Cowon announced the X9 – nicknamed “Super Player” – which would make sense as a logical upgrade/sidestep to last year’s X7. But actually it’s more of a rehash of the ancient O2 PMP, released four years ago, in 2008 (ignoring the newer V5′s existence in several aspects).
The X7 is a 80-160GB HDD player with Bluetooth capabilites, the new X9 is a flash memory player without Bluetooth, but a MicroSD slot instead. Internal capacities of the X9 go up to 32GB – same as the ancient O2. Both the X7 and X9 have embarrassingly bad screen resolutions of 480×272 at 4.3″ – same as the ancient O2. Seems Cowon had a few old resistive touch screens left over to recycle (the slightly less ancient V5 HD in comparison had a much more reasonable 800×480 resolution at 4.7″, but by today’s standards that is the extreme lower limit for comparable screen sizes as well).
Additional tactile buttons for FFWD/REW/skip might make the X9 a more desirable player for on the go than the X7, which only had a unified menu/play/pause and two volume buttons. Cowon claims a battery life of up to 110 hours for audio and 13 hours for video on the X9. If real-life usage comes close to these synthetic benchmarks, it would be quite amazing for nomads and globetrotters. Cowon’s usual plethora of supported file formats and BBE sound enhancements are of course not missing from the X9. An additional annoyance is Cowon’s use of a proprietary USB connector instead of a standard mini/microUSB port.
iAudiophile moderator Kizune posted a comparison chart of the X7′s and X9′s differences, for your perusal.
(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.
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:
This photo was sent to me (thanks David) claiming to be an early prototype of Cowon’s update to their flagship hard drive player, the X5. While the photo is clearly a Photoshop job, it could have been done by Cowon. What leads me to believe that this is legit is the reuse of buttons found on the i7 and the D2—definitely Cowon’s style. The Gomatic connection on the bottom also matches their previous players.
The player looks a little too thin to incorporate a hard drive so it may be going the way of every other player and like the D2, flash with expandable memory. From the photos the player looks to be touch screen. To me that’s somewhat of a disappointment, but at least there are dedicated volume buttons.
The D2 was a hit and the X7 looks to be a larger improved version of it– Cowon may have another winner.
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…
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.