Cowon D2 premium digital media player
Pretty, practical and pricey
I tried the D2 with a range of musical genres and enjoyed all of them. I also enjoyed the player's fantastic battery life. Cowon claims you'll get 52 hours' audio playback - I got more than 55, though that's with all the audio enhancement stuff turned off. But if you do want bass boost, an EQ setting, MP3 enhancement etc applied, there's still plenty of overhead for a long listening duration.
With a screen like this one, of course the D2 does video, and the pre-loaded clips look fantastic. I didn't watch any of my own, as I was unable to get the player to recognise them. I tried files with .WMV, .AVI, .MOV and .MP4 extensions all without success. The bundled chips are .AVI files that encapsulated DiVX 6, but I don't have any software to do the necessary conversions and Cowon doesn't appear to bundle any. The app the player ships with appears to be a media management and file transfer tool, though the D2 is a USB Mass Storage device, so drag and drop works just as well. There's no indication in the documentation what kind of video files the D2 prefers, beyond the "Movie File" the back of the box mentions.
Cowon claims the D2 will run for ten hours in movie mode, and on the basis of the player's audio performance, I wouldn't disagree.
Beyond video playback formats, the other issue I had with the D2 centres on how it handles storage. It's no surprise the internal Flash memory and the contents of an inserted SD card form two separate directory trees, but I'd have liked the D2 to be smart enough to present the contents of both to the user as a single entity. If you do keep music on an SD card, to access it you have to navigate up to the D2's root directory, 'D2', then down through the SD card's folder structure, contained in a folder called 'D2 EXT'.
This is really the only area where the D2 feels like an Asian music player of yore. Well, that and the spartan documentation.
Which is a shame given how much the D2 costs. I've seen the player listed at £150-180. A 4GB iPod Nano costs £129 or £169 for an 8GB model. Neither plays video of course, but then the 30GB 5G iPod, which does, is only £189. Of course, the D2 packs in plenty of sound enhancement technology for the money, but I suspect most users will value storage capacity over such tweaks any day.
Cowon's D2 has the most stylish yet functional user interfaces I've seen on a mobile device and one that makes the most of the gorgeous screen it's display on. The battery life's fantastic, and so is the scope for sound enhancement the D2 includes. The only problem is the price which is as hefty as the D2 is lithe.
Sponsored: Flash storage buyer's guide