In landscape mode, the video menu bar has an icon that brings up 12 automatic bookmarks – complete with thumbnails - spaced equally throughout the video, which is very useful if you want to hop about in a long film.
Curvy like a Touch
The S9's bookmark function also works on audio files, a major benefit to anyone with a player full of MP3 audiobooks. In total, the S9 will store 256 individual bookmarks, which seems like plenty to us.
We do have a couple of complaints, if complaint is not too strong a word. First, in most menu lists text appears between square brackets. Now seeing '[Bruce Springsteen]' rather than 'Bruce Springsteen' isn't exactly a deal breaker, but it is a little scruffy.
A few of the touchscreen buttons are a little on the small side, such as the M icon you tap to get back to main menu. That being said, we never actually had a problem hitting the correct icon, so it is more a problem with them looking too small, rather than actually being too small.
Album art only makes an appearance in the Now Playing screen, which seems a bit of a lost opportunity in the post-Cover Flow world. While the S9 lacks any facility to set up on-board playlists, you can easily add tracks – up to 256 of them – to a “favourites list”, and we suspect this will serve most users just as well.
Under a cover a proprietary - fume - USB port
The S9's screen has a strong, if not outstanding, technical specification: 3.3in corner to corner, a resolution of 480 x 272 and a 16m-strong colour palate. However, the numbers are only half the story because the screen is the latest-generation active-matrix OLED, and by heck it makes a difference.
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.
Don't get it
"The crucial difference is that the Touch is part of a large and growing infrastructure that extends its usefulness in ways the Cowon could never do. WiFi (how did Cowon leave that out? Like the BB Storm...), email, web browsing, the App Store (including turning your Touch into a remote media controller), games, calendar, contacts, etc., etc., etc."
Funny, I remember doing all that with my Dell Axim back in '04. And I could even take the battery out of it.
I don't get the whole fanbase thing. What, because Apple says PDA functions are now "cool" suddenly they're a must have on all PMPs? If you want a PDA, why not just buy a real one instead of Apple's crappy iMitation? An iPaq 111 is 299USD + the cost of your favorite size SDHC card. Not that bad compared to the Touch, particularly when you consider all the freeware programs for WM (MiniMo, PuTTY, KoboDL, etc.), the storage expansion, the better format support, the faster processor, and the replaceable battery.
Looks nice. But why buy a Honda Legend when you could get a BMW 5 series for a little bit more?