Fire it up and you’re greeted with an impressive sight. The 320 x 240 screen is extremely bright, crisp and clear, it’s viewable even outdoors in bright sunlight, and watching videos on it is a far more pleasurable experience than I anticipated. Part of the reason it’s so good is that it supports frame rates of up to 30fps where many smaller players limit you to 15fps. Either way, I could quite easily imagine myself watching long TV programs, even movies on this device while on a train or plane. It’s that good.
As I mentioned above, the screen also doubles as the D2’s main control interface and this works extremely well. I have criticised Cowon’s players in the past for having indecipherable and overly complex menu systems, but this is a vast improvement. Touching the screen brings up a selection of context sensitive popup menus at the bottom of the screen along with a close button and one for accessing the main menu. Above these the larger play/pause skip track buttons appear, overlaid on the track information in the centre of the screen.
It’s still not the simplest player to operate in the world, and can’t compete with the likes of Apple’s iPod or the Trekstor Vibez I reviewed a couple of months ago, but finding your way around isn’t that hard. And, after a day or so with it, I could honestly say that there isn’t anything about it that I find annoying. A particularly nice feature is the way you can create dynamic play lists as you go along, and even add bookmarks in the middle of files – particularly useful if you’re going to use it as a dictaphone.
Alas the player’s coolest feature – DAB Radio – turns out to be a big disappointment. When you can get a strong signal the sound quality is excellent, as it is with music files. But getting a signal strong enough to listen to any station proved almost impossible. In my house, the only place I could listen in comfort was standing up in the kitchen, next to the sink.
I tested it in various other locations – in my garden, a couple of miles down the road, in Sainsbury’s supermarket car park in South Woodford, then drove halfway across London but I still couldn’t receive a station without performing contortions of the arms, holding the player at impossible angles or perching it on surfaces where it was in danger of being dislodged and dropped. Worse still, if you pick a station with intermittent reception the player often crashes in sympathy, blacking out the screen and making it difficult to exit the radio mode without a reset.