Archive for Cowon

Cowon iAudio 9+ Spotted – Cowon “Updates” Another DAP

i9+ABI 560x322 Cowon iAudio 9+ Spotted   Cowon Updates Another DAP

Our sharp eyed friends at our sister site iAudiophile have spotted an update to the Cowon iAudio 9. A “+” has been added to the name but there doesn’t seem to be much else that’s been changed.

The main attraction seems to be the maximum capacity has been increased from 16 to 32 GB. There’s also a larger external speaker and the JetEffects have been updated to 5.0. After that it doesn’t seem most current owners would notice a difference.

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Cowon D20: back to 2006…

D20 b 560x560 Cowon D20: back to 2006...

We were used to Cowon not innovating for almost 2 years now but now we’ll have to deal with Cowon re-releasing old players. Indeed, after the D2 in 2006 and the D2+ in 2009, here is the D20 in 2013! Is this the D2+ Plus?

The recipe is easy: take a D2+, keep exactly the same outdated design, just upgrade the CPU and improve battery life. Don’t forget to update it with the terrible C2 UI and there you have it, a fresh new product for almost no cost!

This is really disappointing in 2013. Not to mention the outdated 2.5″ LCD 320×240 touchscreen, most likely still using the resistive technology. Nothing much exciting except the very good battery life (up to 90hrs in audio and 13hrs in video) and the powerful output (29 mW/ch).

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Cowon X9 now shipping from Amazon

product banner x9 Cowon X9 now shipping from Amazon

It’s been about a month since the Cowon X9 was announced, and if anyone has actually been holding out for one since then, then today is their lucky day. For $230 the 32GB model can be yours, while the 8GB and 16GB models are notably absent.

To recap, the X9 is a player that’s something along the lines of the old O2 and the hard drive based X7. The 4.3-inch touchscreen dominates the front, but with a resolution of a ridiculously low (these days) 480 x 272 pixels, it would be an insult to other players to call this a video-centric device. That of course begs the question of why someone would use a 4.3-inch device for music, but the X9 does have some neat features in that regard. Tactile buttons, 110 hours of (manufacturer rated) battery life, and microSD support are all nice features to have on an audio player. There’s also the usual “Cowon package” of format support and sound enhancement features, the latter of which is suddenly harder to come by again after it was removed from the JetAudio Android software.

[Amazon via Engadget]




Cowon’s X9 is obviously a “Super Player”

product banner x9 Cowons X9 is obviously a Super Player

Cowon announced the X9 – nicknamed “Super Player” – which would make sense as a logical upgrade/sidestep to last year’s X7. But actually it’s more of a rehash of the ancient O2 PMP, released four years ago, in 2008 (ignoring the newer V5′s existence in several aspects).

The X7 is a 80-160GB HDD player with Bluetooth capabilites, the new X9 is a flash memory player without Bluetooth, but a MicroSD slot instead. Internal capacities of the X9 go up to 32GB – same as the ancient O2. Both the X7 and X9 have embarrassingly bad screen resolutions of 480×272 at 4.3″ – same as the ancient O2. Seems Cowon had a few old resistive touch screens left over to recycle (the slightly less ancient V5 HD in comparison had a much more reasonable 800×480 resolution at 4.7″, but by today’s standards that is the extreme lower limit for comparable screen sizes as well).

Additional tactile buttons for FFWD/REW/skip might make the X9 a more desirable player for on the go than the X7, which only had a unified menu/play/pause and two volume buttons. Cowon claims a battery life of up to 110 hours for audio and 13 hours for video on the X9. If real-life usage comes close to these synthetic benchmarks, it would be quite amazing for nomads and globetrotters. Cowon’s usual plethora of supported file formats and BBE sound enhancements are of course not missing from the X9. An additional annoyance is Cowon’s use of a proprietary USB connector instead of a standard mini/microUSB port.

iAudiophile moderator Kizune posted a comparison chart of the X7′s and X9′s differences, for your perusal.

[Cowon Korea via iAudiophile]




JetAudio for Android is not what it used to be

jetaudio android no bbe JetAudio for Android is not what it used to be

There was some back and forth with the initial free version 1.0.1 of JetAudio on the Play Store – some people saw it in the store, others didn’t (not depending on hardware compatibility). We suspected it was some region-specific restriction Google or Cowon was pulling there.

It turns out, it might very well have been some legal issue between Cowon and BBE Sound Inc. instead. The updated free version 1.0.2 and the now available paid version of JetAudio do not feature BBE and BBE ViVA sound enhancements (read the article below for my gushing about how nice they sound). Being basically the main selling point of the application, this does come as a bit of a shock. There is no explanation about the removal on the Play Store, on Cowon’s JetAudio website, or anywhere else – BBE simply disappeared from the screenshots, and it isn’t mentioned in the changelogs either.

This is not the way to communicate, Cowon – we could really do with an explanation as to what is going on. As it is now, I would not be willing to pay EUR 1.50 for the player when it lacks its main feature over competing audio players. You should really fix your licensing issues (or whatever it is) with BBE and explain to your customers what is going on there.

[JetAudio Plus and JetAudio Basic on Google Play Store]




JetAudio Player rocks Android

jetaudio android JetAudio Player rocks Android

Good news for people who feel Cowon’s D3 and Z2 Android players being a bit overpriced and/or underpowered – now you can have their trademark BBE/Jetaudio sound enhancements on any old Android device.

