Snooping around Cowon’s Korean website I found a new rehash of the V5 PMP, the “Smart Study” V5S. It seems this version is specifically made for the fiercely competitive high-pressure world of Korean education, loaded with lots of gimmicky study apps, dictionaries, and the like. This PMP will probably never see the light of day outside of South Korea, but the V5S’ firmware might be worth a second glance.
One of the main issues of the V5 (as described in our V5 review) is it’s tacky, counterintuitive, backwards user interface. Indirectly, Cowon seem to admit they botched the V5 interface, since the V5S comes with an UI that resembles the Android-powered D3 more than it’s hardware-identical sibling, the old V5. The V5S’ main screen is much tidier than the V5′s, with real icons that actually seem to do something, and main functions don’t seem to be hidden in subcategories as well.
How is this relevant, since the V5S is very likely to be sold in Korea only? Well, maybe the V5S firmware could be put on the V5, since both their hardwares seems to be exactly the same. If it’s not locked down in some way, it might work right away – if not, some hacker might certainly find an easy way to fix that. Of course the V5 is anything but a popular player, so community support is minimal – but who knows, it’s worth a try in any case. Unfortunately my V5 is the only Cowon that ever bricked, so I can’t try the V5S firmware on it.
Cowon V5S product page (Korean) and firmware download.
Update: Rafa got this firmware working on a regular V5. Only the main screen changed, everything else is the same – besides the additional Korean study apps. Read the installation instructions on iAudiophile.
I’ve whipped up two short videos to showcase what I personally believe to be the most fetching and useful UCIs (user created interfaces) available for the Cowon J3 and S9 (besides Claw’s venerable S9 UCI). Forum member Kizune really has outdone himself with these projects, combining a great visual style with a high level of usability and generally better logic than Cowon’s default interfaces.
Do not adjust your set, these videos are silent. I spare you the yapping, heavy breathing, and other superfluous background noises. I prefer letting Kizune’s UCIs talk for themselves. Please provide your own music of choice to go with them, and if you have questions about these UCIs, just ask them in the comments below – or, even better, check out the Aero Music and Chakra forum threads.
Videos after the jump – even in 720p when Youtube isn’t clogged.
How about some Cowon D3 news for a change? Some user-created UI videos are starting to pop up on Youtube, originating from Korea and Japan, where the player is already available.
First impressions of the UI running on Android 2.1 are less than stellar: that thing seems to be seriously slow and laggy. Makes one wonder what CPU it uses and how much (or little) RAM the D3 is equipped with. I can already see Cowon releasing firmware updates on a weekly basis, as is their usual modus operandi in such situations, hopefully fixing these issues.
Watch some videos after the jump.
In a device world where many are lining up behind app stores and music players on phones are taking a portion of the portable audio market, the dedicated MP3 player is far from dead. 2010 was a little bit of a slow year but some really interesting shifts towards these App centric non phone media players is happening. We got a little taste of it this year but will see a lot more of it for 2011.
As for 2010, here are there players that were at the top for 2010.
Forum member aznstriker92 translated the D3′s full spec sheet found on the Korean Cowon site (visit the site for more product photos).
So far, the biggest differences to similar Android PMPs that keep popping up daily seem to be support for BBE sound enhancements, an NTFS file system that supports files larger than 4GB, and a plethora of tactile buttons that should make the D3 a more pocket-friendly audio player on the go. The 3.7″ 800×480 AMOLED screen is quite hoity-toity as well.
On the downside, Android 2.1 isn’t exactly the most current iteration of the operating system – but knowing Cowon’s modus operandi, this might get updated along the way. Furthermore, 21 hours of battery life for audio playback is a bit low by Cowon’s standards, especially considering their claimed battery life is usually higher than real-life performance. 10 hours of video playback sounds very nice, though.
Without further ado, here’s the full specs for you to drool over, or being indifferent about – it’s all up to you: Continue reading…
After years of speculation, the Cowon D3 becomes real… sort of. We still have no photos of it, but we know it will be a 3.7″ 800×480 AMOLED capacitive touchscreen device, running on Android 2.1. It will have Wifi and Bluetooth and should be available with up to 32GB internal memory and a MicroSDHC slot.
