Unlike some Cowon PMPs, the X7 supports ID3 and Vorbis Comment tagging so you are not stuck with a simple folder view, though this is an option.
Video controls are comprehensive
Look in the menu and you will find a heading for playlists but if you can work out how to sync an MTP playlist to the X7 you are a better man than I. On a happier note, the X7 will handle DRM-protected video files, so BBC iPlayer downloads can be watched on the move.
Incidentally, this review was conducted using the latest firmware, 2.06, which apparently improves gapless playback. Albums ripped sans gaps using winLAME certainly played back well enough though iTunes gapless albums weren't recognized as such.
Cowon's JetEffect 3.0/BBE+ sound modification suite continues to impress me but now with 35 pre-defined and four user presets the system is in danger of overkill. It's like getting into a car and finding a 12-speed gearbox - too much choice!
Zune inspiration revealed?
That said, ten minutes with the user-definables left me with one profile perfectly suited to rock and one to classical, and that's really all I need. The several earphone-optimised sound profiles will keep most people happy. JetEffect also works with, and can be accessed directly from, the video playback screen, which is handy.
Next page: Extremely long runner
I don't doubt Cowon's build quality is great - and the battery life is beyond excellent, but you can get far more capable and cheaper PMPs from China. Obviously if you buy a cheap no-name unit then you get what you pay for (most of these are done in a single production run by an anonymous factory; good luck getting support!), but there's a growing number of established Chinese manufacturers who produce devices which are both cheap and well built.
F'instance: I picked up the Ainol V8000 HDS off Ebay (from a UK seller) about four months ago. 5" screen, 800*480 resolution, supports virtually every video format under the sun (including MKV and the h264 codec) at resolutions up to 1080p *and* has a mini-HDMI output socket, a micro-SDHC socket and the ability to act as a USB host, meaning you can plug an external 2.5" HDD into it.
Admittedly, it's not touchscreen and doesn't have wifi, but together with a 32GB micro-SD card, it gave me a 40gb PMP, and it comfortably does around 4 hours of movie playback on a single charge. At the time it cost me around £100 (plus the cost of the micro-sd card); now, there's more advanced models available (with touchscreen) and looking at Ebay, there's a V8000HDS available from HK at just £67...
have you tried?
The new range of Archos'? The Archos 43 sounds more like what you're after?
I lust after a 7 but that's another story :D
What kills it for me is...
...you have to be able to look at it to use it. My gen 5.5 iPod can be shoved in a pocket and controlled without looking at it, and even without actually taking it out of my pocket. I can control the volume etc through the fabric of my jacket or my jeans (plus the iSkin it wears).
As I've declared that I will no longer by any Apple product and that I'm in desperate need for better quality audio to feed my AKG K701's* I'm disappointed that Cowon decided to make this a touch screen model.
*when an alternative to my iPod is found the iPod will be relegated to audiobooks.
What is so new here?
Most of the functionality of this device has been available foryears with products from comnpanies like Vosonic.
Ok, so the Vosonic devices don't have touch capability but they have Storage media slots so you can copy all your camera piccies onto the HDD.
I have a VP5500 with a 320Gb 2.5HDD inside.
Two of these beauties means I don't always have to take a laptop on a shoot.
Be careful with OSX
The 7 days I did have my Cowon was amazing, really smooth O/S, fantastic codec support including DivX and FLAC. The features they had built in were stunning, the touch screen was so responsive and the sound from the Cowon was out of this world, beat the crap out of iPod piss-poor excuse for audio. I was using a pair of Etymotic Research ER4Ps, the sound was like nothing I have ever heard before, it was just stunning. Take it from someone who has shot their hearing to pieces at loud metal gigs.
I really liked Cowon stuff but the J3 I had did not play nice with my Mac. OSX would simply see the FAT32 filesystem, write to it and corrupt it, the J3 would see the corrupt files and format itself wiping out my media. It is an acknowledged problem by Cowon when trying to use some Cowon units with OSX, you can get problems.
When Cowon and OSX play nice together, I will certainly go back to Cowon.