There’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]
About 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 The Z2′s 1GHz Telechips Cortex-A8 processor isn’t quite as outdated as the D3′s 750Mhz ARM11 (although it’s still far from what’s usually built into Android devices nowadays), and it has 512MB Ram, which is quite a bit more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.
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…
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.
Thanks to Copperface for the tip.
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.
Update: Cowon representatives posted APKs of alternatives to the official Google Market in our forums: 1MobileMarket, AndAppStore, and Slideme.
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.
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.
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.
While talking with some of the Cowon reps at CES 2008 I was tipped off to the D3 while inquiring about supported video resolution on the D2. I asked if there were any plans the D2 would ever support video resolutions above 320×240. He said no, but the D3 might. The rep then gave me three pieces of information- the D3 will be smaller, slimmer, and out in 6 months. “Out in 6 months” is not very clear since this could mean out in Korea in 6 months or announced in 6 months. The US may see it 6 to 12 months in those terms.
Last year I was told that they had no plans to release the Q5 to the US and they did. There could have been a change of plans or there could have been a miscommunication in that it would not be Q5 in the US but a Q5W. That said I would take the D3 news rumor, but a very plausible rumor since it came from the mouths of Cowon.