Pros -Sound Quality is the best I've heard personally from a portable music player.
-The video quality from the AMOLED screen is amazing.
-Strong but light.
-CORNING GORILLA GLASS covers the screen, not plastic. Incredibly strong
Cons -Default user interface is poor in places (coverflow, but that can be disabled now) and good in others. However, there are many user interfaces being made by owners and designers already, so they can be changed.
Summary First off, the looks.
Looks really nice, it's light. Now some people have said it is too light for it's size, I find it fine. It's all plastic(apart from screen), though I like it quite a bit. The back is this curved dark brown/black matte finish which is pleasant looking, it features the reset button and the microphone hole. The sides are also curved titanium looking finish. And if you haven't seen the front, it is an extremely attractive looking device, the 3.3" screen fits flush with the rest of the body. Bottom left is the hidden USB connection, bottom right, is your ON/OFF, HOLD buttons and in between these is your headphone jack. Top right is your skip track buttons, and top left is your dedicated volume buttons which are all very welcome in this design.
Dedicated buttons are a huge plus since you can disable touch screen controls when it's in your pocket and simply skip songs using the tactile ones without taking it out. The top middle protrusion acts as a pause/play button, very nice touch.
Next up, the interface.
There has been a huge amount of complaining in some reviews about the UI. I can see some of their points, but only if your a complete novice to the device, after that, it's very easy to navigate and I find myself flying through Artists, albums and songs in seconds flat. The double tap works just fine and takes very little time to get used to.
The look of the interface when browsing files is simple but effective, though it's not mind blowing. One of my favorite things about this PMP, is the "Now Playing" Screen. I have album art on all my songs, and the such is the quality of the AMOLED screen, that they really jump out at you if you've used a high quality picture. There are many ways of skipping through tracks, all of them easy to do and very nicely planned, except the cover flow, which I have disabled (I'll come back to that). My favourite is the swipe left or right over the album art to skip songs, it works very well.
The way people are complaining about the interface gets to me a bit. The main complaint seems to come down to the fact that it doesn't mimic the Apple Touch's UI in every way. If you want to compare it to the touch, fine, but realize that the Cowon gives better sound and plays video more clearly, I have put them side by side, same video, same music, using the earphones that came with each of them. Cowon wins in that department.
The sound and equalizers are hands down, the best of any mp3 player or pmp I've used. Now I work in a place that sells Ipods, Creatives, Samsung, Sandisk, Archos etc, you name it, we got it (except for Cowon players). I've used them all. The sound on the Cowon S9 genuinely out performs all the ones I've used in my shop. The BBE equaliser setting are especially recommended. I use the BBE Mach3Bass currently. And for those who want to know how loud it goes. I put a song onto an Ipod touch (Go with the flow by Qotsa) and the same one onto the S9. I could listen to it on full volume on the Apple, but 36 out of 40 on the S9 is the most I could bear. Now that's a comparison! Use high quality music on your player. I'm a fan of 320kbps on mp3 or wmv. Or I sometimes have some FLAC too.
The video is of such a high quality. Most of my videos are Avi (Divx), so they all went straight on, no conversion needed. The video screen as the player is upright shows the video near the top, with the bitrate and quality info and equalizer settings underneath it. Flip it on its side, and it's fullscreen and widescreen. The quality must be seen to be believed, as clear as a bell. It's the framerate that impressed me so much though, no blurring. Incredibly smooth. I knew it would be good, just not that good!
Radio. This is something I've struggled to understand about some reviews since I got the player. I would have been forgiven in thinking that it would be useless based on them. However, I used it while travelling from Clonsilla to Maynooth (in Ireland, by no means a fantastic reception area) on the train and it scanned and stored all the stations just fine. It is clearer than my Zen Vision :M (R.I.P) and my Samsung YP-k3. So where did all the negativity come from about the radio? The interface for it is so cool, the virtual dial is so much fun it actually makes me use the radio more than I usually would.
Coverflow, I promised to get back to this, now I will. When on the "Now playing" screen in music, if you flip it on it's side, (given that you have this function enabled) it will go into cover flow mode. Now it is utterly pointless in my view, and poorly done. It doesn't do coverflow between different albums, it does it between all the songs in the album you have currently selected! I have no idea why they did this. Since the picture is just the same for all songs in an album, however it does give the song name. I disabled the accelorometer in music mode. It's just pointless. Once I disabled it though, I didn't need to worry about it.
Pros Brilliant, multimillion-color AMOLED screen blows away others
Superb sonic characteristics w/custom equalization/enhancement
Management of many file types, via tags or folders in MSC or MTP modes
Updates and bug fixes via regular firmware upgrades
Cons Slick but sometimes slow UI still needs more refinement
No support (yet) for non-DRM AAC (iTunes), Audible.com, or h.264/MP4 video
Summary ... is the "plastic screen 3.75 x 4.25 inches." Try more like an active area of 2 7/8 by 1 5/8 inches, or 3 1/3 inches diagonally in widescreen format. Otherwise, your review was pretty fair, although I might suggest that music-lovers who buy iPods tend to not know what they're missing due to limited experience beyond iPods.
Pros - Plays any file (except maybe h.264) without needing any conversion whatsoever
- Unparalleled audio/video quality
- You'd be hard-pressed to find an interface option you need that isn't on the S9.
