"Everything works as claimed and its easy"4.5 starson by bones27
Pros: very good audio quality and volume, excellent video quality, quick backup for PC files
Cons: can't name folders from the UI, does not recharge while playing
Summary: Perfect playback of DivX and WMV files.
It also works perfectly as a USB hard drive (no special drivers) to backup critical files from my laptop. There is no virtual keyboard so folder creation and file renaming need to be done via Windows Explorer. The drive is in FAT32 format even to running chkdsk on it.
I have a library of Divx compressed movies that I have used while traveling on my laptop. All of them are compatible with the Cowon A2. I also have a library of MP3's created at several different rates and with multiple technologies. So far all are compatible with the Cowon A2.
The resume at point of power off for video and audio files is very convenient especially for those of us who travel and are interrupted by airline security rules. Menu navigation is quite simple. My only complaint is that it is not simple to end a movie playback.
Radio works with reasonable sensitivity if you remember to connect your headphones as the headphone wire is the FM antenna.
The built in microphone does adequate quality and level recording for general conversation.
If the battery life for video playback is 10 hours as in the Cnet review then I will count this as a major success.
I did look carefully at the Archos AV500 before purchasing the Cowon A2. The Archos AV700 with its 7 inch screen was just too large to easily stick in a pocket while changing planes.
The Archos AV500 30GB has less than half the battery life in video playback (rated 4 hours). The advantage of the Archos is that it is DRM compatible so music can be downloaded from sites such as Playfair and macrovision protected DVD's can be transcribed to the Archos. If DRM compatibility is your priority then the Archos is the right choice. Otherwise, the size, features, video quality, audio quality, and USB drive functions are all very very similar between the two units. At $550 minimum for the Archos AV500 30GB with second battery (total of 8 hours video playback) compared to $380 for the Cowon A2 30GB (10 hours video playback), the Cowon was the clear winner for me.
I did try to buy the Archos AV500 100GB with 8 hour extended life battery but the 100GB model is no longer available even direct from the manufacturer. At under $600 (after rebates), it would have been worthwhile for the extra 70GB of capacity.