006?
  • It only works on Windows-based PC, specifically Windows XP, requiring Windows Media Player to synchronize and manage. If you only have a Mac, like i do, you can forget it. Though my Powerbook running Mac OS X 10.4.8 recognizes it as a Toshiba gigabeat S, it won’t mount it as a hard drive.
    Toshiba gigabeat S in Apple System Profiler
  • If you have songs encoded in Apple’s AAC format, you will have to re-encode them in either WMA, MP3 or WAV.
  • There is a very tiny battery switch at the bottom of the device. As my room was pretty dimly lit when i opened the box up, it took me quite a while before i figured out the location of the battery switch. Oh yeah, you need something as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen to adjust the battery switch. Supposedly, when not using the gigabeat for a long time, it is recommended to switch it to “off” to extend the battery life.
    Toshiba Gigabeat S battery on/off switch
  • Average battery life. According to Toshiba, battery life is 12 hours for audio and 2.5 hours for video. Apple’s 5G video iPod (30GB) has a battery life of 14 hours for audio and 3.5 hours for video. This device is not going to make 20-hour transpacific flight between here and Singapore.
  • If you pause a song and gigabeat powers itself off (power saving), you can’t just press the dedicated play button to continue the playback. In fact, none of the buttons work. To continue the playback, you need to press the power button and then the play button. It is only a two-step process but it requires you to press two separate buttons. In my iPod nano, to wake it up from “sleep” to continue the playback, all i have to do is to press the play button twice.
  • No custom equalizer setting. The equalizer settings are limited to acoustic, classical, electronic, hip hop, jazz, pop and rock. iPod has the ability to customize equalizer settings since the first generation.
  • Most importantly, there is no gapless playback!!! This is a very important requirement for me because i have a big collection of techno/trance albums with no gaps between the songs.
  • I am not sure who designed the hideous flash-based website for the Toshiba gigabeat player. One would think that after spending a ton of money on developing a pretty decent DAP, Toshiba would spare a few more bucks to have an equally gorgeous-looking website. Clicking on the “Support” link, there are only five options available: product registration, system requirements, product notices, download owner’s manual and contact. Search engine and support forum are nowhere to be found.
  • Update 1/15/2007

  • If the battery has been drained completely, it is not possible to charge it via USB. You will need to use the power adapter. So instead of bringing with me just the USB cable when i am on the road, now i have to carry to big ass power adapter as well.
  • Just by leaving the gigabeat on standby, the battery drained itself completely in a matter of days. Not since the first generation of iPod have i seen a device with such a bad power management design.
  • Questionable support for future enhancement (software) from Microsoft. It is not clear if Microsoft will continue the support for the development of PMC.

18 Comments

PeteFebruary 15th, 2007 at 16:48

Got mine a couple of weeks ago for a birthday present. Got an unwanted one off Ebay for 25% off the retail.

So far it’s been great. Only a few issues which I’ll figure out over time.
1. Windows media player sucks… but I’m getting the hang of it.
2. Yeah, battery life isn’t too great. I have to charge it often, and ditto on the power supply… it is actually pretty big.
3. No one has protective cases here in Australia, it’s just IPOD and a few Zen accessories.
4. Yeah, a custom eq setting would be good… and what does the harmonics setting do??? so far, nothing.

HesayanJuly 25th, 2007 at 16:31

I also got one as a gift.
Fanatstic however I struggle with windows media player.i like the ability to plug into my tv to watch DVD’s I have downloaded to the Gigabeat

patioSeptember 18th, 2007 at 19:14

anyone have any good sites to download music and, more importantly, movies? cheers.

neneNovember 27th, 2007 at 03:06

thank you so much for the handy tips.
Left my charger interstate and wondered why I couldnt recharge using my USB. Thought I broke it in transit. What a pain in the arse. Do I have to wait now for my charger to be posted by my most unorganised friend. What a pain!!!

joeyAugust 2nd, 2008 at 16:12

a friend gave me one with out any adapter or connections. i checked the toshiba website and they didnt seem to carry any. does anyone know where to get them?

vicMarch 5th, 2009 at 08:28

it should charge via usb, but like most charge through usb devices, it only has one host controller. so it will not charge while it’s on. if it is turned off (not the battery) and still will not charge via usb, then it’s broken.

something that unfortunately occurs too foten on this model.

aaMay 31st, 2009 at 01:18

where can i find the installer i lost m installer

MikeJune 13th, 2009 at 08:16

Do you know what what Zune model is similar to the MES 30V? I would like to buy some accessories that connect to the insert (external speakers). Thank you.

SvendogJune 16th, 2009 at 12:14

Get an iPod.

EnriqueJune 28th, 2009 at 20:29

Por problemas de viaje perdi la caja en donde venian los aditamentos de mi iPod unicamente tengo el equipo quisiera se me informara en donde o a quien puedo recurir para poder adquirir los aditamentos mencionados y asi poder cargar la musica y videos…los felicito por este equipo que me a dado buenos resultados espero la informacion.

EnriqueJune 28th, 2009 at 20:47

En seguimiento a mi correo (soy Enrique), como datos adicional de mi iPod les doy la informacion siguiete para que los aditamentos requerios sean los adecuados.
Version 2.11 (632) gigabeat S Version de Plataforma 1.0 (632.4)
Capacidad 55.63GB

dianeSeptember 13th, 2009 at 16:26

my battery will not charge any suggestions

ktulaSeptember 14th, 2009 at 10:29

@ diane Have you tried to charge it with the power adapter instead of USB?

JXL19October 22nd, 2009 at 03:45

It happens, naturally, in a coffeehouse. ,

jessieJanuary 13th, 2010 at 08:18

this ipod sucks. it’s ugly. fuck you!

TinaApril 14th, 2010 at 06:16

I lost my adaptor while travelling overseas but I could not find any new adaptor for this Toshiba MES30V. Is there any one who know where I can get it? ….Thanks.

keithDecember 24th, 2010 at 07:10

Is there a docking station available for this?

OscarQJune 28th, 2012 at 06:51

The on/off switch, which requires a microscope to find, looks worned out. Does anybody know a number I can call to find the nearest repair center? I live is Los Angeles. Also, I did not use this when I got my ipod-touch, so a couple of years ago, now it will not hold a charge anymore and needs battery replacement. Please help if you can.

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