Cowon iAudio D2 User Review
I've now had the player for over two months, and I've been using it up to 15 hours a day more days than what's healthy :P I use it at work, on the go, and home. Since this review was written back when I just got the player, I thought I should go over and update it big time, and make it into a new topic to clean out comments without deleting them.
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. Ipod video has 65000 colors 16 bit, ZVM 260000 colors 18 bit, so it's really impressive.The player has only a few buttons on the top (volume, menu, hold/on), the rest happens onscreen.
*battery life is said to by up tp 50 hours, and that's not a joke. This thin glasts forever! I usually watch hours of video and 20-30+ hours of sound on this thig before it goes, it's really a nice feature as I almost never have to woory about it being charged.
*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 optional AV out and line in adapters also use this.
*It supports SD cards, with full playback of all filetypes from it. SDHC is supported with firmware 2.41/3.41, which means you can use 8GB memory cards!
*Currently, there are 2GB and 4GB versions of this
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. Not really a problem though, as long as you follow the procedure, still a bit weird.
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! 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 The mach3bass has also had a very noticable effect on my speakers, the bass is so much better with it on, not as dull and "standard" as it usually is. OK, so I have Creative I-Trigue 3330 which isn't exactly audiophile, but good enough for me and they sound so much better with the D2 than other sound sources.
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. Videos must be 320x240, not higher, that's why there's a converter included. Jetaudio is a very good program in my opinion, at least for converting video. It's reaosnably fast (converts at about 2x speed on my computer) and even at 512kbs the quality is amazing. The D2 doesn't use some weird D2-only codec, so there are lots of other convertors out there.
I've watched the entire Scrubs series (season 1-6) on the D2, along with many other shows and movies, I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the video quality.
I've tested both ipod video and zen vision m, and they don't even come close.
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 is a TV cable available, TV out is still somwhat bugged but it works fine on my PAl TV when I use NTSC output(!). I see the TV out as a feature that would be nice if used with 5-7" monitor in a car, but not with big screen TVs because of the low resolution (320x240 is a lot for a 2.5" screen, not so much for a 28" one ). A little thumbs up though, TV cable is even more bugged with pre-2.41 firmwares, so watch out.
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.
The D2 seems to have problems with my DVDrips if they're not letterboxed so they are 320x240, this problem isn't present when jetaudio converts video and the output file isn't 320x240 so I don't know the reason.
The text viewer is a nice addition, it lets you display .txt files. 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 about uses this for reading maps, I tried it myself while in a big city and it got me where I wanted and back!. 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 fullscreenand still have buttons when you need them. 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. With 2.41 and above you can use MTP and also browse by ID3 tag, along with by folders. I should also mention that it doesnt have playlists that you can edit on the road, only one which is a on the go solution that i think resets itself, not sure as i haven't tried it. I recollect hearing someone say you can make playlists in MTP mode, but not without a computer. 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. There is however a new "iphone-type" scroll emthod where you drag your finger/stylus up/down etc to make it scroll. For me this has made the use of a finger instead of a stylus less accurate, as it tends to scroll instead of click.
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(HC) card is also shuffled with them. When browsing music, You first have a list of methods to browse, either album/artist/other ID3 tag, or by folder. In folde rmode, which videos/music etc also has, the SD card shows up as D" ext on the root of the folder tree.
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. With the asian firmware, 3.21 instead of 2.41, you have a dictionary function too. I Don't know the details of this as I use 2.41. Recentl, Cowon updated the jetlogo application to support the D", which means you van make your own short startup animation. Some brights minds over at iaudiophile also made a scree theme tool so that one can change icons etc, this is sure to be developed further soon I'd imagine!
A very good player with excellent battery, sound and video, and a SDHC slot which makes it the flash player with most storage atm (if the ¤GB D2 is used with 8GB SDHC card that is). Some are annoyed with the players somwhat buggy firmware, I've personally never had any trouble or lacked what I needed with this player, so it's al labout what you use it for. The disappearing bookmars thing is however one thing I have infact noticed, it's annoying when you're listening to audio books and bookmark it, only to find the bookmark have disappeared the next time you use the player.
*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(HC) cards
*Extra features, customization options
*Line in and AV out, even though the adapters necessary aren't included
*Comes with AC charger!
*MSC(UMS) and MTP, you can choose for yourself
*Standard USB mini
*Interface is very good and easy to learn
*Few external buttons
*Somewhat weird firmware upgrade
*No playlist creation on the player
*Stil few accessories available, but the number has increased a lot in the last months.
*No visible way of docking/ever implementing a remote
*Expensive if all you care about is price per GB
*Using the finger to control the touchscreen is difficult with FW 2.41+
*No onscreen volume control
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