Simply put the Cowon V5 is a really nice upgrade to the O2. The V5’s form factor is similar to O2 but it’s a bit thinner and it feels sturdier. Not that the O2 had a bad build quality, but the V5 feels more dense and less hollow compared to the V5- plastic, buttons, and screen remain more or less identical.
However, the big news is how well it handles 720p content and its robust HDMI and component out video out. The O2 worked, but it wasn’t as smooth as the V5 and there were always issues with trying to get the screen sized right for the TV you plugged it into. The V5 is straight forward HDMI plug and play with the optional cable. This is no longer a sketchy dongle (lol), it’s a rather robust proprietary plug on the player itself, rather than micro-usb-ish plug seen on other Cowon players.
What is intriguing to me is how Cowon is not shy to hide the Windows CE 6.0 OS, in fact you can launch Windows Explorer from the Utilities menu or even close the Cowon UI and just use it as a Windows CE device. I don’t know what this means exactly for customization, pardon my ignorance of embedded OSes, but perhaps you can code your own UI on top of great sounding Cowon hardware. The possibilities could be endless. In fact Martin states on IRC: “[17:57]
Not that the current UI is bad, but it’s not as finger friendly as I would like to see. You can completely operate the V5 with your finger, but some of the buttons get pretty small. If someone were to port the S9 or the J3 UI to the V5 I think it would be a pretty killer PMP.
Below is a video showing the basics and some photos, I will be passing the V5 off to Martin for a full review since he wrote the in-depth O2 review. Stay tuned for more on the V5.