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The recipe is easy: take a D2+, keep exactly the same outdated design, just upgrade the CPU and improve battery life.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 Not to mention the outdated 2.5″ LCD 320×240 touchscreen, most likely still using the resistive technology.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).
The Cowon D2 was a big hit and one of our editor’s choices. While the S9 has slowly taken its place in the hearts of Cowon fans, the D3 still looms around the corner. Rumor has it as Journal Du Geek reports that the D3 will run on Android. This worries me. Too many companies think Android is the cure all for the device industry, but their attempts at devices have not been better than what is already available or worse. Take the new Archos 5 tablet, it’s a haphazard mess of old Archos firmware paired with a really old build of Android. So let’s hope that Cowon can do this right and made the decision to move to Android because it would make a better user experience, not because its license free.
An updated version of the D2 was just released a few weeks ago and dubbed the D2+. Many of us where a bit puzzled as to the minimal changes made through out the firmware. Changes were made in the firmware adding BBE+ enhancement and new GUI with the psychical design being the biggest noticeable change. Though now we know that most of the internal components have remained unchanged thanks to a few industrious and enthusiastic D2 owners.
It turns out that the D2+ firmware can be brute forced onto the D2 with a tool developed by the Rockbox crew, TCCTool- originally used to load firmware on bricked Telechip based devices. The steps to do this can be found in the D2 forums- Martin has even updated his popular More Mono theme to the D2+ firmware.
Updating the design, giving it a firmware refresh, and calling it a D2+ is a great idea, but leaving old D2 users behind in the firmware refresh is another story. The Zune has already set the precedent for this when they still continue to update 2+ year old hardware with the same firmware as on the newest Zunes. So D2 fans become quite envious of the Zune and a bit abandoned Cowon. With that said, it would be honorable of them to go ahead and give the long time D2 owners the D2+ firmware upgrade without having to hack it. Hacks might cause an increase in support too.
Below are a few photos of the D2 running the D2+ firmware as well as RMAA proof showing that changing the firmware has also changed the sound signature from BBE to BBE+.
Update: Cowon contacted us to warn that there is risk in bricking (damaging/rendering it useless) your D2 by doing this. So in my words, do this at your own risk.
Martin and I have been a bit disappointed with our O2’s (check out his O2 review). We have no complaints about the hardware and the sound quality is top notch as always. Cowon has made some minor fixes and improvements with Codec handling in recent firmware updates, but our major gripe is the UI. Equating it to something out of Windows 3.1, we were a bit puzzled as to why Cowon would take a few steps back when they already have something very successful to build upon- the D2.
Putting the D2 UI on the O2 would be a huge improvement and cure our main gripe. How could you argue with an oversized D2 with HD codec support? I have been trading a few emails with one of the O2 firmware programmers and he seems to think it is a good idea and has passed it on to R&D- so this may indeed become a reality.
In the spirit of product development and improvement, Martin has mocked up what the O2 would look like with the D2 interface after the jump.
After a month of agonizing customs and shipping problems I finally was able to get Martin’s S9 over to him. He couldn’t be more pleased sighting the brilliant screen and native video support. With that as our trusted headphone editor he has performed listening and RMAA comparison tests side by side with the Cowon O2 and D2.
While I didn’t buy in the hype of being the best sounding Cowon to date (check out my S9 review), he didn’t either- though stating it is nearly the same as the recent Cowon players. Check out the details and frequency response graphs comparing the S9 to the O2 and D2.
Cowon has always had a strong underground following for its very clean sound and great support for audio codecs. However, this underground support is slipping due to very poorly written firmware. Even in the past being a Cowon user have been bothered by numerous buggy and botched firmwares. I in fact have bricked an i7 as well as U3- bricked to the point of having to be returned to the manufacture to be fixed. Both of these happened while upgrading firmwares.
About a month ago we speculated on whether or not a 16GB Cowon D2 was in the works. The player has now shown up on jetmall.net which is Cowon’s official US reseller, so it’s safe to say this is for real.
The biggest surprise has to be the price – and by that I don’t mean it’s high. The 16GB D2 sells for only $240 with free shipping, which isn’t the cheapest 16GB option around but also far from the most expensive. Add $70 bucks and you’ll get a 16GB SDHC card that will make it a total of 32GB for $310.
To take a quick look at the rest of the 16GB club, the current prices are: Creative Zen 16GB $180 (Amazon), Sansa View 16GB $150 (Amazon), Sony NWZ-A729 16GB $290 (Amazon) and Sony NWZ-A829 16GB $320 (Amazon). The Samsung P2 16GB has just been released in Europe and is expected to arrive in the US soon for about $300.
[Jetmall via GenerationMP3]
The Cowon D2 has been around for over a year now and has perhaps been Cowon’s biggest success ever. It has survived in the race for more storage capacity for so long because of the SDHC card slot that allows users to add up to 16GB (32GB soon) on top of the 2, 4 or 8GB of internal memory. Now it seems Cowon has finally taken a step further and is planning on releasing a 16GB D2.
There is no official word yet, but the 16GB version just showed up on a German webshop so it’s very likely this isn’t just a rumour. The player is so far listed without any release date or price so there is still a chance this is just a glitch. If it turns out to be true that will mean the D2 will have a current max capacity of 32GB with 48GB being possible in the near future.
[MP3-player.de via GenerationMP3]
Both Japan and Korea will receive an additional broadcasting service to one Cowon media player each this month. An alternate version of the iAudio D2 will be offered alongside the standard model in Japan. It will be almost identical to the original D2 and provide all the same features as well as a 1seg TV tuner which streams content with its built-in retractable antenna. Suitably called the D2TV it is in essence Japan’s equivalent to the D2 DMB.
The second player to gain some extra functionality is the iAudio L2. In the form of a firmware upgrade, rather than a hardware adaptation, it will accept TPEG transmissions which contain real-time traffic and weather reports. The service will be broadcasted over DMB and certainly compliment the device’s GPS navigation system.
[Press Release | Press Release via Impress]
It has not taken long for another DAP manufacturer to follow suit after the Creative Zen V Plus received a memory increased to 16GB. The iAudio 7 with a capacity of 16GB has been announced by Cowon.
Alongside the i7, new edition of the D2 (dubbed the D2 DMB) will feature 4GB and 8GB of internal storage, while expansion through SDHC cards can provide a further 8GB. The increase in storage space is not the only addition to the D2; it will also receive the ability to handle DMB content.
Several player and accessory packs are available for the South Korean market, but there is no dates and prices for other regions yet.