Cowon’s latest PMP, the O2, sits nicely in between the full blown A3 PMP and the popular flash based D2. Though I think this will eventually replace the Ax PMP line since Cowon is careful not to cannibalize their other products. This is the reason they did not release an X7, because the D2 would take sales from an X7.
If the O2 is indeed replacing the Ax series line up, it’s not such a bad thing. Even though the screen resolution is higher on the A3, 800×480 as opposed to the O2’s 480×272, it does have a bigger screen (O2 = 4.3” & A3 = 4.0”) and is much more portable. You can see in the photos below, the O2 is not that much bigger than the X5 or the Zune.
We will have a full abi review for your soon, but in the mean time here are some pics and initial impressions.
Build Quality: Solid and well build, but sounds a bit hollow when you tap on the back.
Screen: Its obviously weaker when you compare it to the A3 or Archos 5’s 800×480, but I feel the size gain, portability, and cost reduction is better than the higher resolution.
Touch screen: Unresponsive. Sometimes buttons look and sound like they were pressed but nothing happens. This could possibly be fixed in the future with firmware updates. Similar thing happens with the volume button- if pressed to rapidly, the buttons don’t respond.
Sound quality: As expected, very good, warm, typical Cowon. Though it does have similar problems as the D2 has at higher volumes with enhancements on, it tends to get a bit raggedy.
Video playback: This varied widely. It seems the O2 is very picky about how the video is encoded. Common XviD torrents looked a little choppy and longer files had syncing issues- though some 30fps videos looked incredible. I was able to play MVK files encoded with XviD and MP3, but I could not get a single 720p file in any format to play and 720p is advertised as supported.
My initial overall impression is that this is a PMP for the enthusiast and Cowon fan. I say this mainly because of the rocky firmware updates ahead for the O2 as seen in past Cowon products. For the enthusiasts and fans who were planning on purchasing, wait and see how the firmware progresses. $300 is a bit hard to choke down for a player with unfinished firmware and the lack of advertised 720p playback.
Update:I just upgraded to 1.11 firmware and some of the issues with the touch seem to be better. Also DivX/XviD playback is much more smooth. I’s still having troubles with video out and 720p content still does not play. I think it will be a solid PMP once firmware bugs get fixed- but that could take many months. So tune into the Cowon o2 Forum for updates. Also Martin will be doing the review soon, so if you have any questions about the O2, check out this thread.