Cowon iAudio J3 personal media player
A great PMP, remixed
Review When Cowon's iAudio S9 media player landed on my desk back at the end of 2008, it made a favourable impression. While it wasn't a multi-function whizz kid like the iPod Touch, its superb screen and excellent sound quality knocked the Apple into a cocked hat.
Cowon's iAudio J3: new life for an old PMP
Now Cowon has given the S9 a wash and brush up and re-launched it as the J3.
While I had no criticisms of the size or build quality of the S9, the J3 improves both. Gone is the curved back, replaced by an altogether squarer shape which is as wide and as high as its predecessor but nearly 3mm thinner in the middle.
At 76g, the J3 is heaver than the old player but the brushed metal highlights alone are justification for that, and the J3 feels the more solid product. While the S9 had external controls for volume, track selection and play/pause tucked away at the top, the J3 moves them to the more logical and easier-to-access position on the right side of the device.
The most significant physical improvement is the addition of a Micro SD card slot good for cards of up to 32GB in capacity. And, for the first time in a Cowon player, the built-in storage and the memory card are combined into a unified whole when viewed through the main menu.
The player now supports Vorbis Comments as well as ID3 file tags.
A much better design this time round
To be honest, the S9's Flash-based UI had a few rough edges and though the J3's UI is an improvement, parts of it are still a little crude when compared to an iPod Touch and require some exploration of the user manual to master. That said, the capacitive touchscreen reacts smartly and accurately to taps and swipes, and there are some nice home screen layout options.
Cowon and the old guard.....
I only have one problem with any of these media devices / mp3 players. Capacity. I have an old style 60G Creative. Half decent screen, decent format support, decent battery life, decent cable connectivity so I can use it with TV's in hotels and the like...
In fact, since I bought it five years ago, it has been excellent. It is used /every/ day. Literally.
It will only be swapped out when it breaks.
But, if it broke now, I would be stuffed. There are no more 60G players on the market. I don;t particularly want to buy a device and then have extras sd cards laying around, wondering which is which, music, audio books, vids, etc....
I know these flash drive jobbies are nice a quick and quiet and small and light, but where is the volume?
Nah........ until somebody makes something that is at least as good as it was five years ago, then I have to hope my Creative will get me through.
Next week, it will be heading from Brazzaville to Kinshasa!
"Without apps, PMPs are going nowehere."
Eh, no, I think there are probably enough people out there willing to buy a PMP for its media playing capabilities alone. Not all of us want some fantastically converged jack-of-all-trades device.
Besides, Cowon players were running touchscreen Flash apps before Apple even got rid of its boner for the clickwheel. Ok it's Flash, and we all know the limitations there but really, if I want to do something specific with a Cowon the chances are I'm going to be able to do it. So there's no "App Store"? Well that's ok because last time I didn't want my device manufacturer dictating what I can and cannot do with it and I know I'm not the only one.
Really ? Applications.. ?
Is that really the reason Apple are ahead in sales ?
Not tip top marketing ?
Personally, I've never really understood the 'application fascination' for media players.
You put music* on it and listen to it. Isn't that what a media player is ?
What extra application could you /possibly/ want on a media / music player?
Beats me, really does.
* .. and audio books and Ricky Gervais for me!