I bought the Cowon Iaudio 10 to replace my old Creative Zen which had tottered off to the MP3
player scrapheap with a broken screen.. My main reason for choosing the Cowon was due to the
fact that Cowon have always had a great reputation for sound quality although this was also helped
along by the fact it was on offer at the time and my friend got staff discount at the shop so it cost
me £65 instead of £95.
The Cowon Iaudio 10 looks pretty good and seems to be well made. Like many brands these days
they have gone for something that looks more than a little bit like an Ipod or Iphone.but they've
kept it different enough to avoid the inevitable lawsuit from Apple. I'm still wondering how Cowon
have got away with the Iaudio name given Apples slightly over zealous protection of their brand. I
can only imagine in years to come kids alphabet charts will read A is for Apple © and I is for Ipod ©
(copyright and registered trademark of Apple) rather than I is for Igloo.
The device sits nicely in your hand and has a curved back with a rubberised coating so it doesn't slide
out of your hand when you're using it. Based on my highly technical measuring equipment consisting
of a kids ruler and the kitchen scales the Cowon measures 54mm x 114mm x 7mm and weighs around 75gm. More importantly it fits easily in your jeans or jacket pocket and doesn't feel like you're carrying
a brick around with you. The Cowon has a claimed playback time of around 38hrs music or 6.5hrs
video although I've never tested this the player easily lasts all day without charging even though I
use it constantly through earphones or through my car stereo.
Cowon have avoided going down the full touchscreen route with the Iaudio 10 so the front of the
device is taken up with a 3" TFT LCD 400 x 260 resolution screen with a 7 key touchpad underneath
to navigate the menus. The touchpad navigation takes a bit of getting used to and is sometimes
prone to not responding to the first touch then suddenly jumping back or forward 2 steps when you
try again. Although you do get used to this and it isn't a huge or constant problem the navigation
on the Cowon just isn't as slick to operate as other devices I've tried.
The screen is clear and easy to read for navigating the menu or displaying album covers and you
can also use something Cowon have called colour therapty to personalise the background and text colour on the screen. The Iaudio 10 can also be used for viewing pictures or watching videos but in reality very few people are going to bother watching videos or viewing pictures on the Cowons 3"
TFT screen if they have a smart phone in the other pocket with a 5" amoled screen. The device can
also be used to store and read text files so you can also use it as a portable storage device instead
of a pen drive.
The sound quality is excellent but only if you lose the stock earphones and use a decent set. When
I tried the supplied earphones the sound was very flat and almost muffled with very little definition. When played through my Sennheiser earphones the difference was unbelievable with clear mid and
highs and deep defined bass tones allowing you to clearly define the different parts of the track
without any frequency over powering the rest. You can tailor the sound to suit your taste using the
5 band equaliser and 39 preset options including 4 user defined preset options.
The onboard speaker is more of a gimmick than anything useful it gives a rather flat slightly tinny
sound that's ok to let hear someone hear a quick preview of a track or maybe for video playback
but that's about it. The speaker isn't loud enough for background music in a room and the sound
distorts at high volumes. Also due to the fact it is on the back of the unit it is affected by the surface
you place it on so too much vibration on hard surfaces and muffled on soft surfaces. If you want to
play this out loud you really need to buy a decent set of portable speakers to get the best from it.
The Cowon Iaudio 10 supports most file types including MP3, OGG, APE, FLAC and WAV. Thankfully
there's no need to install any software to transfer files to the player or arrange playlists. The Iaudio
just shows up as an external device when connected to your PC allowing you to easily drag and
drop files from your PC directly onto the player. Sadly there's no memory card slot so you can't add
an SD card for additional storage if you are running out of space but the player does come in 4 sizes 4gb, 8gb, 16gb and 32gb so it's best to pick one of the higher ones if you want to store lot of music.
Mine is the 16gb version which will hold roughly 4000 tracks depending on the length of the tracks
and the type of files.
One of the things I really like about this player is the ability to use it for line in recording which allows
you to record directly to the device. Although you do need to buy an additional jack to jack cable for
this it's a great way to transfer music from vinyl or cassette without buying expensive equipment.
The line in feature is also fantastic for any musician who wants to playback their practice sessions
as you can record directly from your amplifier. There's also a voice recorder mic which is handy for
taking down instructions,numbers and addresses if you don't have a pen handy.
If you want a device that has loads of features such as games, wifi, apps etc you're probably better
off looking at the Samsung Galaxy player or Ipod Touch which seem to do everything a smart phone
does apart from take calls. The Cowon lacks the gimmicks and toys but it makes up for that with
fantastic sound quality so if it's a music device you want I'd say the Cowon Iaudio 10 is worth a
look. Sadly I would say it could do with a price drop as at the current price of around £95 for the
16gb and £120 for the 32gb most people will overlook it and pay the extra £20 for the extra features
of an Ipod or Galaxy player.