JetAudio has been Cowon’s bundled Windows audio player/manager app for almost a decade now, and BBE recently released an audio player app for Apple’s iOS (which isn’t overly mature software yet). Fandroids, put on your smug faces – now you get the best of both worlds.

JetAudio for Android provides BBE and BBE ViVA sound tweaks to beef up any audio signal – some people (like me) tend to say they’re the best sounding ones of the bunch, surpassing competitors like DNSE, SRS, or X-Fi enhancements in audio quality. For bass boost there’s a button called ‘X-Bass’ on the player – not the usual BBE Mach3Bass, but it sounds basically the same. Furthermore there’s a 10-band EQ, a (nice sounding) stereo-enhancer/spatializer, a (crappy bathroom) reverb effect, and (horrible) automatic gain control, which messes up too quiet and too loud parts in audio tracks, as usual with these algorithms. Unfortunately JetAudio doesn’t seem to support Replaygain so far, which would be a much more sensible choice than AGC.

Besides the trademark sound enhancements, JetAudio is a quite extensive piece of software for an initial release. Next to tag browsing it features good old file/folder browsing, album art display works fine, the interface is intuitive enough, and people with swollen egos can post their bad taste in music directly to Facebook or Twitter from within the player (not sure if Last.fm scrobbling is supported as well). Of course JetAudio claims to support gapless playback, like most other Android players – but same as all other players (except Rockbox and GoneMAD), it’s not really gapless and clicks between tracks. Its crossfade functionality works fine, though. For people with lopsided ears, there’s also audio pan/balance – I just wish that would be a global feature in the operating system, not app-dependent.

So far only a free version of JetAudio is available on the Market Play Store, with time-limited previews of some BBE sound enhancements. A full, paid version, should follow shortly.

[Google Play Store - thanks to NBT's Pocketables' Andreas for the tip!]




Cowon Z2 might finally reach Western shores

cowonz2 rel Cowon Z2 might finally reach Western shoresThere’s been quite some uncertainty and doubt regarding the international release date of the Plenue Z2, the successor to the D3, and Cowon’s second experiment with Google’s Android operating system. We’ve ranted about it as early as January.

This time it sure took Cowon a lot longer than usually to release a device outside of Korea, but it seems they’re almost there. According to Engadget, an “early May” release date should be possible. Apparently, the 16GB version of the Z2 will only come in white and will go for around $280, the 32GB version will only come in black and go for a slightly painful $320.

Those prices are quite a bit higher than, say, same-sized iPod Touch variants, and a lot more expensive than Samsung’s various Galaxy Players. But if you want BBE sound enhancements, many more tactile buttons than average Android devices offer, and a shnazzy S-AMOLED screen (hopefully a non-Pentile one), then you really don’t have a lot of alternatives. At least the Z2 should be snappy enough to be usable as an all-around Android device, contrary to its severely slow and laggy ancestor, the D3.

[via Engadget - thanks to Nathan for the tip]




Got root? The Cowon Z2 already does.

z2 root Got root? The Cowon Z2 already does.As usual with Android devices, it was only a matter of time until someone gained root access to the Cowon Z2. This time however it happened before the Z2 actually hit the market outside of Korea.

iAudiophile forum member Gungr spent some hours figuring out how to open up the Z2, so you don’t have to. So far it’s a bit of a lengthy procedure, involving setting up the Java and Android SDKs, editing info files, and some more in-depth wizardry. I’m sure a neatly packed, easy to install, rooted ROM update will follow shortly.

I don’t think I have to count the advantages of having root access on an Android device: official Android market access, ad blocking, backing up or deleting superfluous system apps, over/underclocking the CPU, and so on.

So, if you’re the lucky owner of an imported Z2, run, don’t walk over to iAudiophile and check out the instructions on how to make the most of your Z2.

[iAudiophile Cowon Z2 root access hack by Gungr]




Cowon released the D3… no wait, this time it’s called the Z2

cowonz2 Cowon released the D3... no wait, this time its called the Z2About a year after their first foray into Android fields, Cowon released the Z2 Plenue in Korea – indirectly admitting the earlier D3 being a beta product… one that customers paid dear money for.

The Z2 is basically the exact same product as the D3 with a few hardware flaws ironed out. The Z2′s 1GHz Telechips Cortex-A8 processor isn’t quite as outdated as the D3′s 750Mhz ARM11 (although it’s still far from what’s usually built into Android devices nowadays), and it has 512MB Ram, which is quite a bit more useful than the D3′s paltry 170MB (usually 60MB free). Gone is also Cowon’s proprietary 32-pin port – the Z2 sports standard MicroUSB and MicroHDMI ports. While this is generally a great update, it might however mean the Z2 doesn’t do S/PDIF-out anymore, as found on the D3′s proprietary port.

The Z2′s screen is a 3.7″ 800 x 480 AMOLED one, just like the D3′s – let’s hope Cowon used one with a real RGB subpixel matrix this time, not an inferior Pentile one. I also hope they got hardware-accelerated video contrast ratio right this time – I’m still hoping for a fix for this glaring bug in the D3… Still available on the Z2 is one of the D3′s best features over almost all other Android devices out there – plenty of tactile buttons, making usability on the go quite a lot easier than touchscreen-only controls. Battery life on the Z2 still isn’t great – 22 hours for music, 8-9 hours for video. Let’s hope those synthetic benchmark numbers are somewhat close to real-life performance.

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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]