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Old 07-02-2007, 12:00   #1
Yeeze
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Tyler, TX, USA
Posts: 315
Default Cowon D2 review by Yeeze

Note: This review was originally posted in the iAudiophile forums by Yeeze (here). This review has been re-posted and lightly modified (formatting and spelling) to aid people in their decision process of buying a Digital Audio Player. The views expressed here are purely those of the author and do not reflect those of the iAudiophile staff. Thanks for reading the disclaimer ;-)


Introduction

What you are looking at is a standalone review of the Cowon D2, a touch screen controlled DAP.


It has a crazy battery life, and really crisp and clear screen. So let’s take a look on its specifications:

Specs:

General characteristics
• Capacity: 2GB & 4GB flash memory
• 2.5" 16M-color QVGA (320x240) LCD screen.
• Size: 78.0 X 55.4 X 16.6 mm (W x H x D)
• Weight: 91g
• Playback Time: Music Up to 52h, Movie Up to 10h

Audio-related specs
• Supports MP3, OGG, WMA, FLAC, WAV, APE, ASF, AAC, M4A (Rename in*.AAC),
• Dynamic Playlist supported (256 entries)
• Multi-language Supported. ID3V2 (v2.3), ID3V1, Filename Supported
• Max Output: 16 Ohm earphone: 37mW + 37mW

Video/image-related specs
• Movie playback, supports AVI format(XviD) and wmv both 30fps, it also supports DivX
• Photo album + Slide show: JPG format

Other specs
• Text: TXT(Text) File Viewer
• Controls: Touch Screen + 3 Button(MENU, VOL-, VOL+), POWER & HOLD Switch
- Custumizable Menu button
• Various EQ and Sound Field Effects:
- User-Adjustable 5-Band EQ
- Normal, Rock, Pop, Jazz, Classic, Vocal, User
- Supports BBE, Mach3Bass, MP Enhance, 3D Surround and Stereo Enhance
• Clock, Alarm, Pre-Scheduled Recording, Sleep Function, Power Saving Shut down.


Accessories

Packaging:
The D2 comes in a really nice black box. The box is covered by white stylish cover, which has the
one part of the name, it has the "2" from "D2". The "D" of "D2" is on the black box, you can pull it out. When pulling out the black box, the D2 is visible through a little window.


The box contains a plastic container, where the D2 is placed on the lit, covered by "see-through" plastic. The container contains, the manuals, software, charger, earphones, USB to USB-mini cable, the stylus, a "dummy – SD-card", and a wall charger.


Cables, earphones:
The USB to USB-mini cable don't need much of explanation, it is a standard one. The earphones are nothing special, but o.k. for listening.


Manuals:
The manual, is only some 4 pages long, and explains what to do to connect it, but not a big deal, the other stuff are the warnings, they tell you what not to do. The manual can be downloaded here.

Stylus and "SD - dummy":
The stylus has a little rubber band rope, with which you can connect it to the device, it can also be stuck in the device and you have a neat little kickstand, which works well as long you don't tip, or touch the player. The "SD - dummy" is a little SD-card shaped plastic piece that goes in the SD slot.

Optional accessories:
There is a lot accessory available at Jetmall.com it is at a fair price but I haven't tested it jet. By the way, I made a video me unboxing the D2 if you are interested look [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-EwJETJ0qM]here[/ame].

Design

The players design is pretty unique. The front is actually only the screen, which makes a lot of sense, because it is the primary input device, furthermore the player is kind of divided in three sections, a front, in my case black part, that contains the screen, and the Cowon logo, followed by a thicker middle part, where the buttons are placed on top.


On the left side, the middle part has the three outputs, the earphone jack, the USB-mini jack, and the A/C TV-out jack; the last two are behind a little plastic cap, which is easily to open, it also contains the reset button.


On the bottom side of the middle part you find the SD/SDHC/MMC card slot.


On the right side there is a little opening for the stylus, to put the rope around or if you use the stylus as kick stand.


The last part is again in black, it is the most heavy part, because it holds the battery, which also causes the most of the weight of the player. On this pat you also find the S/N and all the other information.


