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Old 12-11-2005
robodude666 robodude666 is offline
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[Cowon A2 Review]

Prelude

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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Old 12-11-2005
robodude666 robodude666 is offline
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[Cowon A2 Review] Part 2

Music

When I first played a song I did not expect it to sound that great. The While Playing Screen (or WPS which I will to refer to it) is pretty nice. On the left side is the songs name, artist's name and album's name. Above that is a nice 2 frame animated cd which I find really stupid. That could have been replaced with some more info on the song. On the right side is the bit rate, equalizer settings, BBE, M3B, MPE and 3DS info. Above that is the time bar with the status (play, pause or stop) and the repeat/shuffle settings. Above all of that is the Equalizer (I think thats what its called. Its the thing with the bars that go up and down). Under the top bar which has the time/volume/battery is another bar with the song's file name and which number is the song (current song's number / total songs).
The pause/stop controls are also not very responsive. The player lags a bit when you try to pause a song. So then you might think you didnt press the joystick hard enough, you press harder and the song stops! Since I don't pause/stop my music a lot it does not bother me a lot.
One thing I don't like is that when you press back or A,B,C, the screen lags for a few seconds and then loads the new content but the song still plays so it is ok.

Movie

Could you say beautiful 4" 480x272 TFT LCD screen? When you select to play a movie or video file, the player first must preload the file which doesn't take a lot of time but if you have a REALLY big file it may.
As I said above, the screen is just SEXY! The image is very crisp, much better than when I play the video on my computer. A feature I really like is when the video is playing and you want to change the volume, a little bar on the bottom comes up. This is nice because it hardly covers up the video and you can still watch.
The Boot Resume option also applys to movies which I really liked. You can start a movie. Then if you are not finished with it, just turn off the player. When you turn it back on you will start right where you left off! This is very handy when you are on a ride to work/school and your bus/train came to the stop. Or if your flying in an airplane and you didn't finish the movie.
When you press back during movie playback, the file list comes up, but it comes up over the video. So you won't miss what happens in the video. Very cool I think.

Photo

I haven't used this a lot but from what I saw so far I can say its cool. In the file list, there is a little preview of the image in the top right side of the LCD. You can do a slideshow. And you can press the joystick in to zoom. It has upto 2x zoom. Press it 3 times and it goes back to full view.
You can set a photo to be the player's wallpaper which I found nice. I think it would be better if you can change the font color of the text in the player because the font color is white, and if your wallpaper has a lot of white like mine did. It is hard to read the text.
The player comes with subway maps of Korean cities. Pretty handy if you live there.

Text

I haven't used this option a lot. I only opened up the text files that came with the player which are mostly copyright notices .etc So I can't really say much about that. One thing I noticed is that it says on the top what % of the file did you read. I thought that was pretty neat.

Radio

I haven't used this much also because I wasn't able to find any radio stations that worked here. Pretty weird because my iRiver iHP-120 can pickup some stations.

Recording And AV/TV

Recording - There are 4 options for recording. Video, Audio, Radio and the built in mic. Video recording was pretty cool I must say. Very simple. Just plug in the cable that comes with the player into the unit and the tv. Press record and let it go! The two things I dont like about it is that the TV must be on for recording and you must be there to turn on/turn off the recording. I think it would be cool if you can set the player to record for x amount of time and then shut off when the time is over. So far I think that the video that is recorded from the TV is fine. Very nice quality. Before I bought the player, I read some reviews that said the AV recording was not so good. I have not used the Audio (line in) or Radio recording yet so I can't say much about them. The built in mic recording I have tried. The mic can pick up sounds far away so its pretty cool. All you lazy college people can use it to record your 3 hour lectures :P. The cool thing about recording is it creates a folder called "record" and an audio/video/voice folder in that. Then the files are named by date. audio/video/voice_yymmdd_#.ext So you can quickly find what you just recorded.

AV Out - Pretty cool. It is handy when you want to show a slide show for your family or friends, or watch a movie from your player on a bigger screen.


