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Cowon iAudio 7 Review Addendum

Last week, I wrote a review of the Cowon iAudio 7 player, which I had just received. Now that I’ve used it for a week, I have a few things to add.

In the past week of using the Cowon iAudio 7, I’ve discovered:

  • There are absolutely no PDF manuals online explaining how to use the iAudio 7. If you buy this player, be prepared to do some serious trial and error to figure out its day to day functions. Only really basic functions (play/pause, skip to the next track) are intuitive. Everything else makes no sense.
  • As an example, I found out that, contrary to what I’d said in my last review, that you can manually assign radio station presets (you are not stuck with autoscan), but I found it completely by accident. First, you make sure not to do the autoscan. Then, go to the radio and browse to a station you want. Then, press the menu button once. Then, tap and hold for less than a second the play/pause button. A little context menu will appear, and then select to assign it to that preset channel spot. Sound confusing? It is!
  • I’d read a couple of places online that browsing by ID3 tags (instead of by folder) worked only for MP3s, not Oggs. No one mentioned that if you enable it when you have Oggs and you’ve also enabled autoplay (meaning that the player will immediately start playing music when you turn it on) that the player will just freeze up completely. So that was definitely an experiment gone sour. I could not reset it with the reset button. I had to plug it in to my computer and erase every file and then reload the firmware to get it working again. Needless to say, I’m sticking with browsing by folder.
  • Even though the controls are sensitive, you can adjust the sensitivity, and it took me about two days to get used to how much pressure I should apply in order to skip a song and not fast-forward two seconds. Frankly, I think there should be a way to disable fast-forward altogether. I never want to fast-forward. I only want to skip or stay.
  • The battery life is good. I still haven’t had 60 hours of listening to time to test the manufacturer’s claims, but I’ve listened to it for probably about 7 or 8 hours with nary a bar in the battery meter disappearing.
  • Radio reception is great. I listen to the radio every morning on the way to work, and it’s crystal clear all the way (on my old Sandisk, there were patches of fuzzy sound).

In summary, I’d say my main draws to this player (and why I’ll probably be sticking with it, despite its bugs) are its size, its price, its ability to play Ogg, its battery life, and its inclusion of a radio. There are some serious bugs, though, that I think Cowon should work on (Does Cowon take bug reports or customer feedback? Anyone know?). With controls as sophisticated as the player has, a detailed manual is a must-have. And touch-sensitive controls may sound cool, but they’re really annoying when you are worried you’ll accidentally skip to the next song or pause—stick to regular buttons, folks.

That about sums it up for me. More on battery life later.

Edit (3 January 2008): The last bar finally went out on my iAudio 7’s battery. It lasted a little over a month. I didn’t time the exact hours, but I don’t think it was 60 hours. 60 hours is probably what they test on using the radio exclusively with the display off and continuously until the battery runs out. My guess is that it was probably closer to 50 hours. Nevertheless, that’s a pretty impressive battery life!

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