R7: Cowon, what were you thinking?

cowon r7 R7: Cowon, what were you thinking?

Cowon Korea just announced the R7, a “Full HD Super PMP”, which is more of a 7″ tablet without connectivity. At 800×480 pixel it sports quite low resolution for that screen size, but – as far as I can interpret the Korean specs sheet – it should have excellent battery life: 65 hours for audio, 10 for video. As is usually the case with Cowon, the R7 supports every audio and video format known to man (including MKV, TS, 3GP, APE, Musepack, Wavpack, True Audio), and of course 1080p playback as well. Judging by the specs, it seems this one doesn’t support BBE sound enhancements for videos, only for audio – like the V5 and O2 before it. It comes in respectable sizes up to 64GB, sports a MicroSDHC slot, and an HDMI output.

Here’s the real zinger, however: it runs on Windows CE 6.0. This is not a joke. While the rest of the planet strives to implement WP 7 Mango (as far as Microsoft’s mobile OS goes), Android, or iOS, Cowon took a step back to the good old days of CE 6, as already found in their rather underwhelming V5 PMP of last year. Actually, the R7 is just a V5 with a bigger screen (at the same resolution).

It is even more bewildering, considering Cowon already have an Android device on the market with the D3, offering a more modern,  more widely used, and arguably better operating system than on the R7. I definitely would have expected them to release an Android tablet, not a WinCE one. Then again, the R7 has no Wi-Fi connectivity, so it might not matter after all. Either way, consider me once again baffled about Cowon’s decisions. Once again it seems like the advancements in portable device design seen in the last few years went past Cowon.

[Cowon Korea product page via iAudiophile]


Marvin the Martian on December 3, 2011 9:01 PM

WTF, indeed….

sideways on December 3, 2011 9:17 PM


Ed Summers on December 3, 2011 9:46 PM

I’ve said this before, its like cowon has two seperate teams when making PMP’s and Mp3 players, the PMP guys are clueless lol.

tds101 on December 3, 2011 10:21 PM

Heh,…Windows CE 6.0,…funny stuff here.

Uber-Ne on December 4, 2011 3:53 AM

Whats the point of having a 7 inch tablet if it doesnt have Wifi?

Lagoo56 on December 4, 2011 6:48 AM

Ah I see a pattern here. I’m assuming Cowon will make a 10 inch tablet without wifi next lol Sure I could imagine myself using this while in bed,but why not just buy an Android tablet instead?

bob on December 4, 2011 11:45 AM

That sounds like just the sort of thing I’d want after I am left with severe brain damage. Just got to wait for the brain damage now.

idunnosoSTFU on December 4, 2011 1:26 PM

Why Cowon, why… -__- If they would’ve introduce a proper tablet with all the latest hardware, I would’ve bought it without any doubts.

t4b on December 4, 2011 4:33 PM

are they serious?!
one of the best companies of one of the most modern and advanced nation is realeasing this…

make an android tablet with a focus on media instead… or release an android app with BBE…

Soren Siim on December 5, 2011 10:33 AM

Somebody should knight all the Cowon engieneers and shoot every single of their executives in the face, point blank, with a shotgun.

They make awesome hardware and terrible decisions. Just about every single player has it’s own interface and only the J3 has a good one. Come to think of it, line up their GUI designers next to the executives. Guys like Kizune has shown how awesome the interfaces can be, but Cowon keeps fucking it up. And now this, Win CE 6.0… Damn Cowon, are you on crack? How stoned does one have to be to make that seem like a good idea?

Mallory on December 6, 2011 1:50 AM

Stop being haters you lot. This is better than the D3 and iPhone 4S and Galaxy S put together. The device Steve Jobs always wanted to do but never got to complete. The device “golden ears” will use to wipe out Apple’s market cap. I’m buying ten.

Soren Siim on December 7, 2011 10:14 AM

Mallory, my sarcam meter is off the charts! Guess it’s malfunctioning…

rockbox freak on December 9, 2011 5:42 AM

Is cowon and sandisk going to be “the new iriver”? Glorious past ,and wrong recent present.Iriver didn´t a real upgrading since great iriver clix2.
Cowon stuck since D2 ,only small enhancements (gapless is great but rockbox on a sansa,too and my s9 sounds dirty compared to cowon u5 and iaudiou3)
Maybe the same on sansa with the fuze+ #?*@! Interface/keys and the clipzip is basically clip+ with crappy color screen and better fm tuner and still NOT real gapless with official firmware

rockbox freak on December 9, 2011 5:49 AM

i only add to my previous post that i still prefer my “old” rockboxed fuzev2 and itś nice touch physical keys…

al luna on December 10, 2011 8:51 PM

Is this Cowon’s way of getting rid of inventory or DOA designs? How hard is it, to pick up the phone and ask the audio people what they’re working on? How can they put out a J3 and turn around with this?

