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The Gigabeat Goes On At Toshiba

Irvine, Calif. — Toshiba’s gigabeats are back, but this time through the Toshiba group that markets portable computers, computer accessories, PocketPCs and business projectors.

Responsibility for marketing MP3 players and portable media players (PMPs) was handed off earlier this year by Toshiba America Consumer Products (TACP) in Wayne, N.J., to the digital products division of Toshiba America Information Systems (TAIS), a spokesman said.

For its first act, the TAIS division launched a 2GB flash-memory MP3 player with photo-viewing capabilities in a choice of silver or black chrome with 1.1-inch OLED display at an expected everyday $99. The U202 also features an FM tuner and an MP3 encoder, enabling consumers to record music from the internal tuner and rip music directly from a CD player without using a computer. Distribution is through and retailers of computers and consumer electronics.

The U202 weighs 1.48 ounces and sports a lithium-ion battery that lasts up to 20 hours on one charge. It’s compatible with Windows Media Player 10 and up and stores music in MP3, WAV and protected WMA formats.

The division plans a video-capable MP3 player with 2-inch screen for its next act, a spokesman said without specifying a time frame.

In 2005, TACP reentered the MP3 portable market after a more-than-two-year absence with four HDD models that played music and displayed photos. The company followed up in 2006 with video-playing PMPs.

Besides portable computers, TAIS’s digital products division markets PC peripherals such as mice, keyboards, digital picture frames, docking stations and monitors.