As already promised earlier, Anythingbutipod is giving away a shiny, fresh, award winning Cowon iAudio 10. To win the i10, the only thing you need to do is to subscribe to the CrowdGadgets newsletter. The contest is open to anyone worldwide, not just US residents. The winner will be announced in the newsletter on November 21st. Good luck!
A big thank you to Cowon Korea for donating the prize. Read on for the design awards the i10 won so far. Continue reading…
(Warning: If you’re not immune to ear-hemorrhage-inducing pop music, you better turn down the volume on your speakers/headphones before starting the video.)
The Cowon J3 is far from being abandoned by the user interface modding community (and the S9 and X7 benefit from being compatible). Well known Korean UCI designer Asurada presents a teaser video of his newest creation, ASUCI v2.
Using 45 degree tilted interface elements would usually be just a gimmick, but Asurada obviously put a lot of thought into the design and usability of his theme. Next to ergonomic left-handed usage I especially like the increased length of the slider bar, allowing for more precise scrolling in a track. It seems to hit a quite sweet middle ground between a portrait- and a landscape-oriented interface.
Many reviews have already been written about the Cowon D3. Mine’s certainly late to the party, but for good reason: after seeing the somewhat underwhelming performance of the D3 with its initial Android 2.1 firmware, I told myself to wait until the release of the inevitable 2.3 upgrade before I give the D3 a closer look.
Now that yummy ‘Gingerbread’ has arrived on Cowon’s first foray into the smartphone-without-a-phone realms, there’s no more holding back. Continue reading…
While last week’s iAudio 10 teaser left a lot – or rather, everything – to the imagination, we now get a closer look at the real product.
Design-wise, the i10 borrows the curved back plate of the S9 and some cues from the C2‘s appearance as well. Specs-wise, there are no real surprises to be found in the i9′s successor. As expected, it still uses a touch control interface nobody seems to like, it still has no SD slot unlike most other new Cowon players. On the positive side, this time Cowon was daring enough to release a 32GB model, so the internal storage capacity should be fine for most people’s needs. Contrary to the i9′s 240×320 4:3 screen, the i10 sports a 3″ 240×400 widescreen display (TFT, not AMOLED). While still being a rather slim looking player, the battery life on the i10 seems much improved over the i9 – a theoretical 38 hours for audio and 6.5 hours for video.
The ‘Color Therapy’ user interface is, as expected, just a superficial gimmick. However, it seems – contrary to the C2′s tedious ‘Daily Life’ UI – that the ‘Color Therapy’ stuff might not get in the way of usability and actually lets one tweak the main interface colors to one’s liking.
All the usual features one expects from a Cowon are there as well – BBE sound enhancements, dozens of supported audio codecs, AVI/WMV (and possibly MP4) video support, FM radio, voice recorder, built-in speaker, analog TV-out, line/mic-in, image viewer, text file viewer, and so on. The Korean version also comes with a T-DMB tuner, which won’t be of much use in other countries.
Your guess is as good as mine as to what Cowon is trying to convey with the iAudio 10 teaser website. It plays Korean pop music in various degrees of cheesiness, smacks some random English words in your face, shows off some hip and beautiful people, and lets you adjust the site background and spot colors.
To me it seems Cowon is following up here on their C2‘s “Daily Life” user interface – which basically is a nag-screen/screensaver that gets in the way of the real user interface. Well, let’s wait and see how the new i10′s “Therapy Music” interface turns out to change the life of narrow-minded Europeans like me.
The i6 was a tiny, chubby 0.85″ HDD player, the i7 was the same with flash memory, the i8 existed only in my imagination, and the i9 is the slimmest Cowon player to date. What those players have in common is a diagonal touch-strip control system, paired with some tactile buttons. Place your bets on what the i10 is going to look like, and if you truly need “Therapy Music” or not after it has been unveiled for good.
One thing’s for sure: never bet on what name/number Cowon is coming up for consecutive players in a series, you will most definitely be guessing wrong.
The D2/D2+ was a very popular player for its time, some four years ago, and many people craved for a more modern successor ever since it was released. Recently, when the D3 was announced, there were quite some outcries to be heard since it was a large Android phone-without-a-phone, with nary a resemblance to the D2 at all.
Enter the newly released C2. As I said, do not try to make sense of Cowon’s naming schemes – the C2 is ‘the real D3’, so to speak. It actually is still more of a D2 than anything else – basically the same hardware, the same form factor, the same screen, more or less the same functionality as its four year old ancestor. The most obvious differences are in the looks of the user interface, the move from a full-sized SD slot to MicroSD, the use of a power/hold button instead of a slider, and the addition of a speaker on the back.
Does that mean Cowon’s decision to move this revamped D2 one letter down the alphabet is a step back? Not necessarily, there are certainly some features to be found in the C2’s firmware that are fit for a 2011 player. Read on for the full review. Continue reading…
After a long time being held back by Android 2.1, the D3 recently got an upgrade to version 2.3, usually referred to as Gingerbread by the cool kids.
It should make the device faster, more responsive, and improve system stability. Of course Cowon also packed in some new functionality (sleep timer, plug-in codec support, search widget, VoIP) and fixed some bugs under the hood.
Proud D3 owners, head on over to Cowon Global to download the update and give your player a serious boost in usability.
Everyone who anticipated the D3 to be a successor to the venerable D2/D2+ was slightly disappointed (same as the X7 has barely anything in common with the older X5). However, Cowon’s product naming scheme barely ever made sense, and the C2 is no exception. Lo and behold, this time around we actually get a successor to the D2.
