A serious iPod alternative
The Cowon D2+, an updated version of the impressive D2, is a direct competitor to the popular Apple iPod Nano.
Despite not having the popular cachet of the Apple (nor does it match it in design), the entry-level D2+ is cheaper and has enough interesting features packed in to make it worth serious consideration.
Immediately noticeable is the bright 2.5in touch-sensitive screen through which the menus, playlists and applications are accessible: it was responsive and has a clear and well-presented graphical interface.
Other features of the D2+ might make iPod Nano owners jealous, such as an FM radio tuner from which it can record broadcasts, a Flash video player, a voice recorder, a notepad and a scientific calculator. There is also the option to play video from the D2+ on a bigger screen, though doing this means buying an extra cable.
Music playback is the core of the Cowon device and here it is hugely impressive, although the supplied headphones weren’t up to the job. With a better set attached, the D2+ produced vibrant audio with several adjustable presets for sound equalisation. These filter settings can be adjusted to a fine degree and there is an excellent bass boost to boot.
Video playback was likewise impressive, though actually putting video on to the D2+ proved slightly irritating because we had to convert our videos to the required format before transferring them. This can be done using the bundled software – which did a good job – though support for other common video file types would have been useful.
Though the £99 entry-level player comes with only 4GB of storage (around 1,000 songs), a further 32GB can be added using the SDHC memory card slot and, with an impressive battery life of 50 hours for audio and 10 hours for video, it should be possible to stay entertained by the D2+ on long journeys.
If you own a D2 already there is not enough here to make the upgrade worthwhile. However, the Cowon D2+ is well priced and interesting enough to make iPod fans take note, and the quality is high enough to do justice to any music collection.
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A very capable audio and video player at a good price Good points Excellent sound quality; long battery life; good touch-screen and controls Bad points Need to convert most video before playing; Mac and Linux support limited; poor supplied headphones
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