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Cowon Q5W media player

The killer PMP/internet tablet combo?

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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.

COWON Q5W PMP/internet tablet

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.

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