Of course this new D3 has nothing to do with the D2 and D2+ at all, same as the recently released Cowon X7 doesn’t bear any resemblance to the venerable X5. However, the D3 sure sounds way more exciting than the X7 in general. Can’t wait to hear/see more. Hopefully it will be the first Android device with BBE sound enhancements.
Thanks to forum member slitz for the tip (via AMP3 UK).
Additional info on the Bluetooth SIG Member Site – thanks to forum moderator lebellium.
Just when I wrote in my Cowon J3 review that I really want to see Cowon developing an insta-win PMP that looks and handles like the J3… well, they didn’t do that. Instead they are going to re-release the V5 with the faddest (this is a proper word, I just made it up) of all current fads tacked on, a glassless “3D” interface. Of course “3D” here means 2D plus depth, as seen in Pixar and Dreamworks movies everywhere.
I can see that gimmick being useful on the upcoming Nintendo 3DS, adding an interesting twist to portable gaming, but come on – on a PMP? Where do you even get content to play on that thing? Another possibility of course would be that just the user interface is “3D”, not the videos that are supported. My gut feeling tells me this thing will stay in Korea and won’t see an international release. We will see.
As for other V5 3D specs, it’s said to play 1080p content on its 4.8″ 800×480 TFT screen, has an HDMI output, Wifi, two web browsers (Opera and a Korean one called uZard Web), and an SDHC slot. It still runs on ye olde Windows CE 6.0, and it’s still a TFT screen, no AMOLED or S-LCD. The 3D will be the first Cowon with 64GB internal memory, which is a step in the right direction. Korean release date is December 10th.
Official Korean Cowon 3D site – via Engadget.
“Good news, everyone,” as Hubert J. Farnsworth would say.
One might believe not much has changed since Cowon released the S9. On paper, the J3 is basically the same player, just with and additional MicroSD slot and a speaker. Fans of Cowon players already know: the company is usually trying to reinvent the wheel with every new player – changing hardware layout, user interface, and general design cues willy-nilly, as if there’s no brand recognition to worry about.
So Cowon actually trying to improve on a winning player like the S9, trying to go an evolutionary route rather than the ‘revolutionary’ way is something that doesn’t happen very often. Whoever read my reviews of the Cowon O2 and V5 video players knows what I’m talking about – the latter is in many aspects worse than the former, even if it has the same basic form factor and feature set premise. No evolution, no building on tried and proven interface aspects, Cowon starting from scratch once again, and failing.
The J3 however is a very different beast. It took all the good aspects of the S9’s design, hardware- and firmware-wise, and made them better, seemingly organically and effortlessly. The form factor is an improvement, the tactile buttons are better placed and have a better feel to them, the interface is even more responsive, and easier to operate. The additional MicroSD slot is a godsend, and the battery life is even better than on the S9.
No need to play the suspense card and the old “read on to find out” teaser – the J3 is simply the best player Cowon ever made. Be my guest if you still want to read on, though.
No, the hard drive player is not dead. Most will be puzzled but and scoff at a manufacturer releasing a HDD based player in a flash memory world, but Cowon is no fool. They do understand the portable audio market very well and do know that there is a niche of people looking for very large capacity players. You can find countless threads in the forums of people looking for alternatives to the ipod classic and aside form Archos’ large PMPs, there are no other options.
The X7 will be released overseas shortly but no word yet on the US release. Here are the specs deciphered from Cowon’s official product page:
What do you get when you pair decent quality audio/video hardware with a head-scratchingly bad user interface, backwards usability, and disregard for anything that makes sense to the average user? Well, a Cowon PMP, of course. While this was true for the Cowon O2 I reviewed a bit over a year ago, I’ve taken it upon me to go through the same pain again, this time with the Cowon V5.
Grahm already wrote a short preview article about the V5. While I agree with his evaluation that the V5 is a nice upgrade to the O2 on the surface, the mess that is hidden beneath when one tries to use the V5 on a daily basis is even worse.
Read on for the not so surprising in-depth review of this portable media player.