[Cowon A2 Review]
I have been wanting a PMP for a while. First I looked at iRiver's PMP and PMC but then from user reviews I saw that it lacked. So they were removed from the list. I then found out about the Cowon A2. At first I thought, "Man! Another PMP," but boy was I wrong. I searched for an image of it and I saw how beautiful it is. I searched about it on some search engines and I learned what I needed to know. Then someone told me about the Archos AV500. I opened up the Archos website and read about the AV500. I then saw that the Cowon A2 was right for me. It can play a larger variety of file formats, which is good because I have tons of different video files on my computer and I was scared the PMP wouldn't accept them. The Cowon A2 also had a much greater battery life, which I will talk about further down in my review.
Packing And Delivery
Delivery - Since I ordered it with Next Day Air I don't know how fast it would have came from normal post but I can say that on the Cowon America website, it said it would take 1-2 days to get the package ready and then another day for it to come. And it was true! It came at 10AM 3 days later. Since no one was home at that time, I had to go to the post office and hunt down my box. But that wasn't Cowon's fault. So everything is good
Packing - When I took out the box from the shipping box I was really surprised. The box, as the player, is also very beautiful. The box has a slide on type of covering. After you take it off you open up the box. The manual w/ CD and warrenty paper is inside a little box on the top. Under that is a plastic covering with the player right inside it. When you remove the plastic covering there is another box under it which holds all the accessories. I thought the packaging was very smart and space saving.
Online Store - The status does not update. Right now the status is still on "Ready To Ship" even though I already have my player. This didn't bug me because UPS sends out an email with your tracking number and you can get upto date info on your package from ups.com
Design And Interface
Looks - The Cowon A2 is about 5.24" x 3.07" x 0.87" in size and about 10oz in weight. It has a beautiful case thats in white and grayish. There is a little loop hole on the top for a strap, which I find nice. The body of the player seems to be made out of some sort of plastic and it doesn't get scratched up as easy as some of the other players. Its good that it doesn't because the case (see bottom for review on case) does not cover up every bit of the player. The corners and part of the bottom sticks out.
Button Interface - The Cowon A2 has 3 buttons: "Back", "A", "B", and "C" on the right side of the player. Above that is the Joy stick controller and there is a little LCD light in the corner which has many uses. The layout of the buttons takes a bit of time to get used to, but after enough time it feels natural. The joystick itself is very small, so guys with big hands might find it uncomfortable. Sometimes when you move the joystick your finger could slip and you move the joystick in the other direction. The joystick has these functions: Left and Right movement will change the song/file or change the option. Up and Down movement will change the volume or change the option. Pressing the joystick in will select or pause the song. Holding it in will stop the song. At first all of this might be a bit confusing, but after some time you will get used to it. Enough about that silver joystick. As I said before there are also 4 buttons. The "Back" button does what it says, it goes back in the options or goes to the file tree. On the bottom of the Cowon A2's 4" 480x272 TFT LCD are 3 boxes, if you would call them that. In each "box" there is either an A, B or C and some text. These boxes tell you what function does the A, B or C button have for this page. That is very handy because you can create many different pages and use the three buttons.
LCD and LCD Interface - The boot time is very short. Which I Really like. Upon boot, there are 8 icons. You can select so the Cowon A2 resumes play when you boot it. They are: Movie, Music, PHoto, Text, Browser, Radio, Record and Setup. You would use the joystick to navigate through the icons and press the joystick to select one of them. After one is selected, it would quickly go to the next page. If you select Movie, Music, Photo, or Text you are sent to a file list. The file list shows all the folders that have file ext. of the corrosponding option (ex: if you select photo, it would show all the folders that have images in them.) That is pretty cool because you can just load all your files into the root folder and the Cowon A2 will show you which ever file types you selected (movie, music, photo or text). The Browser will show you the root folder and everything in it. You also go into USB Host mode from the Browser, which I will talk about further down in my review. On the top of the LCD there is a bar with: what you are doing now, volume, time (which can be set in the setup option) and the good old 4 bar battery. I would be happy to describe all the other options on the lcd such as setup but that would take too much time. The screen is very bright and crisp, I will talk more about that in the Movie section of this review.
File Transfer, Management, Manual And Software
Management - What can be said about the management? It is great! Just plug the usb in, the player notices the usb and goes into USB mode within seconds! Select the hard drive on your computer and just drag and drop or copy and paste your music, movies, photos or text files! The player comes with folders for each type, but you don't need to use them. The player will detect the file types when you go into the different modes. On the CD comes a program called "JetShell PRO" which is a file management program for the iAudio/Cowon Players. You can install it and play around with it but I prefer the good old copy and paste. You are able to delete files right on the player! Just be in the file list, select the file press right, scroll down to "Delete" and select. One thing I don't like is that you can't delete folders. That has to be done on the computer.
Transfer - I was not so happy with this. I am not 100% sure how fast USB 2.0 really is supposed to be. But I think it shouldn't go at 1.7MB/s (thats only about 2.8% of USB 2.0's top speed). When you plug the USB Cable in, the player does see it right away. But then it shuts down and when you unplug the usb cable, you need to reboot the player. A great thing though, is you don't need to have the player on to plug the usb cable in! The player will go into USB Mode even if it is turned off.
Manual - If you just look at the manual, you may think that the player can not do much. The manual is very poor in my opinion. Thankfully, I figured everything out myself.
Software - This is the part where I am most upset. The CD comes wiht jetAudio, jetCast and jetShell PRO. jetAudio is the program used to convert audio/video files to a codec the player accepts. For some reason the player did not accept my WMV9 files so I had to convert them. Man was that slow! In order to convert the files, it runs them all first! Not only that but if you want it done as fast as possible, you must giveup your full CPU to it. Meaning you can't do anything else, unless you like working with lag. You can pick so that the converter program only uses 10-30% of the CPU, but you will just need to wait longer. I had about 10 hours of video to convert. Thankfully I left my computer on overnight to convert the files and when I got up, there was only about an hour or so of work left to do. Two things that I do like about the converter program is: it made my 5.2GB of video files into 1.78GB, which is nice because I can fit more onto the player now. Also another thing that I liked is the converted files had a much higher quality. Before in the original files you can see bunches of pixels around the peron's face. In the converted file, the whole image was cleared up. Another thing I didn't like about the converter program is that it puts a Cowon watermark in the top right corner of the video and it stays there for the first few seconds of the video. I really didn't like that.
USB Host - I connected the usb host to my old iRiver iHP-120. Cowon A2 picked up my iriver right away and even said "iRiver iHP-100 series" on the screen. USB Host is pretty simple to use. Just go into browser, press the "C" button. The screen is then split into 2. The left side stays as your cowon a2's browser and the right side becomes the file list of the device you are hosting to. You just select the file you want, push the joystick to the right and select copy. The one thing I didn't like about USB Host is that you cant copy whole folders, as far as I could tell. You can only copy single files. Which could be a pain if you want to copy over 1000 vacation photos and dont have a card reader!
Last edited by robodude666 : 12-11-2005 at 10:20.
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