iAudio D2 user review
Had the player for 5 days now and thought i should let you know what my first impressions are, I've been playing around A LOT with it so I've gotten to know its capabilities!
First some important specs:
*Size is REALLY small, the screen is big but the player itself isnt much bigger than the screen, giving it a very nice look.
*Screen is a 2.5", 320x240pixel, 24bit, 16.2million color touchscreen. The player has only a few buttons on the top (volume, menu, hold/on), the rest happens onscreen, and it's all more than large enough for you to use your fingers! According to dfkt, ipod video has 16bit colors, zen vision m has 18, and windows xp has 32. Bits are "kind of logaritmic", i.e the difference between 16 bits and 18 bits is much bigger than the difference between $16 and $18, if you catch my drift. As acomperison, the sansa e200 series have 65500 colors, so 16.2 million is quite a difference.
*battery life is said to by up tp 50 hours, and that's no overstatement. I've been playing with it for 5 days now, many hours a day, video as well as music, and I still havent recharged it. It has been recharged a bit while connected to the pc, but not much, an hour alltogether at most.
*Codec support: It does mp3, wma, ogg, flac, ape and wav. When it comes to video, it does mpeg4 and wmv, with xvid being my codec of choice. More on that later.
*It requires no weird dock connectors, it uses standard mini usb for computer connection. However, it does utilize an even smaller usb version for charging with AC adapter, and the upcoming AV out and line in adapters also use this.
*It supports SD cards, with full playback of all filetypes from it. No sdhc yet, so 4GB non-sdhc cards are the limit for now. 8GB sdhc support will probably come in the future
*Currently, there's 2GB and 4GB versions of this, (8GB's in Asia i think (not sure).
When I first got it I upgraded the firmware, this is a somewhat odd process that involves transfering a file from the computer, upgrading, then turn on with scrambled interface, connect again, transfer two more files, and updtae a second time. Easu really, as long as you follow the procedure! No-one will have a problem with this if they do that.
Audio quality is great, especially so for me who used to have a sansa. You have a 5 band eq and some sound enhancement features like bbe and mach3bass, that are really cool! You can save up to 10 profiles, each profile is a saved set of EQ/bbe++ settings so you can have different settings for i.e in ear phones, big headphones and speakers. Really useful, aves you from tampering with everything all over again each time you switch. Have only tried mp3 on this yet, and that works great, the sound enhancement features work really well, and the 74mw output makes it one hell of a loud player! Findig your preferred settings takes some time,but it's fun to hear the difference between mach3bass enhanced bass and EQ enhanced bass! People who generally know a lot about audio won't be disappointed, and people who have had players like the sansa will be scared when hearing this thing, as it's a completely different type of player, quality-wise
I've tried finding a way to describe the video quality on this thing, but have failed to do so, as no-one could ever believe it until they saw it. The screen is so clear it amazed me at once, and still does. Some videos have audio sync issues, but thats the converters fault, not the D2. Vidoes must be 320x240, not higher, that's why there's a converter included. But this isnt aa weird d2-only video format, so there's heaps of converters out there!
Yesterday and today i started ripping original DVD's straight to xvid, to get perfect quality videoes for it. I found that 3D animated movies like Shrek, MAdagascar, ice Age +++ really utilize the full potential of this screen, as they have a lot more fresh colors than real life movies and really shine on the D2. I now have Shrek, Shrek 2 and Madagascar on my D2, and the rips are just amazing, look below for video and screens!!
I'm going to convert all my original 3D animation DVD's for the D2, as the quality makes them incredible to watch. I've tested both ipod video and zen vision m, and they don't even come close, watching the D2 is like watching the zen vision m and then realizing there were a dirty piece of glass on top of the screen all along
Real life shows also shine on this thing, but they are limited by the source files, TV rips aren't always that good. Of course you can rip DVD's with TV shows too. The screen is exactly 4:3, so normal 4:3 shows utilize the entire screen. There hasan't been released a TV out cable yet so I don't know about the quality of that, but when put on a TV it will still only put out 320x240 which is 1/4 of tv screen resolution (normal tv, not hdtv or widescreen).
The D2 doesnt support more than 128kbps constant bit rate mp3 audio for video as far as i know, BUT you can use all the EQ/bbe/mach3bass+++ settings during video playback too, so music videoes sound really good. With the DVDrips, the effect is also very good, with really good bass and everything on the soundtrack, not the flat sound that some players have.
I made a video, but youtube has been acting up, maybe it works now:
Also took some screens.
Remember that both the video and screens are taken with a cheap camera, and still it looks very good, so imagine how they look in real life!
NEW INFO: February 20
I little letdown from cowon, the player doesn't seem to handle non-qvga sized videoes well even if they are under 320x240. I tested ripping a chapter from the American Pie dvd into a 320x180 (16:9 widescreen on the D2), it played but the video got a bit scrembled. When i added letterbox/padds/black bars (whatever you call it ) to cover the last 60 lines of pixels, it worked fine.
What does this mean for you?
Well, for most people, not much, as not many knows how to really rip DVD's. Those who do, need to run the 320x180 pix file through some program to add letterboxing after the rip, if you're not using something that does it for you.
Not nearly a "omg no why did i buy this player"-problem, just means you're rip will take a bit of extra time. Of course this also gives you another point to add on the list when you explain to the jetaudio user just how good you are to make such good quality videoes
NEW INFO: February 22
Seems like videoes converted in jetaudio isn't automatically letterboxed, HOWEVER these don't have the problem with the scrambled video that i got with dvdrips. Both are xvid, so it might be that I used 512kbs in jetaudio while the rips are about 650kbs, but i really don't know.
