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Old 05-09-2013, 05:22 AM
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BruceBanner BruceBanner is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Australia, NSW
Posts: 2,728
Default i9+ Mini-Review

For those of you familiar with my previous purchases shall already know I owned and reviewed the i9 player awhile back. Since the i9 was too short on storage (16gb max) I opted for a 4gb C2 player (expandable memory) and reviewed it in some great detail here whilst maintaining focus on the custom UI side of things (which I feel are a must to properly cope with the short comings of the C2).
So now my latest purchase is Cowon's new rehash of the i9 player called the i9+ with really three distinguishing features from its predecessor;

a) It comes in 32gb flavours
b) It has a larger speaker
c) Has Jet Effect 5

There may be other upgrades that have slipped by me, but that in itself should tell you something about my reasoning. I wasn't really caring for any upgrade other than 32gb of memory because in my mind the i9 was almost the perfect player for me if only it came in larger capacity or carried expandable memory slot. Here I can make do with 32gb. For some that's still too little but for the way I manage my music collection this is definitely manageable (and will be for the foreseeable future).

But why ditch the C2?

Although the C2 sorted out some of my needs I did compromise on a few issues which have been gnawing away at me all the while;

1) I found the C2 heavier and chunkier than I would have liked. Although definately pocketable, if using during high impact exercise or you have a job like I do that is very physical then it becomes noticeable and a bit annoying. Coming from someone who used to use a Clip+/Zip it was definately a hinderance, running with it is not practical.

2) All the tactile controls are located on one side and bunched together, it really needs a bit of 'line of sight' to hit the play/pause/menu button as its right in the middle. It's not a big issue (i'm nitpicking here), but when i was at work and someone wanted to speak with me i'd often take a few seconds to locate the pause button and often I would accidentally skip the track I was currently listening too in the process. Not a deal breaker by any means, just a slight occupational annoyance (something that I never
had to deal with when I used the old i9. The i9+ buttons are divided on two sides of the player, hitting play/pause was easier as was skipping tracks. I feel safer navigating the player in this way whilst behind the wheel of a car lol.

Instead of sounding like a broken record I shall instead just list the pros and cons of both the i9+ and C2 to better highlight my purchasing decision.

-Lightest, 40g its twice as light as the C2, when in yer pocket its not noticeable, definitely exercise friendly.
-Smallest, better form factor
-Highest quality screen (crisp sharp, bright and best for viewing in daylight)
-Navigation is easier (than C2), less mistakes made when selecting choices
-Less needs to custom UI (tho i do like DFKT's simpler NPS)
-Tactile controls better situated
-Jet Effect 5 ('tho most new presets I will likely never use)

-Cost (it is quite pricey, around the $180USD mark)
-Limited places to buy from
-Hold button is perhaps more annoying than the C2 'Multiple press' style.
-32gb max
-Less battery life (but manageable for my needs)

-Highest Capacity (up to 80gb)
-Longer battery life*
-Great value (I got my 4gb model for $100USD)


-A bit weighty, too heavy too comfortably use during high impact exercise
-Out of the box UI is awful, custom UI is a must to get this DAP working well. So a bit more hassel to setup.
-Lower screen quality, washed out
-Resistive screen makes mistakes easier, stylus helps minimise this (but no place to store stylus like D2/D20)
-Compactly placed tactile buttons make use a bit harder imo.

What i was doing before the i9+ was to use my i9 as an exercising DAP and the C2 for work, but I still found myself regularly getting frustrated that the i9 didn't have the same choice as my regularly updated C2, it was annoying having to manage two DAPs, I just wanted one DAP and figured the sales of the i9 and C2 would contribute towards the i9+.

It's really unfair to compare the C2 and i9+ against one another tho, they are both offering different things, it might be fairer to compare the i9+ against Apples Nano player range as size and weight wise they are similar class.
But alas I have no ipod to compare it to, but it has occured to me that since having the i9+ in my hands its a stunning DAP, akin to an Apple product. Previously when telling people about a sansa product or the C2 I find myself having to justify it to an outsider assuring them the sound is incredible quality etc, the i9+ however LOOKS like an ipod killer, it's the first DAP that has good looks as well as good sound.
I really would like to see how the i9+ competes against the latest Apple Ipod Nano.


Everyone manages their music differently. Everyone looks for something different in a player, a feature that matters more to one person more than another. If you're looking for a light DAP, want uncompromising sound quality, enjoy a nice screen to which to enjoy album art to its fullest, perhaps exercise and are satisfied with 32gb of internal memory, I highly recommend this player. My search is over (well once I find where those pesky crooks have hidden it )

*Note on battery life. There is no English page that I can find for the i9+ so things like battery remians a bit of a mystery, if its anything like the i9 I think its around the 25hr mark, about half of the C2. But the C2 55hr battery life rating was overkill for me, I maybe once or twice in months of owning the device actually purposefully charged it, the act of placing new music onto the player a couple of times a week seemed to be enough of a boost to keep it at a good charge level.
On the other end of the spectrum the Sansa clips I have owned had just 5hrs or so too short a battery life. For me Sansa's clip line have sacrificed sufficient battery life for smallest possible DAP. Cowon gets the right balance imo with the i9/i9+, its small, light, less fiddly with a decent battery life.
SOURCE: Xclef (gone) | Cowon X5(gone) | Cowon D2 (dead) | Sansaclip+ RB | Sansa ClipZip RB | Cowon i9+ (32gb) | Cowon C2 (4gb)
HPs: Soundmagic E10's | Hippo VB's | UE 600's | Superlux HD 668B | Superlux HD660 | Sony XBA3 | Sony XBA2VP
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