I have never been a strong supporter of the screenless MP3 player. It is a niche product for those who want to just throw some tunes on a player and hit shuffle and I never really fell into this scenario. However, I will admit, I had a great time showing off this player because of its slick, modern, and ambiguous design.
Spoiler alert! This is the best MP3 player without a screen on the market. Read on to find out why.
- Quick Look
- Capacities: 2GB / 4GB
- MSRP: ? / $65 (check latest price)
- Dimensions: 1.04 x 2.52 x 0.30 inches
- Weight: 0.59 oz
- Sound Enhancements: BBE, BBE ViVa, BBE ViVa 2, BBE Mach3Bass, BBE MP, BBE Headphone 1, BBE Headphone 2, and BBE Headphone 3
- Data Transfer: MSC via 4-pole to USB cable
- Battery Life: 11 Hrs. (charge time 1.5 hrs)
- Audio Support: MP3, WMA, FLAC, OGG, Wav
In the Box / Accessories
The Cowon E2 comes with headphones and a USB to 4-pin photo plug that allows you to charge and transfer content to the player. As far as accessories, there are none, but at this point the player itself becomes the accessory. I attached the E2 to my keys and made it my key chain, it looks awesome and I never forget my player when I go to the gym.
The disappointing thing here thought is that Cowon makes a plethora of colors, but only sells (for now) the black one in the US.
Design / Build
Cowon has made some huge strides in designs in recent players since the near steampunk design of the beloved X5. The E2 continues this trend with an ultra-modern minimalistic design. While using the player as a key chain, it drew attention and was a constant conversation starter.
The player is made of a hard semi-gloss plastic with a solid metal ring at the top. Buttons have good tactile feedback and are separated enough for larger fingers. Overall the E2 has a high end build quality with a design to match.
The player is controlled with 6 buttons, three located on each side of the player. On the right are the power and skip/scan buttons. On the other side is the volume control and BBE/Shuffle button (short press for BBE, long press to toggle shuffle all). There are 8 different BBE setting that are announced by a female voice each time you press the button. These setting in addition to normal (off) are: BBE, BBE ViVa, BBE ViVa 2, BBE Mach3Bass, BBE MP, BBE Headphone 1, BBE Headphone 2, and BBE Headphone 3. Similarly the female voice will say “shuffle on” or “shuffle off” for the long press shuffle toggle.
There is one missing, skip by folder. You can skip to the next track all you want but if you have a lot of tracks it might be rough to find what you want. If there was a way to navigate by folder it would make it much easier to find the music you want. It could be implemented one of two ways: a long press on the volume buttons or a combination of skip scan + the power button. Update: Cowon added this feature upon our suggestion.
Being that the only indication the player is on is a tiny led light on the back you might fear accidentally leaving it on and killing the battery, but when you remove the headphones it will automatically shut off. I have already accidently left it on several times, but now when I’m done I made it a habit to remove the headphones.
What is impressive is that this player like the rest of the Cowon fam has an impressive lineup of supported codecs. I may be mistaken but I don’t think there are any other screenless players that support FLAC and OGG.
In terms of sound quality, the E2 is the lagger in the Cowon product line. It is above average but it doesn’t quite have the same dynamics and warmth of its bigger brothers. However, BBE works so well that you won’t be complaining about the marginally inferior sound quality.
To get right to the point, the Cowon iAudio E2 is easily the best screen less MP3 player sold today. The build quality is top notch and while design is always subjective its unique modern design will definitely turn some heads. One of the things that impressed me the most was that Cowon managed to squeeze BBE onto this tiny player along with file support that has never been seen on this type of player. It might fall a little bit short of Cowon’s typically high end sound quality, BBE makes up for it allowing the E2 to run with the rest of the Cowon family of players. There is only one thing missing from this player is the ability to skip by folder. Other than that, in terms of a screenless MP3 player, you will be hard pressed to find something better.
You can pick this player up from Amazon, usually with no taxes and free shipping.