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Hardware

Cowon iAudio S9 PMP

Step forward, first real iPod Touch beater

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.

Cowon iAudio S9

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.

Cowon iAudio S9

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.

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