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Cowon X7 - Interface, Video and Screen

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

The Cowon X7 offers two kinds of interface, and you can switch between them freely. The first is an iPod style menu that lays-out the main features of the player in a list - one that you don't have to scroll through thanks to the expansive 4.3in screen. It's simple, clean and our interface of choice.

Cowon X7

The second is seemingly inspired by Android smartphones, offering you home screens to fill with widgets and shortcuts. As nice an idea as this may be on paper, it's limited by the lack of an app store - at your disposal are 12 widgets, few of which justify a spot on a home screen. The clock and calendar are possible candidates for a place, but a brightness switch and snapshot widget? Well, maybe, but it's hardly compelling stuff. It feels a little like Cowon was clutching at straws with this extra-customisable UI. If it offered other features like web connectivity, GPS or a games library, this interface would make more sense, but it doesn't. And it doesn't need to - this is a media player after all, not a smartphone.

Cowon X7

This is the same set of interfaces used in the Cowon J3, but they feel a little less nimble on the X7 because it uses a resistive touchscreen rather than a capacitive model. It's responsive enough but suffers from the traditional problem of finger-operated resistive touchscreens - accuracy. Most of the interface elements are large enough to escape from this effect, but you have to be more conscious of the way the touchscreen works - and which part of your finger actually connects with the touchscreen - than with the slicker Cowon J3.

The screen is highly reflective but viewing angles are good and the X7 comes with a handful of wallpaper images to best show it off. However, just as its body shape is living in the distant past, so is its screen resolution. Where a smartphone using this screen size would typically use a 480x800 pixel resolution, this media player is 272x480 pixels. That's 384,000 pixels total versus 130,560 - the Cowon has around a third the number of pixels of what might be considered the new "industry standard".Cowon X7

This leaves interface text looking a little blocky and images visibly pixellated, but it doesn't spoil the media player's surprisingly good video skills. The Cowon X7 plays DivX and Xvid files, and when watching a movie or TV episode the low-res effect is less noticeable. Well-encoded video is very watchable when the device is held 30cm or so from your face - and the 10-hour video-watching battery life makes this device worth considering as a portable video buddy, an alternative to one of Archos's older PMPs. The viewing angles here are superior to most of Archos's players too.

dev

April 28, 2011, 2:11 pm

So tempted, I'm looking for something to replace my ipod classic as I'm bored of the average sound quality...but this thing is just too big and clunky! Is there anything else on the market that people would recommend? I need space, preferably 120gb plus. Not interested in apps/bluetooth or any of that jazz as I have an HTC Desire

Jeff78

June 21, 2011, 8:05 am

With 120gb plus this is probably the only option with good sound quality. The J3 is much lighter ans smaller with up to 64gb (32+32, or more with more micro-sd card in your pocket). The hifiman 801 has good sound and more power to drive cans but is heavy, no internal memory (sd card slot only). Other MP3-Players playing in this league of sound quality?

Lucktnev

January 28, 2012, 1:39 pm

I am absolutely disgusted by the X7. The product called Jet Audio is useless. It adds m4a files to the library which cause it to crash. It does not synch with the X7, and hangs for hours. It is impossible to add album covers to any format other than mp3, though it says WMA are ok. You cannot add album covers to albums, but only at a song level.
The player is so hard to use, with the touch screen needing a degree of skill not available to humans.
The support from Cowon is non existent. I tried to email for 6 weeks and got no reply.
Purchasing this device has been the most unpleasant purchase ever.

voodoo

April 29, 2012, 2:17 pm

An audiophiles portable music player. Yeah it's clunky compared to something like a Touch but I bought this to play music - not Tunes.
Pros - Sound quality. Drives even tough headphones like AKG701 reasonably well but is heaven with Shure SE535's.
- huuuuge battery life, tough durable case (get the leather case accessory), storage capacity, no iTunes!! Plays FLAC natively. Good enough to connect directly to an amp or active speakers without a DAC.
Cons - no 24/96 support. Navigation is clunky if you flit from song to song (fine otherwise). Non standard (Korean) USB connection cable.

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