To balance its lack of features in some areas, the O2 supports ad-hoc playlist creation during playback, Cowon does include a useful dedicated AC charger, and the O2 earns extra points in my eyes by utilising a standard mini-USB connector rather than a proprietary cable. You’ll find it hidden with the SDHC slot under a hinged flap on the O2’s left-hand side. In fact, the only things you’ll find sticking out of the O2’s durable-feeling matt plastic casing is a volume rocker on the top and a dual-mode power/hold switch on the right hand side. Simple, unfussy and solid – that’s the O2 all over.
Battery life appears to be a case of swings and roundabouts. On the one hand, the Cowon’s eight hours of video playback is pretty good for a device of this size. On the other hand, 18 hours of audio playback is fairly average when even the iPod touch will do nearly double that. Still, you can always take the charger with you on the road.
All things considered, the O2 isn’t going to suit everyone; despite Cowon’s claims that it’s a player you can take everywhere, all the time, I’d find it a bit big and heavy for everyday use. As a take anywhere device for watching video and listening to music on the move, however, it’s an excellent option, partly because you don’t need to spend hours converting files before you head off (providing your library isn’t all HD, of course).
Sure, it doesn’t have the WiFi or Web and email features of rival products, and I wish Cowon would take a look at ease of use, but the O2 offers a decent capacity and expandability at a very reasonable price. I wouldn’t want one as my only PMP, but pair it with something smaller, cheaper and lighter, and you’d have an excellent team.
The Cowon O2 is a strong and versatile PMP with excellent file format support. It’s short of advanced features and the GUI could do with some work, but if you have a large digital media library that you’d like to take on the move, it’s a very good option.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 8
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