Feeds
85%

Cowon iAudio A3 personal media player

Watch out, Archos

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The on-board FM radio lacks RDS but does come with 25 pre-sets by way of mitigation. The A3 also works as a TV but you need you need to fork out for the add-on DVB-T receiver (for Europe) that clips onto the side of the player. Cowon didn't supply this with the review unit, so we couldn't test the A3's TV credentials, but the screen is certainly up to the job.

For those fond of mucking about with their media as it is playing, both video and audio can be played at anything from half- to double-speed, and while in video mode you can alter the aspect ratio and pan-and-scan settings from 70 per cent to 150 per cent on the hoof. The various audio filters can also be changed while a track is playing. Zooming in on still images is restricted to two levels that look to be about 1.5x and 2x.

Cowon A3

The screen is gorgeous...

A few video functions we found handy were the variable skip setting, the option to change the colour of the subtitles and the screenshot facility. Using the former you can set a tap of the joggle key to skip you either five, ten, 20, 30, 60 seconds or two, five or ten minutes forward or back. Hold the joggle key over hard and you fast forward or rewind at an ever increasing rate of knots. All in all, these features make navigating around video quick, painless and fun.

The audio player comes with eight pre-set EQ ranges - Normal, Jazz, Rock et al - a ten-band graphic equaliser and four variable "JetEffect sound field effects" filters entitled BBE, Mach3Bass, MP3 Enhance and 3D Surround. Leaving the sound settings in 'normal' results in a well balanced, clear and punchy sound with nicely weighted bass and solid vocal lines irrespective of genre, but there is almost endless scope to muck about with the sound should you so desire.

Cowon A3

...but the UI doesn't break new ground

Cowon quotes seven hours of video playback and nine of audio. The best we got was 5.75 hours for video and a touch under eight for audio, both of which are probably within what you could call a reasonable margin of error over the makers claims but nevertheless are hardly impressive, especially the audio playback time which doesn't even stretch to a decent length international air flight. Better pack the iPod as well for any long trips.

As a side note, to charge the player via USB cable, the AV Out/LCD slider has to be in the 'lock' position. If we had read the comprehensive PDF instructions we would have known this before the battery died mid file transfer.

Cowon supplies the A3 with its jetAudio media management software, which is one of the better exemplars of the breed, though frankly seeing as you can pretty much drag and drop darn near any file you want directly into the A3 we suspect it won't get much use.

On a technical note, Cowon regularly posts firmware updates on its website, version 1.18 for the A3 appearing as we wrote this review, along with software for a font maker and a few other bits and bobs. Nice to know they don't just wash their hands once you've parted with your hard earned. And, ahem, don't want an extra 20 bucks just because they've added a few new features.

Verdict

The A3 is a lovely bit of kit offering superb video and audio playback, truly comprehensive file support and a screen so good you will want to marry it and have its children. The only downsides are that to some eyes it looks a little old fashioned and has controls that fail to advance the science of user interfaces. It could do with rather more ooomph in the battery life department. It isn't cheap either but we reckon it is value for money.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

85%

Cowon iAudio A3 personal media player

Not the hight of fashion perhaps but possessed of a truly impressive technical capability...
Price: £269 (30GB) RRP

More from The Register

next story
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Just in case? Unverified 'supersize me' iPhone 6 pics in sneak leak peek
Is bigger necessarily better for the fruity firm's flagship phone?
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.