By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Toshiba today launched the Gigabeat S series portable media players incorporating Windows Portable Media Centre software, further confirming the cosy relationship between the Japanese manufacturer and Microsoft.

The new Gigabeat S series players use a Microsoft Windows-based operating system for compatibility with Microsoft Media Centre PCs and Xbox 360s, similar to the brand’s earlier Gigabeat players which used a Microsoft OS.

The release closely follows news last week that Toshiba will be making the hardware for Microsoft’s first mp3 player, called Zune, which is likely to be launched prior to Christmas and feature wireless technology for file sharing.

The S series Gigabeat models will be available as the 30GB S30 in white (RRP $429), and the 60GB S60 in black (RRP $569), both featuring FM radio tuner, 12 hours battery life (2.5 hours video) and a 2.4-inch QVGA screen with 320×240 resolution.

Toshiba says users will be able to view TV programs recorded on Windows Media Centre PCs, and can listen to music stored on the player via their Xbox 360 which will display song information.

“By committing to the Windows Mobile-based Portable Media Center platform, we are excited to be working alongside Microsoft to develop devices that deliver a range of content,” said Toshiba Information Systems Division product marketing manager,  Matt Codrington.

“With the new S series, consumers have a range of entertainment choices to enjoy wherever they like.”

The Microsoft Xbox 360 video games console launched earlier this year featured an HD-DVD high definition optical drive which is heavily backed by Toshiba up against the Sony-backed Blu-ray Disc format.