Cowon iAudio O2 personal media player
Cowon A3 with SSD instead of HDD
Review It's no secret that Cowon's A3 PMP is favoured by Vulture Central. The comprehensive codec and file support, superb 800 x 480 screen and twitproof controls make it a hard device to not like.
Cowon's O2: plugs the gaps in the A3?
Of course, that's not to say it's perfect. It could do with being both smaller and lighter, and it would be better if it had a more robust solid-state drive rather than an HDD. Memory expansion would be nice too.
So that would be the new Cowon O2, then.
Despite having a larger screen – 4.3in corner to corner rather than the A3's 4in – the O2 is altogether a less lardy bit of kit. At 205g and 120 x 73.5 x 18mm it's still not remotely as portable as a Cowon S9 or iPod Touch but it won't have you listing to one side as if you have an A3 or an Archos 5 in your pocket.
Though its exterior is made entirely of plastic, the O2 nevertheless feels both solid and robust, and in black looks the business. Exterior controls and ports are limited to a volume rocker on the top, an on/off/lock slider on the right, and a 3.5mm jack and mains power plug - Cowon supplies a mains adaptor though you can also recharge using a USB cable - on the left.
Also on the left-hand side is a fold-down panel that conceals a mini USB port and an SD card slot.
Apart from the volume, all other controls are executed using the resistive touchscreen. The O2's basic menu appearance and structure will be familiar to anyone who has ever used an A3, the only real difference being that navigation is now accomplished by touch rather than by using the A3's joystick.
Controlled by touchscreen
Truth be told, there is nothing really all that clever or new about the touchscreen UI.
Another Cowon pants-device?
I own a A3 and I know when I've been 'done'.
The so called HD-TV side of things doesn't work right. It's a hardware Codec device so relies on firmware updates to get around the bugs in the hardware.
Pity Cowon dropped the A3 like a hot potato as soon as it realised that it couldn't get around the faults in the Texas Instruments hardware.
It's marketing dept. claimed far too much for this device and the News media believed it could do what they claimed without actually testing it.
Cowon soon dropped DVD support and despite people asking the site for support and news, they refuse to talk to serious journalists who've actually test the device and its claims out.
Its other claim about having user playlists got shot down as it only has one playlist - yes one.
And you can't make your own and import it to the device.
Buying a Korean product that has no English support is always going to be difficult here in the EU. But there is a decent Cowon user support forum online so that helps at least the poor consumer who feel trapped.
Quite how Cowon can think it can get away with bringing out a product that is really a beta and abandon it a few months later is beyond me.
This new device will be just the same. 3 months after its release, the company will finish with it and its customers will be similarly upset.
Why it can't listen to its EU customers is bizarre.
How on earth does this get 80%?
For about a tenner more than the 16Gb model you can get an iPod Touch 16Gb which *does* do playlists, tag support and gapless playback, with a better or equivalent screen, plus the web browser/email/zillions of apps available from the App Store. Sure it's missing support for the more obscure codecs and you need to use iTunes (which I know some people loathe with a vengeance, why I don't know, unless you're on Linux). But for smoother, sleeker, more capable and more versatile I can live with that.
And no I don't have a Touch... I have an iPhone 16Gb, same thing with a phone built in for (in my case) £159. That's £40 less than this turkey. And yes I know I have to pay for the contract, before anyone starts shouting.
Can't wait for the flames telling me that Apple kit is overpriced...
Quite nice, but...
This is 2009, FFS. No ID3 tag support? Album art has to be separate? No excuse: it plays music, therefore it is a music player. The thing is called iAudio, not iVideo, by the way... Even my still-faithfully-going-but-starting-to-fall-apart first generation iPod nano has no trouble with those things, how hard can it be.
Do I hear the frantic scrabbling of greedy corporate lawyers (the same breed of "people" that got us into the present recession) at a certain mobile phone company.....
that's a new one on me. very Karl Barth.