Toshiba will launch three new models of its Gigabeat digital music player in Japan over the next three months, and says it is considering launching the devices outside Japan.

The new models will be available in three capacities: 5GB, 20GB and 40GB in a variety of colour variations, said Midori Suzuki, a spokeswoman for Toshiba in Tokyo.

The new models expand the current range, which consists of a single model with 20GB capacity.

A second major change in the Gigabeat range is the addition of support for Microsoft's Windows Media Audio digital rights management technology, said Suzuki. With this new feature, the player will be able to support music downloaded through a number of commercial Web sites. The player also supports other Windows Media, WAV and MP3 format files.

Toshiba has also added the ability to recharge the Gigabeat's battery using a USB connection. Fully charging the batteries takes around three hours via either the USB or AC adapter and once charged the battery provides enough power for up-to 11 hours of music playback.

A Local Area Network (LAN) adaptor is also available as an option that allows the device to be connected to a network and accessed as a virtual hard disk. Uploading music to the player has to be done through the Toshiba Audio Application software, which is available only for Windows.

All three players are 76.5mm wide and 89.5mm high. The 5GB and 20GB models are 12.7mm thick and weigh 138g; the 40GB model is 15.7mm wide and weighs 156g. The 40GB model is bigger because its hard-disk drive is physically larger.

The MEG050 Gigabeat G5 model with a capacity of 5GB will be available in Japan from mid-July and will cost ¥29,800 including tax. The MEG202 Gigabeat G22 has a capacity of 20GB and will be launched in Japan in late July and cost ¥47,040 including tax. The flagship MEG400 Gigabeat G40 with a 40GB capacity will be available from September in Japan and cost ¥54,800.

Toshiba hasn't announced definite plans to sell the players overseas but is considering it, said Suzuki. Like the current model, the new devices all support menus in Japanese, English, German, French and Spanish.