NEW INFO: MARCH 5:
Got a TV out cable from Santa Claus () today and it works fine! Tested it with my portable dvd. There is a weird green line showing at the top on some vids, not all green but a greener version of the real video. Outpus is of course 320x240 so using this on a (big) TV might be... interesting Anyways doubling the screen size using my portable DVD worked well, though no screen comes close to that of the D2 so you'll be giving away quality for size, which is OK sometimes Anyways, enjoy this pic:
EDIT: i get black/white only on TV, and PAL/NTSC is set correctly. Weird, others get the same
The text viewer is a nice addition, it lets you display .txt files. I have over 100 books on my player, which equals under 50 MB(!). Most are pocket books, but also big novels like the LOTR trilogy. It displays nice on the screen, but this is a function I myself wont be using much, though i reckon a lot of people would use this!
Photos on this screen displays really well, and you can also zoom bigger pictures. One person i heard aboutuses this for rading maps, I myself tried some cartoons. It's a bit slow, depending on the file size, but still nice! You can also set pictures as wallpapers, which then applies to all screens and not only the main menu screen.
Haven't tried either of these much. I do know that it records to wma, up to 256kbps. The line in adapter which will hopefully be released within a couple of weeks will be a nice addition and will make the record funtion more useful. As for the radio, i know some peope have said that the reception is a bit bad. Myself i dont use the radio, so i really dont know.
The interface is very well made, the screen is easy to use even without the stylus and everything is exactly where it should be. Only thing to annoy me yet is that when browsing pics, the next/previous buttons and some menu buttons pop up for you to use, but i havent find a way to make them go away without exiting the pic and reopening each one, so basically they cover a lot of the screen when flipping through photos. There might be something i missed here. On music and video, the "close" button that pops up with these mentioned buttons makes the whole buttons meny go away, but in photo mode it also closes the picture. So, this doesnt apply for music and video, there's no problems viewing video fullscreen, IMO its way more intuitive than any computer media player. The buttons pop up on top of the picture, so you can jump to another point in the video, pause, apply settings like EQ and soon without really taking your eyes off the playback.
The music interface is also very well made, here's a screenshot:
As you can see, the album art shows while playing. It can either be embedded in the id3 tag, or as loose files. cover.jpg applies to any files in the folder that doesnt have its own album art, while *filename of the song*.jpg shows up as album art for *filename of the song*.mp3. Though the D2 does show id3 info, you can't browse by it, so you have to know the filename of the song to find it.
I should also mention that it doesnt have playlists, only one which is a on the go solution that i think resets itself, not sure as i haven't tried it. Having folders is your only real alternative to playlists. The browser interface doesnt work as well as on the sansa which has a scroll wheel, as the scrollbar doesnt really "scroll" as much as it just jumps to another point on the bar.
On the music playing screen, you have all info you need, as shown on the screenshot. There's a visual VU meter for both channels, id3 info, EQ/bbe++ info, bitrate and sampel rate info and the three boxes in the middle that show repeat, shuffle and boundary info. Boundary means that you can choose whetever or not the repeat/shuffle goes for only a folder or all files. When shuffling all files, the ones on the SD card is also shuffled with them. When browsing, the SD card is in a completely different directory, so you have to go all the way up to the root of the browser to switch from browsing SD to browsing built in memory.
One important thing to point out is that this thing is 100% drag and drop, there's no MTP mode on the player, which IMO is very nice! It shows up as a rmoveable drive on your computer, no weird annoying programs necessary.
There are some "hidden" features here and there that might not be a reason to buy it, but sure makes a good addition! I myself is were found of the timer functions! You can set it to turn off automatically after a set period of time, for use at night as a sleep timer. It can also turn itself on and either play music, put on the radio or record the radio(!). The last funtion is meant to be used for recording shows you don't have time to watch, like a radio-VCR. Another cool funtion is the karaoke-like lyrics it can display. Using a free program called ldb manager, you can search and embedd lyrics into the music files, which then not only displays on screen but that also has a marker to show what word is currently being sung. The database is very limited for now and I dont think you can do it yourself just yet, but it's still very fun to watch the player mark the lyrics as they are being played! If you like weird sounds you can also increase or decrease the speed of the songs, rather funny at times listening to songs go twice as fast, but the usefullness is rather limited i'd imagine.
A masterpiece of a player, with almost everything you could ever dream of, and excellent video quality! If you can afford one, this would be the top candidate in many classes if you ask me, and it's all in all a really good player, one of those that you have been asking yourself why no-one made before now. No major flaws, it all runs smoothly.
*Small, but still has a big enough screen
*Screen is second to no other
*Video and audio both really good
*Lot of options to tweak the audio
*Output of 74mw is enough for even bigger heavily driven headphones
*Expendable memory with cheap SD cards
*Line in and AV out, even though the adapters necessary aren't included
*Comes with AC charger!
*MSC/UMS/drag and drop
*Standard USB mini
*Interface is very good and easy to learn
*Few external buttons
*Somewhat weird firmware upgrade
*No id3 browsing
*Only case available is expensive (over $50)
*No visible way of docking/ever implementing a remote
*Expensive if all you care about is price per GB
*Enzo mentioned that the sound is distorted at high volumes when using both EQ and mach3bass(?)
NOTE: there are some rumours that id3 browsing, MTP and some more features will be implemented in the next firmware. Still only rumours at this point though!
I've probably forgotten a lot, I'll add things and leave a "updated" message if i add anything.
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