Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cowon C2 Review

Cowon's latest offering is a little hard to figure out. The C2 looks like a smaller thinner version of their D2. A throwback (after their Android D3) to the basics perhaps. Something new to buy for those wanting Cowon's great playback quality but at a far more reasonable cost than the Android based D3. The C2 is compact and  well built. Mine arrived 7/21/2011 and opening up the package felt a little like Christmas in July. In the (reusable cardboard drawer) box I found:
Optional accessories (available at jetmall.net and amazon.com) include:
Hardware Features:
  • MicroSD expansion slot (for up to 32gb cards).
  • 2.6" Clear Color LCD touchscreen (240x320)
  • FM Radio and radio recording (but with no RDS).
  • Speaker.
  • Microphone.
  • 55 hour battery for music). 10 hours for video.
  • Metal back.
  • External Volume +/-,  Menu, and Power/Hold buttons.
UI: You have two choices. One uses icons that you may have seen on the Cowon D3. The other is a simpler text-based set of icons that will take a bit to get used to.

Music:  File formats supported include MP3/2, WMA, OGG, FLAC, APE, and WAV.  I can verify that the C2 will play WMA lossless, which is a challenge for most media players. The only format I haven't tested is APE.  All other play fine and sound great. The now playing screen doesn't sit still.  Instead it puts your cover art on an LP and spins it around to keep you entertained visually.

Music's Now-Playing features are a little more cryptic to find than they were on the J3, and they required an extensive examination to figure out. You can find Favorites and Bookmarks, but not easily. There is an alphabetic search option (limited to 12 characters) as well. You have the typical playback shuffle and repeat, speed and pitch controls. You can also access extensive EQ/JetEffect settings including 4 User configurations, Normal, and 34 unique presets.  The music app is full featured, but far from intuitive to use if you really want to master it.

Videos:  File formats supported include AVI, WMV, ASF (and MP4 unofficially).  The video app is also fairly complete, but given the small screen perhaps not the best excuse for getting a Cowon C2.

The settings in the video app are nearly the same as on Cowon's other players, but again a little bit of a mystery as to where to find. A single tap on the screen brings up the play controls.  Those include Prev/Rewind, Play, and Next/Fast_Forward.  There is a slider to let you move to any position in the video, as well as Position (time) and Length (time) info.  You can tap the lower corners to for "next" or "prev" pages which will take you to more video settings including Subtitle, Display, Playback, and Speed (to the right), with  Loop, Brightness, Capture, and JetEffect (EQ) settings (to the left).

Back to that first tap on the Now Playing screen:  To the right after that first tap is an Open icon which when tapped will bring up a list of the available videos.  From that list a tap on the tiny "next" icon moves you to Video Favorites if you've marked any, and one more tap gets you to Video Bookmarks.  A tap on "Prev" brings you to an alphabetic search page.

Pictures: JPGs appear to be the only picture format supported. You get all the basic features with the Pictures app including incremental and double-tap to Zoom, Pan, SlideShow (with transitions), and Rotate. 

Documents: You can view  .TXT files on the C2 with the Documents app. You can also hand write notes to yourself with the included NotePad app. Lastly, you can type notes with the Typist app.  Both would be fine for making notes to yourself. The NotePad app is limited to 30 pages, and of course there is no printing from the C2. The Typist app has 60 available pages.  I highly recommend using a stylus with these apps on the C2.  Any PDA stylus should work, and you don't need an expensive capacitive stylus with the resistive screen.

Radio:  You'll need to have the earphones plugged in to serve as antenna for the radio. All the expected features are there. A panel to the left (tap ) include region and stereo/mono options.  The upper left corner of each panel has a speaker icon you can tap to silence the radio.  

Games: Flash games are supported on the C2.  No samples came with it, and I didn't have any examples to try.

Clock: There is a timer and alarm in the Settings>Time app, with a Stopwatch (or Countdown timer) as a separate StopWatch app. Very handy.  You can also use it as a simple clock.  It would make a great travel companion. Add a simple stand for greatest convenience. The default theme has it's first page as a clock with inspirational sayings.  Tap on the upper right corner of this page to cycle through them.  I find the clock and related features to be one of the best excuses for a C2.

Summary:  For codec support and audio output quality, the C2 gets an A+.  The User Interface and app options are something you'll need to study awhile to get used to.  All the features are there, just hard to find.  I'm enjoying my C2 for its small size, light weight, and great sound.  I'm not using the included earbuds though.  Find a great set of  headphones for the C2 and you'll be in audio heaven.


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  1. I have a question that's not related to this review.
    What mp3 player do you think has the best overall sound quality? Strictly sound.
    I was looking at the yp-m1 and cowon j3 because of it's price range. Or are there any other mp3 players that have better sound quality in a similar price range?

  2. I don't have young enough ears to be a good judge of what sounds best. I enjoy my Cowon J3 sound more than the sound from my Samsung M1 though. The J3 also does gapless playback. The M1 doesn't


  3. Ok. Just wanted your opinion. Thank you very much^^

  4. Hi, what is the best mp3 player with internet??

  5. For a good internet experience a big screen with high resolution is best. Of players that still fit in a pocket I like the Archos 43. There is also a new Latte Ice Smart player running android 2.3 and a 5" screen. The best sounding player I have with internet is the Cowon D3.


  6. Hello. The following link its not spam. Its a site in Greece with the available earphones ! Can you suggest me one from those with a price of 50 euros please? (For my C2) . I would be grateful !! Thank you Here is the site. Its in Greek but u wont get confused. Just change the pages on the bottom. The product names are on english characters

  7. and something else. Do you suggest buying Cowon E2 which costs around 40 euro and some earbuds that cost 150 euros, or buy Cowon C2 that costs 167 euros and get earbuds that cost 50 euros? Because I read somewhere that the earphones make the biggest difference on sound quality. But on the other hand an mp3 player like E2 with no screen can be annoying right? Thanks

  8. d1versify: No link in your comment. I don't recommend earphones I haven't tried though. To me the C2 would be far more enjoyable than the E2. And yes the earphones used are most important.


  9. ok so im really confused atm. I can spend about 250 euros. You suggest buying C2 with good heaphones or a more expensive Cowon with its default headphones?

  10. d1versify: Sennheisers are usually good. I can't vouch for the ones you linked to as I haven't tried them. You don't need a more expensive Cowon to get better sound. All you get is a bigger screen and perhaps a few more features. The C2 is a fine music player and will sound great with good headphone.


  11. thanks for your help. i just ordered C2 16gb but will save some money for good earbuds in the future :) you are right, the "big" Cowons would be useless for me since i only need music. Sad thing is that Cowon is rare in Greece and I could only buy the 16gb version which it will cost me around 170 euros, but anyway ! Thanks again