The C2 comes in four colors, has basically the same screen as the D2 (320×240 2.6″ LCD), basically the same audio and video codec support (plays most audio, still doesn’t support MP4/h264), the same amount of tactile buttons on top (power/hold is now a button, not a slider), and the D2′s full sized SD slot has been replaced by a MicroSD slot. The C2′s glossy metal back sure looks fetching in product photos, but I doubt it will stay that pristine under real world conditions.
It has no AMOLED screen, no high resolution, probably no capacitive touch screen, no Wifi, no Bluetooth, doesn’t run on Android, or anything else that would go with current trends or would distinguish it much from the years old D2/D2+’s hardware. A speaker on the back is the only new feature, and probably an upgraded version of BBE sound enhancements. Fans of the D2 form factor might still find it a worthy upgrade, but I don’t see overly much incentive in doing so.
The player’s user interface appears to be one of the most cheese-tacky-tastic ones Cowon released so far, besides the V5‘s UI. It provides ‘witty’ or ‘cute’ messages depending on the time of the day. I can see how slogans like “siesta now – after happy lunch” or “thinking about you – all the time” will never get old when one has to look at them constantly on the main screen… well, there’s always custom user interfaces that can fix those Korean cultural differences.
Release in Europe or America? I know as much as you.
The moment everyone – well, everyone who owns a D3 – waited for is here: Android Market is working on the Cowon D3. Forum member roebeet posted his full installation instructions over at the iAudiophile forums.
It’s not the easiest or most straightforward hack, but anyone should get it working without issues. The hack requires ADB (Android Debug Bridge, from the SDK) and root access (z4root, Superuser) as prerequisites, and some commandline actions. It should be manageable in both Linux and Windows. Since Cowon managed to lock the D3 down properly, this hack will have to be repeated/adjusted for each new firmware version the D3 might get in future.
While it is nice that Cowon employees started posting selected Android apps for download/sideload in our D3 software forum, it sure feels right to cut out the middle man and go for the full, unrestricted Market straight away.
However, there seems to be more to Cowon not supporting Market on the D3 than monetary licensing issues. Unfortunately the D3 runs on a somewhat exotic Telechips processor that isn’t properly supported by many apps available (the ever popular Angry Birds won’t work well on the D3, for example), and it seemingly doesn’t have enough RAM as well. It might have been a bad choice by Cowon to use this processor instead of a well supported, say, TI OMAP… but that’s how it is.
Cowon D3 users now have access to the Market – make the best of it, but don’t be surprised if things don’t work as well as on an Archos tablet or similar.
Those classic HDD players just won’t go away… Some time ago we already had Godbes’ 128GB SSD ZV:M and my Cowon X5 CompactFlash mod on the front page. Now forum member Razorblader tried a more modern approach to beefing up his venerable X5 – with a state of the art 64GB SDXC card.
One advantage of SDXC over CF would be that it is a more future-proof storage medium, and that it will get huge capacities in the foreseeable future. Can’t wait for the first half-terabyte X5, H300, or ZV:M.
While CompactFlash always was the medium of choice for professional DSLRs and as a cheaper SSD replacement in computers, due to ATA/IDE support, this seems to be changing at the moment – with SDXC cards promising more storage space, almost comparable speeds (for now), and a smaller form factor.
Razorblader used his 64GB SDXC card in an SD-to-CF adapter, then put this contraption in a CF-to-IDE adapter, which finally is connected to the X5′s IDE cable. This sums up to about $120 for 64GB of solid state storage. Not bad at all.
While most such mods are made to players running Rockbox, Razorblader took care to get the stock Cowon firmware working as well, by modifying the master boot record of the SDXC card. Sure is lovely having some BBE sound enhancements with your 64GB of tunes.
The Clip+ has a fantastic little form factor; somewhat cheap in build quality but very rugged. The interface is simple and relatively straightforward. The features on the Clip are more or less average, however it supports the alternative Rockbox firmware which provides tons of additional options (gapless playback, Replaygain, playlists, Last.fm scrobbling, etc). Read the full review or go ahead and buy it.
The J3 is a fantastic PMP with a very nice AMOLED screen and tons of features. It sports Cowon's trademark BBE sound enhancements, and offers a customizable user interface with strong support by our user community. You can usually find it at Amazon for the best price - and don't forget to check out our review.
Microsoft Zune HD
Sure, many of us are not big fans of the walled garden, but there are a lot of great things going on with the Zune: sturdy hardware, ultra easy to use user interface, and a media player that is worthy of Editor’s Choice. You can check out our Zune HD review or stop by our Zune forums for the latest info and gossip.
Phonak Audéo PFE
Phonak Audéo PFE offer outstanding clarity and precision; natural, dynamic mids and treble, and decent bass for a single armature in-ear phone. They handle dense, complex music very well. The PFE work well with most acoustic and some electronic music genres, but bassheads might have to look at other alternatives. They're great for sports as well, since they fit very securely. Check out our review.
The Hippo VB (Variable Bass) offers a serious subwoofer for on the go, right in your head. They don’t just deliver generous quantities of punchy, textured bass, but good audio quality over the whole frequency range with decent clarity and exceptional soundstage. Exchangeable bass ports let you customize their sound to your liking. Read our in-depth Hippo VB review.
Soundmagic E10 / E30
The Soundmagic E10 and E30 are basically right in the middle between the Phonak PFE and Hippo VB - not too analytical sounding, not too bass heavy. The E10 provide a bit more bass, the E30 a bit more clarity. Both come with a very fair price tag considering the sound quality they deliver - a great choice for the audio aficionado on a budget. Read our E10 and E30 reviews for more info.