Friday, August 25, 2006

Cowon iAudio 6 - Still Don't Get the Hard-Drive

Cowon has been pumping out great mp3 players lately. One of these is the new Cowon iAudio 6, equipped with a .85" hard drive. This, my friends, I don't understand. In a player of its dimensions, smaller than many flash players (35.6 x 76.1 x 19mm), what is the benefit of having a hard drive with moving parts? Small-sized mp3 players are likely to be tossed in bags, moved around, and exercised with, but Cowon removes this benefit from the iAudio 6. Why, I don’t know. In testing, the buffer time was considerably longer than most any flash player. The price isn't anything cheap either, $224.00 at Newegg for the 4GB.

I suppose it makes up for the lack of flash memory with a plethora of features, including video playback (only 15fps) on its solid 260K colour screen, Voice recording, FM recording, Line-in recording. When tested, the audio quality was above average, driving even larger, more demanding headphones, such as the Grado SR-125s, to very respectable volumes. Battery life is listed as 20hrs, although in testing it got around 15.

The interface bogs down frequently when loading large data, but nevertheless is very good and easy to use. The touch-pad is far too sensitive
and not accurate, I would have liked to seen some tactile controls here. A nice touch, holding the touch pad down in certain areas gives way to user-defined shortcuts...Much like the shortcut button on the ZVM.

Bottom line -
if you can get by the fragility of hard-drive players with moving parts, and can get used to the annoying touch-pad (which will hopefully be improved in a future firmware), the Cowon iAudio 6 is one of the top small-capacity DAPs out there.

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