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Cowon iAudio D2+ 4GB - Cowon D2+
The user interface has had more of an overhaul, replacing the relaxed, blue GUI of the original D2 with one broadly similar to that of the O2 we looked at a few months ago. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan. First, it's built for a stylus not a finger, practically forcing you to use the odd triangular ‘pick' you'll find in the box, which attaches to the player via an elastic loop. Screens are cluttered, fiddly and there are often too many cryptically labelled buttons and indicators on display at any one time.
The menus aren't particularly intuitive and it always seems to take two clicks to find an album or track, when it should take one. If you do plump for one of your own pinkies instead of the stylus you will find it takes a bit of prodding before you get results, but at least you can take better advantage of the sweeping gestures used to scroll through long lists of tracks or albums. Yet even here Cowon knows its market, with the GUI offering features that owners of other players always seem to be crying out for. Dynamic playlists? Not a problem. Want to set how long tracks take to fade in? The choice is yours.
Further, as with many Korean players of late, the D2+ comes bursting with secondary functions. There's a built-in voice record function, and if you're not satisfied with the surprisingly decent results from the internal microphone, it's possible to get a line-in cable that connects to the AV connector and use that to record audio at bit-rates of up to 256Kbps.
We also get a built-in FM radio complete with automatic channel search, a photo viewer application, a text viewer, touchscreen notepad and calculators in both normal and scientific forms. There's even a Flash player for those of you who want to use Flash-based utilities or games. A quick Google search will find compatible ones, though I'll warn you that the general standard isn't very high.
After the O2 - the little player that could play just about everything - video playback is disappointingly a bit of a struggle with the D2+. Only AVI and WMV file formats are supported, and anything with a resolution above 320 x 240 just won't play. You can use the bundled Cowon media management app to convert and transfer other video files for use on the player - preset configurations are provided - but in my experience the results are mixed. Some files converted perfectly, but two MPEG-4 files I tried had serious issues with sound after conversion, with the audio track running at a slower speed and lagging the video by a couple of seconds.
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