Dear Cowon, Don’t Release S9 Until Firmware is Stable

cowon firmware Dear Cowon, Don’t Release S9 Until Firmware is Stable

Cowon has always had a strong underground following for its very clean sound and great support for audio codecs. However, this underground support is slipping due to very poorly written firmware. Even in the past being a Cowon user have been bothered by numerous buggy and botched firmwares. I in fact have bricked an i7 as well as U3- bricked to the point of having to be returned to the manufacture to be fixed. Both of these happened while upgrading firmwares.

Some of these issues were also seen with the very popular D2. This player was put on our top 5 players of 2008, but only after a year and a half of frustrating firmware updates finally making it stable. One of the issues with the D2 was giving additional features priority before bugs. For instance, a scientific calculator was added before core audio bugs were fixed.

This brings us to the O2. This PMP has been highly anticipated and hit the market about a month ago. But when released and even today in the latest beta firmware, advertised features are still not working. I was frustrated with the O2 as seen in my preview write up but Martin our headphone editor and long time Cowon fan is disheartened and downright angry with this latest O2 release. And he should be giving that Cowon has had plenty of time to fix various issues over the last few years with the A2, A3, D2, ect. In his forum thread “Things I hate about the O2”, other users share our frustration. One user didn’t even own his O2 for more than 24 hours before returning.

The S9 hardware exists in the confines of Cowon. But it appears that firmware keeps this player from hitting the market and it should. If the S9 is released with an unstable firmware it will be another “straw to break the camel’s back” to even more long time Cowon enthusiasts. So in order to succeed, at least in the American and EU market, the S9 needs to be stable at release. Other brands are surpassing Cowon in sound quality, adding the more exotic audio codecs, and already have great UIs, so advantages are being lost.

Cowon, we love you, but you need to be better if you want to continue to reign even in the enthusiast market. You are losing support from your most hardcore fans. Hardware is solid, we have few complains about that, but its imperative that you improve your firmware and the process in which it gets updated. Hiring a user interface expert would also be a good idea.

Companies that are succeeding are the ones that are listening, I see this first hand. We lend a hand and interact with SanDisk, Microsoft, and Samsung in providing valuable user feedback to improve their products. We can and would love to help you too.



no9 on December 7, 2008 2:59 PM

I recommend the Cowon D2 daily to people who are looking for a great MP3 player. I would love to be able to have the same confidence in Cowons future releases, but it seems that their firmware is getting to be the worst in the business. We would all love to see a Cowon product that is finished and can do all the things that it says it can do on the spec sheets.

keal on December 7, 2008 4:03 PM

Does Cowon even care about countries outside of Korea? They create players with all kinds of goodies, like dictionaries, DMB, DAB… then strip it down when exporting to the U.S. The O2 is a good example of a ‘castrated’ player. What’s left is a cruddy-sounding, bug-laden video player with a horrible UI. How can a new player be inferior to its predecessor – in this case, the D2? The O2 should have just stayed in Korea.Cowon’s lost their marbles.

Jessipoo on December 7, 2008 4:03 PM

I didn’t know that the ABI communicated with those companies.. I think that feedback is extremely useful. It gives the companies firsthand what the users want and demand. Cowon should definitely listen if they don’t want to go.. bankrupt. The DAP world is fierce and competitive and Cowon is starting to fall (IMO)

Grahm on December 7, 2008 4:14 PM

@keal “Does Cowon even care about countries outside of Korea?” I think that is a very good point. I am under the assumption that the US makes up a small percentage of their overall sales, so in all honesty, it might not be worth their time to listen to the US market, i don’t know.User interfaces and acceptable levels of difficulty between US and Asian markets are very different. So perhaps fixing problem for the US may “break” something in Asian markets. I know that some console games’ controller setting defaults are set differently for Asian vs US markets. This because they have different expectations of correct or acceptable.

Joe on December 7, 2008 4:36 PM

Cowon is infamous for this. I hate Apple for its snotty attitude, but if they supported vorbis, I’d buy one.I’m not sure how well the Nokia tablets play video, but those people at Core Codec sure know how to make a very good video player for Palm, WM and others. The A3 is great for FLAC audio recording, and I guess the bugs have been finally worked out.Still, I’m not sure why Cowon is having such a hard time. The O2 shares the same chip. Oh well. The only thing the D2 needs perhaps is a better resume function, allow picking of files by buttons on the screen with say, “abc” “def” on them, and setting the timeout while browsing to something much higher.

pudsey456 on December 8, 2008 1:21 AM

I know I’m going to get blasted for saying this, but it’s the consumers who give these companies (mainly Korean) the wiggle room to let these things happen, and I think people should’ve started getting angry a very long time ago.With my personal ethos, I’m always surprised that any company delivers a product with unnecessary bugs they could’ve sorted out before release. In this matter I would side with Sony; while they don’t hand out much in extra features, the Walkman products mostly function great out of the box, and bugfixes are sparse. Sony has done this update business before (the Vaio Pocket’s initial firmware was only wrapped up the day before launch, it was reportedly quite buggy), but I think they learned the hard way to not do this, and it’s also a (admittedly old-school) Japanese culture thing – don’t sell people things that break, it’s rude.The flipside of the same coin is adding features with firmware updates. The same practice of progressively giving people things that could’ve been there at launch, it’s just that they’re handing out features instead of bugfixes.You might think it’s a good thing, but why make us wait for features? I don’t think it’s a logically sound practice from the standpoint of people paying for these products.But I kid you not, I complained about the Blue Wave thing, and people ask me why it’s a bad thing. If you buy a car and don’t mind a sunroof suddenly show up on the car 9 months into your ownership, I guess it’s not a bad thing then?

daglesj on December 8, 2008 8:51 PM

Crappy firmware is a growing trend not only in small media devices but also motherboards and others. Anandtech has just run an article about the current crop of toprange motherboards and every one of them had bad BIOS code that meant even basic features didnt work. They are now on way to naming and shaming to try to make the manufacturets release competant code.Seems like no one in Korea can write decent firmwares anymore.

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