- Starts up fast, loads files fast.
Cons - No Wifi
- Recharge port cover is clunky, hard to remove.
- Interface somewhat complex/requires learning curve.
- Feels light
- Not an Apple product, so must be downrated to reflect paper-thin yet safe illusion of Itouch's unassailable superiority.
Summary It's shameful to suggest that the itouch should win points for ease of use in a post-S9 era. You can put basically any file onto the S9 and it will start up (really fast) and play it. There's no conversion required, no messing with aspect ratios, poor sync, codecs (Maybe h.264 files. Maybe). You can put ANY file on this like any flash drive and S9 will play it, as if you had a fully codec'ed out windows media player in the palm of your hand.
The interface is SLIGHTLY complex, but that's only because it has many useful options, like a tilt-sensor lock that prevents it from going into landscape mode. You can organize your music by folders or by playlist... so I guess if you are too accustomed to itunes organization by IDv3 tag, you might not like the elemental drag-and-drop style that Cowon uses (and that you use every time you do anything on your PC or mac). The recharge port cover for the 20-pin usb connector is kind of clunky and it feels light, though never delicate. You also won't have wifi or access to the vaunted Apple app store.
However, the S9 performs the core functions of a PMP device like playing audio and video files so far above its competition that it's hard to take the negative reviews seriously in light of itouch's glowing status as the gold standard of PMP players.
The ipod touch may be better at being an iphone without the phone, but the S9 is inimitably better at being an Ipod.
Donald Bell gives the lie to fairness and dedicates most of his S9 review to rehashing embarrassing anecdotes about how the editors "thought the S9 felt like a toy" or "thought the play/pause button in the top middle of the device was a stylus". Seems more befitting of Derek Zoolander trying to get files out of the computer rather than a Cnet editor.
Whether your negative assessment is an attempt at using a collection of apocryphal anecdotes to disguise your unwillingness to unseat the Ipod touch from its hardware-reviewer-polished paper throne or not... The S9 is an excellent player. Its interface is not clunky, in my opinion, it is simply loaded with options. There's a learning curve. You get that when you want to do many things. And if you don't want to do many things, then you can either 1) not do them on the cowon and enjoy your easy-to-use PMP without video/audio conversion woes or 2) go back to the itouch and get awed by everything in it that distracts from the fact that it is a subpar audio/video player for no apparent reason other than Apple is too lazy to allow you to play xvid wmv avi etc etc etc.
In fact, I would say Cowon's only crime is not being an apple product and being reviewed by a host of reviewers who would rather reflect market share in their reviews rather than be honest.
Pros Amazing screen with bright vibrant colors and smooth action in videos. Touch controls are spot on. Good menue system. Amazing audio quality. Flash support. Great battery life
Cons Flash support is so so, video can occasionally stutter on non optimized files, some occasional slowdown between menu screens.
Summary This is by far one of the best portable multimedia devices I have ever used. The video quality is great and even though there is an occasional slowdown or sputter in the frame rate (it's very rare I've only see it happen once or twice) the over all experience is well above average. Did i mention the screen? Amazing color gamut from this screen and great deep blacks, crystal clear whites, and bright vibrant colors from everything in between. If this is what oled technology (amoled specifically on this device) has to offer I can't wait for it to hit the home theater market. Thanks to the low power requirements of the display the battery life on this device is great. I spent the better part of the day listening to this device then sat down and watched a feature length film and still had more than 75% power left on the system and this was with the display set to the max brightness. The audio quality is simply amazing, I am a big audiophile and have had 4 mp3 players over the last 3 years and have used and tested countless others from various brands including apple, iriver, creative, and archos and this bests them all in audio. In movie and music playback the sound is great and crystal clear through the entire range (I am using the koss portpro headphones). Great audio codec support which is the main reason I purchased this player and plays almost anything you can throw at it audio wise.Meant to give this product a 4.5 star rating not a 4
This player is stellar but not without it's downsides. Though it's nice to see flash support on an mp3 player it is a bit of a bust as many flash files either run poorly or actually lock up the system. The menue system isn't as intuitive as it could be but is still easy enough to learn. As stated earlier the video can sometimes slow down but it's not a deal breaker and doesn't happen often. Has bluetooth but doesn't offer an option to synch via it, though it could possibly be added in a firmware update it's still a letdown to not have that from the get go with this player.
Other than that not many complaints about this system, great all around performance sleek sexy look that is still easy to identify with it's curved back to stand out from the rest of the ipod touch clones. Minor gripes aside (many of which may be fixable via firmware updates) this is a great player that is just shy of perfection. This is the first cowon player I have owned but probably won't be the last and I am very much looking forward to the follow up to this player. (wifi and browser please)
Updated on Jan 10, 2009
Pros It's not flimsy, it's light - thats the whole point of the OLED screen. Try and scratch the screen, I bet you can't. If you don't wan't the best quality sound and video you can get for £200 then buy an ipod - you f*****g deserve eachother!
Cons I am very unhappy that this product does not get the credit it deserves. It is the best PMP on the market, the best MP3 available and yet the sheep still buy ipods.
Summary Stop buying into the ipod brand, why do it - there is nothing they do better than anybody else, you are paying extra to look like an idiot that has no clue about audio or video quality. I laugh at you all.