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Old 12-20-2008, 11:00 AM
Juxxy Juxxy is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 83
Default Cowon S9 - Mini Review

This is a quick review of the Cowon S9 for those thinking of buying, I won't go into so much detail though as I'm sure most of you are waiting on better reviews from abi and other sites. Aplogogies in advance for using ImageShack, but I couldn't find anywhere else to host them.

Accessories/Extras: Nothing special here, you get a small minidisc with Cowon's Jetaudio on it, the disc works with tray drives but will not work with any slot loading drives. You also get a pair of headphones which are nothing special, a couple of guides in various languages and the proprietary USB cable.

All that's missing really for me is the plug wall charger, as one was included with the D2 I was expecting the S9 to come with one.

Design: As all of you will already will be well aware of the looks of the S9 I'll simply talk about build quality. A lot of reviewers have said it is very light and feels rather hollow or plastic, which is true. If you were expecting something along the lines of the D2 you will be disappointed, however I must stress that it's not badly built, in fact it's probably still several levels above that of other manufacturers it's just not up to Cowon's usual 'tank'esque quality.

(The Cowon has 2 'theme' choices, I find myself prefering the former but it's nice to have the choice)

UI: Cowon has made leaps and bounds in this department, the UI is much simpler to navigate and doing so is very quick with menus popping up quickly and scrolling through files in a breeze. However if you were expecting something that you could pick up and learn in and out within 10 minutes you will be dissapointed, this is much better then what we usually see from Cowon but some menu's can still be quite difficult to fathom without the 'press and see what it does' approach.

I've found the accelerometer to be very good at picking up when the player is turned on it's side (although Enzoten has had the opposite experience, whether this is firmware/hardware based is unknown). The UI is very smooth in almost all areas, however coverflow is one notable exception, using it is so laggy with long pauses and it does make you think about asking why Cowon bothered with it in the first place. Hopefully this is just a firmware issue though that can be remedied, however even if it was smooth the portrait music screen is much more useful in every way.

Other UI features such as the zooming work quite well, although unless you are short sighted there should be no problems reading the text even at the lowest magnification as the screen is really that sharp.

Audio quality:
I'm not great at discerning between small differences in sound, however you can be certain that the S9 matches (perhaps even exceeds in some areas) the D2. Through the same headphones both players sound just as good and there are largely the same customisation options in the S9 as in the D2

Video quality:
Wow... this is where this player really excels. With a decent input source the player looks fantastic, using a good conversion tool (such as handbrake) it looks absolutely stunning. I've found the S9 can play a lot of different resolutions including those above the 480x272 quoted, however it does a bad job at fixing the aspect ratio and an even wrose one at scaling it down, so to get the most you really do need to convert your video, although again if you can't stand to convert (like I know many people do) you can still watch most sources.

Also worth a mention is that the player will remember your position in a movie, so if you watch half a movie, you can come back to it later in the exact same place which is a nice touch.

Other Features:

FM Radio - nice to have, but it doesn't scan particularly well and it sets up stations just several Mhz from their source which leads to a lot of manual changing if you want to get the most out of this feature.
Bluetooth - Can't really comment as I don't have a bluetooth headset to pair it too, although the option for switching it on is easy to find and quick to do.
Microphone - Works pretty well and picks a lot of stuff up (some unwanted) but the quality is pretty good, and if there were apps to turn this into a bluetooth headset it would work, as the microphone picks up sound from in front of the player too so you wouldn't have to speak into the back of the player, which would be awkward.
Flash games - I've tried a few flash games for the Cowon D2 and found they do work, however some of the buttons aren't finger friendly and some cause intermittent crashing. List of games I've tried:

Blackjack - Works without crashing, not finger friendly.
Fishtales - Works and finger friendly but causes crashes at random intervals
Flashpad v3 - Works, relatively finger friendly and the saving option still works
qubik - Works, relatively finger friendly but still has some of the stuttering issues that the D2 version had
Gridlock - Works, kind of finger friendly (though quite difficult to move blocks first time), no crashing issues I'm aware of
Laser - Doesn't work, gets stuck at loading (left for 5 minutes, so may work but probably not useful to have a game taking 5 minutes+ to load)
Samarosti - Seems to work at first but gets stuck after intro sequence and screen goes black. However it isn't a crash as it's still possible to quit so not sure what's going on with this.
Worm beta - Works very well, no noticable lag, and the black borders of the screen (as the game is not widescreen) also count as clicks so your finger doesn't get in the way of seeing where you need to go.

I may try some others later.

I haven't really had the player long enough to judge things like battery life in real life situations but just judging by the battery meter Cowon's predictions of 55/11 seem just a bit over the top, but might be attainable depending on usage/BBE settings/Screen brightness/etc.

BBC iPlayer - BBC recently released the option to download programs for portable devices, dragging and dropping the files in MSC mode doesn't work outright. But confirmed to work in MTP, but must be synced with Windows Media Player to work.

Last edited by Juxxy; 12-21-2008 at 10:43 AM.
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