The Gigabeat U's graphical user interface looks out of place compared to its minimal industrial hardware design. The date and time screensaver shown here is a perfect example of the discordant design aesthetic.
Although the "squiggly line" icon for the right-hand menu button seems unintuitive, we adapted quickly and had no trouble figuring out how to use the Gigabeat U's controls.
On the bottom end of the Gigabeat U, you'll find the mini-USB connection and the headphone jack. This same jack doubles as a line-input connection for recording music from external sources such as microphones or CD players. There's also a metal-reinforced loophole in the center for attaching a lanyard.
The Gigabeat U's 1-inch OLED screen is fine for music playback, but it might be too tiny for people who enjoy viewing photos or album artwork.
The dual-purpose hold switch/power button on the top of the Gigabeat U is straightforward and easy to operate blindly in a pocket or bag. The raised pimples on the plastic button help to distinguish it.
The Gigabeat U is small enough to fit anywhere, but big enough not to get lost in the bottom of a purse or a backpack. The sturdy metal construction makes it perfect for bag abuse.
There's just something about metal construction that makes a device feel permanent, classy, and expensive. It's also cool to the touch and more resistant to wear and tear. Unfortunately, from this angle you can see that the plastic screen and decorative back panel stick out a little from the metal body, making them more likely to get scratched.