Battery

I have not tested out the battery to its full power. But from what I seen so far, it is pretty insane! I had it playing music for over 15 hours on a pretty high volume. I have not tested out how long the battery life is for movies but I can say it will be like 9 or 10 hours for sure! The day after I got it, I played music for about 4 hours and about 5 hours of videos and had it in the usb for about 3 hours and had it on doing nothing for about an hour. Only 2 bars were gone when I shut it off.

Miscalleneous

Case - The case is pretty cool. It is made out of leather and looks pretty durable. There is a little opening on the side which you can open so you can open the door that hides the usb/usb host/av/line in. You can also flip the cover over and use the case as a stand. Which is pretty handy when your watching a movie or something.

Over All

Overall I give this player a 9.6/10. The 0.4 was lost because of the converting software and the controls. The converting software doesn't really matter much because the Cowon A2 plays many many different codecs. The controls at first are not so good, but after you use the player and get used to it they become natural. Also since Cowon/iAudio releases new firmware pretty often, I am sure they will fix the problems of little lag, and controls.

My Order Number is: 14185 and this has been my review of the Cowon A2 30GB White PMP. I hope I helped you make a decision of whether or not the Cowon A2 is right for you. I know it is for me!

Sorry for the two posts. My full review wouldn't fit in one post.

Last edited by robodude666 : 12-11-2005 at 10:20.
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Old 12-12-2005
hongkongie hongkongie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robodude666

Recording And AV/TV

........................................
The two things I dont like about it is that the TV must be on for recording and you must be there to turn on/turn off the recording. I think it would be cool if you can set the player to record for x amount of time and then shut off when the time is over..................
In the SETUP>SYSTEM>POWER, you'll find the SLEEP TIMER which can act as the Sleep button for your recording program, meaning turning off your A2 at the end of your recording session -- maximum duration = 4 hours.

As for turning on A2: SETUP>SYSTEM>ALARM. In there, are the choices to make for turning on A2 automatically at specified wakeup time & duration. Yes, you can turn on A2 even for a recording session for Line-In Video. Check it out, you'll find it useful
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Old 12-12-2005
robodude666 robodude666 is offline
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Yea, i know about that but I am talking about there is no "real" settings for it. as in setup->recorder .etc or on the record screen itself.
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Old 06-19-2006
nikepatch nikepatch is offline
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Re: [Cowon A2 Review]

Quote:
Originally Posted by hongkongie

As for turning on A2: SETUP>SYSTEM>ALARM. In there, are the choices to make for turning on A2 automatically at specified wakeup time & duration. Yes, you can turn on A2 even for a recording session for Line-In Video. Check it out, you'll find it useful

I am looking to buy the A2, but only have one question about it. Hopefully, someone can answer it for me. It refers to the above quote. So if I set a recording by using the alarm, what is the max duration (besides continuous) I can set it to record for? I would need at least 6 hours for my needs.

Thanks for any input!
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Old 06-19-2006
robodude666 robodude666 is offline
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Re: [Cowon A2 Review]

It is good to see people interested in this player.

The Cowon A2's alarm can turn on and then turn off the player after x amount of time. It can turn it off after: continues (it wont turn itself off), 10min, 20min,30min, 50min, 1hour, 2hours, and 3hours. Sorry, no 6 hours

You can try putting in a feature suggestion for custom time (sorry if this feature exists, i never saw it)
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Old 06-20-2006
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Re: [Cowon A2 Review]

This thread belongs in the A2 forum. Thatís where youíll find the discussions concerning the A2.
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Old 09-28-2010
jerome990 jerome990 is offline
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Re: [Cowon A2 Review]

I am looking to buy the A2, but only have one question about it. Hopefully, someone can answer it for me. It refers to the above quote. So if I set a recording by using the alarm, what is the max duration (besides continuous) I can set it to record for? I would need at least 6 hours for my needs .
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