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Cowon iAudio S9 PMP

Step forward, first real iPod Touch beater

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Grumbles? Of the 15 albums we loaded onto the Cowon, one simply would not appear in the correct running order – though it was beyond us to fathom in what order the S9 was rendering it, certainly wasn't file size or alphabetical. And the PMP had an annoying habit of switching itself off when we unplugged it from a computer.

Cowon iAudio S9

The microphone's on the back, above the - ahem - reset button

Currently, the S9 is only available in the UK in 8 and 16GB flavours but hopefully a 32GB version will be along in the not too distant as one is currently listed on Cowon's Korean website.

For those interested, our review device was running firmware version 2.02. Cowon's US site is already hosting version 2.05 but as the updates seemed rather peripheral, and as our S9 worked just fine, we didn't install the update.

A final mention in dispatches for the excellent user guide, Cowon resisting the now all too common temptation to include only a half-baked “quick start guide” and making its customers print off a PDF file of the full manual.

Verdict

Should you buy an S9 instead of an iPod Touch? If you want to play AVI, Flac or Ogg files then clearly the answer's yes. If you want to browse the web and play H.264 videos then no, the Touch is what you need. Still, despite the slightly smaller screen and lower resolution, the S9 is the better video player and it pumps out audio of an equally high quality. Unless you are irrecoverably wedded to all things iPod and iTunes and want the Touch's games and Wi-Fi, the S9 is certainly worth a good long look. ®

Thanks to Advanced MP3 Players for lending us the S9.

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Cowon iAudio S9 PMP

The S9 the iPod Touch a very, very good run for its money, thanks to a super screen and great format support.
Price: £169 (8GB) £199 (16GB) TBC (32GB) RRP

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