Data transfer

Since the D2 is plug and play data transfer is very easy; just drag and drop the files onto the player and you are done. The player also works as an SD/SDHC/MMC card reader.

File management

The D2 supports currently only browsing by filename, but this will be changed into id3 tag browsing with the coming firmware update, which could be at the end of February 2007.

Firmware update

The firmware update is easy and fast; just plug the player in, backup your data, download latest firmware from Cowonglobal.com, unzip and copy the d2N.bin file into the players root directory.
Then unplug player, it powers off, after it powers on again, the firmware will be updated, and the player will be formatted.


Make sure the player is turned off, then connect it with the computer again, and copy the two remaining files into the root directory, unplug the player, it will power off by itself, now turn it on and it will update the two files, then it powers off. And voila – the firmware update has been completed.

There is also a "font patch" available, it makes the font bigger and easier to read, just download it, it will then modify the firmware - the font patch can be downloaded here.

Converting videos

Converting videos is also very easy, just drop it in to the software choose the mode, and press start, it takes about the length of the movie with an average pc, to convert the file, and they are very crisp and nice to watch, because of the 16 Million colour screen.

Navigation


The navigation is thanks touch screen very easy, it is the exact right sensitivity, and the buttons are nice and big, so there is no problem by using the thumb or fingertip. The only thing that sometimes is a little, complicated to use the thumb with, is to tip the progress bar to reach the right spot e.g. in a two hour movie, but the stylus works for that pretty good.


All in all is the interface very quick and nice designed, easy to oversee and to understand. The slide bar which is integrated since Firmware 2.20, is a joy, in huge file directories, and a thousand times faster than a click wheel.


Screen

The screen is the heart of the player, since it almost takes the whole front with 2.5 inch. The 16 Million (24bit) colours are a visible improvement to any other 260K (18bit) colour screen, it is really pretty and makes this player a little movie theatre. The left and right angels, reach up to 175 degrees (IMO), the up and down angle is not as good, when you look at the screen from an angle to deep it inverts the colour, by an angle to high, the colours get brighter.


Angle to deep and the right one is angle to high but sharing like with the person right next to you is not a problem, and even subtitles are o.k. to read. Since the screen is pretty bright, it also can be used in the bright sun.



Sound quality

I am not a sound specialist, and cannot make any scientific statement, but for me this player sounds awesome. And what I've heard so far the sound is better than the one from iPod and comparable to the iAudio U3.

Sound enhancement

The D2 offers a lot of different enhancement for the sound. BBE, Mach3Bass, MP Enhance, 3D Surround and Stereo Enhance. A lot of people like them, a lot of people just like it flat, but I think those are really nice features, and at decent levels, they really give you better sound, but it always depends on the bit rate and quality of the music you are listening to. Since the D2 also plays video, all those enhancements work with video also.

Equalizer

The equalizer of the D2 has some preset settings like Normal, Rock, Pop, Jazz, Classic,
Vocal all those presets are adjustable, and there is also an additional User equalizer.
It is a 5-Band equalizer each from -12 to +12 on 80 Hz, 230 Hz 1 KHz, 4 KHz, and 12 KHz.

Format compatibility

This is something that Cowon is known for, its wide range of support for audio files, it supports even AAC and M4A (if it is named *.AAC) and the other standard ones like mp3, wma, WAV, ASF, APE, and FLAC, so you probably don't need to convert one track from your old music selection.

Output volume

The maximum output volume produced by the D2 is very impressive. There are 50 different volume levels, but when you reach 30 your ears already begin to hurt. So I usually listen to 9 when it is quiet around me and when it is very loud like people talking I go up to 20, but that’s about it. The max volume outputted by this device can definitely damage your ears. Since the high mW output of the D2, it can drive pretty power-hungry earphones.

Album art


Yes the D2 supports album/cover art. Since Firmware 2.20, just save the picture as *.jpg and name it either cover.jpg so all songs in the particular folder will display this picture when played, or name it name_of_song.jpg to display it only for this song. Some embedded cover art works too, but not all.

