To start with, the accelerometer is perfectly calibrated. Flip the S9 over to the left or right and the screen immediately and quickly re-orientates itself. Secondly, the resistive screen – you can use it with your gloves on while iPod owners get frostbite - reacts promptly and accurately to both taps and swipes. As most menu list commands require a double-tap, this is handy. The S9 seldom mistakes a tap for a swipe, or vice versa.
The circular FM radio tuning dial is a nice design feature and a good example of how well the touchscreen functions. Just circle your finger back and forth slowly or quickly to move around the dial or if that isn't quick enough, just tap the relevant part of the the frequency bar. The radio isn't RDS but it has a good auto-scan facility and you can allocate up to 24 station pre-sets.
The touchscreen UI's most obvious trait is its speed. As per the iPod Touch, there's no sense of pause or hesitancy in the execution of any commands. The graphics are a tad 'iPod knock-off' - and not as good - but no less attractive for that.
Navigating around the S9 is straightforward, the main menu consisting of ten icons that take you to all the usual places: video, music, recordings, settings and the like. Above it sits a Touch-style status bar in which you'll find volume- and battery-level readouts, and the current time. At the bottom of the screen is a short bar that contains two to five icons relevant to the content.
Once into your media, things get a little more interesting. By using a slide bar at the bottom of the screen, for instance, you can zoom in and out to make menu listings' text size – and the resultant 'tap' area - bigger or smaller. The same control also lets you zoom in and out on your JPEG photos.
Rocker controls on top
If you tap the 'flip' button on the menu bar, it reveals a second bank of controls. This is especially handy in the video player as it lets you access the controls for setting bookmarks, changing aspect ratio and taking screen grabs without having to dig about in the menu structure.
No gapless = insta-fail
The lack of gapless is a deal breaker for someone who listens to dj mix compilations a lot.
Also lack of Wi-Fi. If you are aiming at iPod's you need to aim a LOT higher.
> we were left wondering why Apple alone seem to understand the value of gapless playback
well originally Apple didn't understand gapless but Sony *did*. The original ATRAC "network walkmans" (like my HD3) certainly did but original iPod's didn't - that's one of the reasons why I discarded iPod as an option.
Sadly, in the new "MP3" incarnations Sony appear to have dropped gapless + ATRAC is no more. So when/if I come to replace the HD3 looks like Sony may be much less attractive and iTouch is a option again (after all,. as I'm going to have to rerip all my CDs then there's no benefit of sticking with Sony)
I'll be getting one. My D2 is getting a tad tired, so yay for upgrade time. Only drawback is no SDHC slot, so I'll wait for the 32GB.
If I wanted wifi and email on a device, I'd get a PDA or a smartphone. This is a music player, not a communications device. If you're into device convergence, great, get the iPhone or a Sony Ericsson Walkman jobbie.
While I've had my niggles with Cowon firmware as well - yes, OGG playback in order is somewhat annoying - at least they do regular firmware releases. I do hope the release firmware on this one is decent. I don't use playlists - I use folders - but you can create them using a PC media manager when the device is in MTP mode.
The comparison with Honda Legends and BMWs is just ridiculous. The Cowon devices are capable of so much more than iPods, and have much better sound. Now they've solved the "sexiness" quotient, I think we do have an iPod-beater on our hands.
Final note, the device works great with all the major OSes. I use Linux mainly at home; it's all good with Amarok and the usual media players.