Toshiba's Gigabeat was one of the few MP3 players left out there competing with the hard-disk iPods — the ones that give you big capacities in the neighborhood of 30 GB or more. Based on the new Gigabeat U-Series, it seems they've abandoned that idea and are doing what everybody else is doing: Making flash-based MP3 players that compete with the iPod nano and shuffle.
Funnily enough, the U-Series isn't exactly like either, with a shape and screen that are reminiscent of the nano, and a small 2-GB capacity that cries out shuffle. It plays MP3s, WMAs and WAVs (so forget about those AAC tunes you ripped in iTunes) but doesn't do video. You also get an FM tuner and voice recorder, which almost every manufacturer seems to think they're obligated to include in non-iPod MP3 players. Oh, hey, there's a photo viewer, too! Yes, this player will be a hit!
Really, Toshiba, do you think anyone's going to be interested in a 2-GB player that costs $99 — $20 more than the 2-GB iPod shuffle? At least your hard-disk players gave us an alternative to the regular iPod; how about an improved version of those? Anyone else have any ideas for Toshiba? They seem pretty clueless here.