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.
Read the full mod instructions in the forum thread.
Since my first gen Rockboxed Sansa Clip died, I ordered an IDE to CF adapter for my X5L after I read the Rockbox CF Mod Wiki page.
Installation was pretty straightforward, I only had to cut/saw the plastic bit off one side of the adapter’s IDE connector to fit. I also had to shorten the master/slave jumper so it doesn’t poke the PCB and battery, use a slimmer jumper bridge, and electrical tape on the backside (see red dots in the photos).
Speed with a 300x Lexar CF is blazing, bootup is almost instantly. Too bad there’s no affordable 300x 32GB card available, so I have to see which 16 or 32Gb card is fast enough to be useful in the X5. I’m leaning towards a Kingston Elite Pro 133x (should be faster than 133x in reality), or a Hama HighSpeed Pro (should have similar speeds as the twice as expensive SanDisk Extreme III). On another note, the X5 is now also quite a bit lighter than with the 1.8″ HDD inside.
Click over to the mod thread for more pics.
You never can tell with these Cowon rumors and release dates, but the guys over at French MP3 player site GenerationMP3 got word straight from Cowon that the X7 will be announced at this years European electronics show, IFA. Cowon fans are crossing their fingers that this will actually be the first glimse we get of this elusive device. It is also reported that this will indeed be a hard drive based player registering in at 60GB and 80GB capacities.
However, I think that many of us are also crossing our fingers hoping that Cowon does not follow the trendy and less practical touch screen / touch pad rout for the X5 successor. Tactile interfaces for the win! The D2 is an awesome device, but its touch screen interface lends to usability issues in many situations. Speaking of which will get a memory boost to 16GB very soon. More to come on both devices…
Fake X7 photo courtesy of iAudiophile =)
I have been using my iAudio X5L for nearly two years now… long enough to really get to know the animal and write a review about it.
Why write a review about a “nearly obsolete” player? Well, for many users the X5 is still in a class of its own. It’s one of the very few 1.8″ hard-disk-based audio players still in production that use the UMS Mass Storage Class for connecting to a computer; most others use the MTP protocol, which can require installation of additional software. The X5 supports a huge variety of audio codecs, and its sound quality still rivals and even surpasses many new players. The X5L’s 35 hours of battery life are unmatched in the field of HDD-based audio players.
The player is available in several different configurations: the slim X5 with a battery life of 14 hours and capacities of 20 and 30GB, and the bulkier X5L rated at 35 hours of battery life and the same capacities. A 60GB version of the X5 also exists, with the same dimensions as the X5L (due to the bigger 60GB hard disk). There is no 60GB version of the X5L.
If you’re interested in a no-nonsense, hassle-free, high quality audio player, read on.
Cowon’s iAudio X5 is nearly two-and-a-half years old but is still highly regarded by audio purists as a no-nonsense music player with sound quality that will make the audiophile with non-stock earbuds smile. Even though the design is something reminiscent of the early 90s’ gadget scene and the interface is anything but refined, the player still has a fairly large underground following as seen in iAudio fansite iAudiophile.net.
In the next week or so, we will have a full on ABi-style review. In the meantime, take a look at the unboxing video below for a retro preview of the iAudio X5. Update: Read the full iAudio X5 review.
Those who want to squeeze every bit of performance out of their MP3 players can now do so with these custom cables from appropriately named company Qables. These cables are unique in that they plug right into the proprietary dock connections of Creative”s Zen line as well as iAudio’s X5, giving you direct line-out to plug into your hi-fi setup.
But as with any quality cable, these come with a heavier price tag. Depending on the player and cable setup, mini jack or RCA, they can run anywhere from $60 to well over $100. If you are a hardcore audiophile, you may want to check them out. White-earbud-wearing kids need not apply.
There is a in-depth write up on the new iAudio X5 on the Cowon iAudio fan site, iAudiophile.net. They say it is a solid hard drive based player with a nice GUI with photo and video support. However, I would take the commentary with a grain of salt considering that they had given the last version, the screen-less throw-back-to-the-80′s iAudio M3, a perfect score of 100% and called it an “…amazing feat of engineering and design.”. Well, what do you expect from a fan site? Oh… and apparently it now has “Color Sound” as stated in giant silver letters etched on the front of the player.