The Resistance on December 11, 2011 4:12 PM

You’re all exaggerating wildly. It’s sad to see the Cowon hate that’s been going around ABI lately. The only strange thing about the R7, in my opinion, is the lack of Wi-Fi – but I’ve got my D3 for that, so no problem there. Cowon will probably release a R7W version with Wi-Fi in the future, just like they did with the V5.
Just calm down already. The J3, X7, D3, C2 and i10 are all great players, yet only the J3 is ever mentioned on this forum. Cowon may seem a little eccentric compared to western mainstream brands like Apple and Samsung, but they’re doing their thing and they’re doing it exceedingly well as of late.

The Resistance on December 11, 2011 4:17 PM

This thing is beautiful! Too bad it doesn’t run Android … but if the price is right, I might just get one anyway.

Martin Sägmüller on December 11, 2011 5:25 PM

The Resistance, you do know that Samsung is from the same country as Cowon?

The Resistance on December 14, 2011 6:00 PM

I do indeed. Maybe that was an unfortunate way of putting it. However, I think it is quite obvious that this is not meant to compete with something like the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Personally, I feel confident Cowon will release more (and more ‘competent’, if you will) Android devices in the future,
Also, Windows CE is not so ancient as the article makes it seem. It is the same ‘operating system’ the Zune HD was running, and while it is not in any way an Android competitor, it is quite capable of running a media player, as anyone who have used the Zune HD will be able to tell you.
In no way is the R7 an indication that Cowon is incapable of or unwilling to produce media players with a more open software architecture. I find it unfair that it is treated as such.

Zafar on December 30, 2011 2:41 AM

Actually, being Win CE, it might just be able to support a powered USB Dacs such as the iBasso D-zero. IF it truely can, thats a major win!

Martin Sägmüller on December 31, 2011 7:08 PM

If the R7 is anything like Cowon’s former WinCE device, the V5, then it won’t even be able to run most apps since vital system components are missing. They used a seriously crippled WinCE install on that one, almost totally useless, besides running Notepad.

Vahid on January 14, 2012 2:10 PM

cowon is big winner with products like D2, C2, I9 – S9 & J3 and these player have great audio quality, long time playback, a lot of audio settings & also have very good performance, BBE and EQ batch even in video mode and its so interesting have customizable audio at video mode but cowon V5 with CE windows have not Cowon BBE function, and R7 without BBE is not a big winner product line, Iriver P8 have R7 video playback performance (smooth H264 VC-1 1080P playback and HDMI output) P8 have 5″ screen can be feet in must pocket, although due to edge led technology P8 screen have a little low view angle but totally is a valuable PMP.

my guide for screen size:
about 3.3″ wide (cowon S9,J3) good for watching a few music video clips and not usable for prolong cinema movies, this size is perfect for micro PMPs that been using for mixed music & video purpose but 2.5″ 4:3 (D2 screen) is enough for audio purpose and wide display is not essentially good for only music purpose.

between 4 to 5″ wide very good for watching music videos in outdoor especially at car or metro (best on the move!!!) but just usable for prolong cinema movies and it is so hard watching complete cinema movie at this size maybe need Eagle eyes, the big advantage of this size is probability, also can be feet extremely well in hands like a rock!
device with bigger than 4 to 5″ wide display can not been feet in common pockets (why advance smart phones not have bigger screen than about 4 to 5″)

7″ is idle size (best size) for Music Videos and also good for prolong cinema movies, have minimum eyestrain compared to lower screen size, but not portable in the pocket and good for home or work usage at a static location.

bigger screen like 10″ is effective just for watching prolong cinema movies and you can go for a full HD 60″ Plasma or full LED back light LCD inside a dark room for blueray movies.

Darrell on February 18, 2012 3:17 PM

It comes with a stylus so I they obviously went with a resistive screen. Again…
I really like this but why should I get this versus say an Asus Transformer Prime? The Cowown has better SQ and is available with 64GB of on board storage but that’s really all it has going for it. As long as the thing runs smoothly I couldn’t care less about it using Windows CE though.
If they had used a higher quality & higher resolution capacitive touch screen I would have been a lot more interested.
I also just realized that once again they didn’t provide any kind of silo to store the stylus. My O2 at least had holes in one corner that I could tie a lanyard through to hold a stylus.

Darrell on February 18, 2012 3:24 PM

It took 12 seconds to open the pictures folder. Cowon you have GOT to be kidding me.
And he went out of his way to focus on everything BUT the video & audio player interfaces. pas ,Pass ,PASS. If I get another Cowon looks like it’ll be the Z2 or maybe a J3. But I’m really starting to see an Asus Transformer Prime & a decent headphone amp in my future.

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