We've read some good things about Cowon players and had high expectations of the Cowon iAudio D2 DMB. Other reviewers had raved about the audio quality and, with DAB digital radio on top, we expected a real aural treat.
We should have guessed there was going to be a let down when we opened the Cowon iAudio D2 DMB's box and found some shoddy earphones. Get rid of them fast and use a decent pair, however, and you'll soon change your tune.
Curiously, there's no aerial with the Cowon iAudio D2 DMB – odd given that it should be able to receive DMB digital TV broadcasts as well as digital radio. It also means that its strongest selling point - digital radio - is a bit of a non-starter, since stations simply cannot be picked up in most localities.
The Cowon iAudio D2 DMB also has a touchscreen, so you can directly select media using the fairly common cartoon-style icons found on many similar players.
We found the volume buttons on the top of the Cowon iAudio D2 DMB exceptionally fiddly, so it was useful to be able to adjust the volume using an onscreen sliding scale. The sound can be cranked up really quite
loud indeed, so be cautious because there's no volume limiter.
Navigation is well thought out and we quickly found items we wanted. The Cowon iAudio D2 DMB is capable of playing Mpeg4 and Windows Media Video (WMV) files, plus some DivX files, with the iAudio performing in-gadget conversions.
The 4GB memory is hardly generous, but you can load up the Cowon iAudio D2 DMB instantly via a removable SD Card. Plenty of digital media players have SD Card slots and it's a cunning way to back up photos, too.
However, we were a little disappointed with the playback quality of video clips on the Cowon iAudio D2 DMB's 320x240-pixel screen. Perhaps we've been spoilt by exposure to Apple and Sony products, but this player didn't give us much wow.
And, of course, there was the huge £169 price tag looming at the back of our minds as we put the Cowon iAudio through its paces. As with the iRiver B20, we are delighted to see DAB being incorporated into a truly compact video-enabled entertainment device. We’d just rather wait for the price premium that DAB obviously necessitates to come down.
Should DMB television broadcasts come to the UK any time soon, gadgets such as the Cowon iAudio D2 DMB could be pretty hot stuff. As it is, the less than impressive screen and lack of a decent aerial count against the Cowon iAudio D2 DMB.