External controls on the Q5 are limited to the volume and on/off switches, everything else being managed by the touchscreen UI. After our experiences with the Archos 705's 'push' screen we were relieved to find that the Q5 has a solid-feeling screen surface, and that a simple tap, or sometimes a double-tap, successfully got things going.
There is a fly in the UI ointment, however, and it's a big one. On first powering up the Q5 you come face to face with its underlying operating system, Windows CE 5.0. Oh dear. Now we are sure CE has its place in the overall scheme of things, but sure as night follows day this ain't it. It presents small icons, a horribly dated graphic design and seems about as user friendly as a Babbage Difference Engine. The only good thing about it is that once you've set the Q5 up with the correct time, date and other general preferences you don't have to do much too else with it, at least insofar as media control is concerned.
Available in 40GB or 60GB, wrapped up in a portable, hard-wearing metal case
The unfathomable fiddlyness of CE means Cowon bundles the Q5 with a retractable stylus. This also comes in handy for web browsing, because the virtual keyboard can only be rendered in two sizes: too small and much too small. The keyboard often has to be manually launched by tapping a farcically small icon on the task bar.
One quick piece of advice that should stop new users going round the bend: make sure the very first thing you do when you open the box is tap the 'Start' command at the bottom left, tap 'Settings' and then open the 'Taskbar and Start Menu' option, and set the task bar to 'always on top'. If you don't do this then the web browser won't fit the screen properly and you won't be able to launch the virtual keyboard at all.
Fire up the Cowon Launcher and things get a lot better as you are presented with a bespoke UI that is described by Cowon as "Wing Click" - a reasonable enough description as that is where the controls sit, on the wings, a bit like Stanley Matthews.
No thanks Cowon.
I'll stick with my PSP and multiple memory sticks.
I know the PSP doesn't play formats this beast does, and is lacking in total capacity and screen size, but whats the point hauling that block of resin around when you can slide a nice slim n lite PSP into your trouser pocket + four 8Gb Mem sticks.
The cost of a PSP and four 8Gb memory sticks STILL come to less wonga than this.
Oh Noes, but the PSP has a smaller screen! I think I'll live.
Oh and the PSP has a removable battery.
Needs better software
Sound to me like the problem is the software - it's got most of the hardware it needs, but they've crippled it with a crappy OS and poor drivers for the hardware.
Now if I could get Linux to run on it...
But then, it's also a bit expensive - An EeePC gets a similar screen and a proper keyboard for less money: for the extra cash you could add some USB flash sticks to make up the storage deficiency...
Just how old is the reviewer..?
Knowing Cowon they will address any limitations in future firmware. I had one of their mp3 players and it had regular updates to the firmware, improvements and new features as well as big fixes.