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Cowon A3 30GB Portable Multimedia Player - Cowon A3
The A3 soon starts to pull ahead of the Archos 605 WiFi, and this is thanks in the main to its incredible file format support. It will happily deal with pretty much every file type you're ever likely to come across...and then some. Not only are the usual suspects - WMV and AVI - catered for, but you can also dump DivX, plus H.264 and even VOB files ripped straight from DVD onto the device without having to re-encode them. This makes the A3 just about the most practical portable video player I've come across - there's no need to wait hours for a movie or video clip to convert before you can transfer it across, and no need to waste the precious hard disk space duplicating video on your desktop PC.
Even if you come across a file the A3 won't play natively, there's no need to panic. The excellent jetAudio software provides dedicated presets that allow you to convert files for the A3 quickly and easily, without have to fuss about with too many settings. And there's another way of getting video onto the A3 quickly and easily, too - you can record directly to the player in a variety of formats straight from an S-Video or composite source.
As well as video input the A3 also boasts video output - and it's not just limited to low resolution composite connections either. Impressively, the A3 has a component output and what's more the player comes with all the cables you need for the input and output of video, so there's no need to lay out extra cash as you do with Archos' and Apple's players.
But it's not just video file format support that's impressive: the A3 will also play the widest range of audio codecs of any player on the market. Not only are MP3 and WMA covered, but also Flac and Ogg, AAC, AAC+, True Audio, MusePack, Monkey's Audio, APE, WavPack, and Apple lossless among others. It's an astonishing list and great news if you're one of those types, like me, whose music collection is encoded in all sorts of different formats.
And don't forget that if its music and video features aren't enough for you the A3 also packs in an FM tuner, an external mic, built-in speakers and the facility to read from external USB thumb drives, hard disks and MP3 players.