Something we do really applaud Cowon for is the ability to access the JetEffect settings directly from the Now Playing screen and to change settings without any interruption to the music whatsoever.
A quick romp through Cosi Fan Tutte was equally enjoyable, though as ever we were left wondering why Apple alone seem to understand the value of gapless playback.
The UI's smooth - if a little Touch-like
File support has always been a Cowon strong suit and when we first saw the S9's specs on Cowon's Korean website we were suitably impressed, the only obvious thing missing being AAC audio. What you get out of the box is MP3, Flac, Ogg, WAV and APE audio, AVI – Xvid, DivX – and WMV video along with JPEG and TXT. Not bad, but H.264 would be handy. Fingers crossed these will turn up in a firmware update. Of course, the iPod Touch is hardly bulging at the seams with supported codecs.
The S9 comes equipped with A2DP stereo Bluetooth tech, a voice recorder, a Flash player and the ability to record FM radio off air. The voice recorder encodes files in WMA format. Get hold of the relevant USB cables and the S9 will also record line-in audio and pump out content to your TV – PAL or NTSC.
Cowon's claims for the S9's battery life are nothing if not ambitious - 11 hours of video and 55 of audio – but proved remarkably accurate. We got just under ten hours on the video front and stopped worrying about the audio when we got to 45 hours. You recharge the battery using the USB cable.
Neat UI elements include the rotating FM tuner dial
The S9 can be set to act as either an MSC or MTP device and as the former it showed up without fault on both a MacBook Pro and Linux-runing Acer Aspire One.
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?