Video playback

The D2 also plays videos, it does not support a wide range of formats, but the software to encode them does, and so there is almost no video that can't be converted and played. A lot of un-encoded Xvid files work, but the playback is not optimized then, so some videos display a black screen have less frames, or the time is displayed wrong, but converting should handle those problems.


When encoded, the video playback is very smooth, and the high quality screen, displays videos very crisp... I watched already several movies on it, and it is really a joy. The 30fps makes the video very fluent, and the kickstand makes it even easier to watch videos.

The Battery


The battery is located at the back as on the picture above, and makes out about 1/3 of the size, more than 50 percent of its weight, and it is one of the main reasons to buy this device. The battery life is CRAZY, up to 50 hours music playback and 10 hours for video, in other words, you need to charge your device about once a week. This makes the player very portable and independent.
The only minus point is, it is not directly replaceable. So if it dies, either you have to open the device, or you have to send it in. But in the other way, it would have been hard in the first place to fit anything that slim and (easily-) replaceable into such a compact shell.

The charging time is with USB 7 hours, with is completely o.k. because of the incredibly long runtime, and with wall charger 3.5 hours.

FM Radio


The FM radio is easy to control and is also capable of recording, the D2 receives the signal through the earphone cable which works as antenna. It does not find all stations but most of them and the quality is pretty decent, the jet effect enhancements don't work with radio though...

Recording

The D2 is capable of recording through an internal mic, external mic, line in, and FM. The voice recorder is easy and simple to control. The quality starts at 32KBps and goes up to 256KBps, there are also 5 different volume record levels. The same thing is with line in recording. FM recording lets you choose the same bitrates.

Card Slot


The SD/SDHC/MMC card slot is also one of the biggest features of this device. In the upcoming 2.30 firmware it will support SDHC cards so the expansion of this player can be the main memory with probably a maximum of 32GB. The card can be accessed with the browser, and songs will be shuffled from internal and external memory. The access speed is very good, but depending also on the card, there are no lags in video or music only when viewing big pictures.


Image viewer


The Image viewer supports JPG images in probably all sizes, didn't find any limit yet. You can zoom in
twice, and move the picture by taping on the screen and dragging around. The viewer also allows you to rotate the picture in 90 degree angles.


Play list

There's only one built-in (on-the-go) play list to be found within the D2 - it's pretty easy to add stuff to it, but the list tends to get "overcrowded" with tracks quite easily. There is also a limitation of 256 songs, and no support of m3u play lists. Hopefully this will be added in a future firmware update.

Text viewer

The D2 has support for txt files to be viewed in the text viewer, you can choose between 5 different colours. This is nothing special but useful.

Dictionary

There will probably a dictionary incorporated in the upcoming firmware. There is nothing specific with regards to firmware or what it contains, but it will probably be English-English; Korean-English; English-Korean and Korean-Korean.

Compared to other devices

I will not lose any words about an iPod or Zune comparison, because this is not a player made to make people stuff or to limit them. But compared to the Meizu mini player aka m6 the D2 has slightly more improved features and a longer battery life. It is bigger and heavier, but IMO the battery is worth it, compared to the CLIX 2 this will be a hard battle, and I am interested which one will win, I haven't seen nor touched the new CLIX yet so it's hard to say how to compare it.


Conclusion

The down sides:
The player is a little heavier than the i.e. the Meizu m6 and lags at the time in id3 tag browsing, also it does not support yet SDHC cards.

The up sides:
The D2 is a killer, with its battery life, output specs, 16million colours, and its wide support of formats, some people will say I need more than 2 or 4 GB of storage, and also therefore the D2 is prepared via its Card slot. It was worth when it first came out in Firmware 2.00 the $200 and now after the price dropped almost 3/4 and with the 2.30 firmware it is worth much more, in other words you will not regret buying the D2 and if there are bugs Cowon will fix it with its reliable firmware updates.
__________________
Cowon D2 owner
Watch this:
- Cowon D2 unboxing
- Apple ... Think different.
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