back to article Cowon iAudio V5 HD media player

As regular readers will know, I have a fondness for Cowon PMPs. The combination of comprehensive codec support and excellent playback found in devices like the A3, S9 and O2 has convinced me that if top notch audio and video quality is your chief desire, Cowon is the place to spend your money. Cowon iAudio V5 Cowon's iAudio V5 …

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Stop

Raw support

For which cameras?

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Nice

I'll stick with my D2 for just now, though.

Always good to see Cowon stuff getting reviewed on its merits and drawbacks, rather than by constant comparison to a certain other brand of product. No doubt their afficionados will be along shortly to declare it a "swing and a miss" as far as being an iWhichever killer goes, having missed the point as usual.

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No ID3 - WTF?

Even the chapest £9.99 MP3 player hanging on a hook in Tesco does ID3

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ID3

ID3 is overrated imho.

The concept is ok but the reality is a mess.

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ID3

It is overrated, and often incorrect. However, having spent far to long with" Tag&Rename" getting my 60GB cd collection correctly tagged. I cannot understand why any manufacturer would omit support for it in their player. If I was looking for a new media player then lack of ID2/3 support would stop me buying it.

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Video fixation

I'm STILL waiting for a non iPod high storage capacity (60gb+) Audio player. I

have no need for on the move video and the video player requirement for a large screen makes the device less portable as a music player; I just want album art - no more.

So I'm sticking with my old iRiver at the moment.

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Agreed

The thing is, it would be commercial suicide to release a high capacity portable without video playback these days. The mainstream consumer market just doesn't see ultra high capacity as necessary for music-only machines. Besides, the cost savings of not having even a tiny (nowadays) 320x240 display along with the necessary video codecs and processing power are so minimal that such a player just wouldn't be viable. Even players with massive hi-fi pretensions like the S:flo2 all come with video playback. The last true music machine with high capacity that I recall was the iAudio X5 (which they still make) but that was only 20GB.

Just a thought: maybe a flash-based pro portable recorder would fit the bill? Those machines never have video (in fact you can go properly retro with 2-line LCD if you want) and there just has to be some seriously high capacity gear out there. Try studiospares.co.uk.

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RE: Video fixation

Although it does video, have you seen the new machines from Creative?

http://uk.store.creative.com/products/product.aspx?catid=213&pid=18965&nav=1

I've been waiting about a year for a replacement to my still very good and unfortunatly very full 30GB Zen Vision:M and this might be it. 64GB capacity, although the screen is a little smaller than the V5 and the price could do with being under £200 really, but it looks like a great player.

I saw one in Comet the other week and wanted to have a play unfortunatly they had lost the key to their cabinet!

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RAW

Grant - sadly Cowon don't maintain a list of precisely what RAW file types are supported but both Fuji and Pentax (.raf & .ptx) files worked for me.

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FAIL

Epic Fail

No ID3 tagging is a game changer for me.

All my MP3 files are correctly tagged and for some stupid machine not to recognise them is beyond belief!

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tas
Unhappy

AAC almost certainly is supported but no ID3 is total game breaker for many!

To article writer, Alun Taylor, did you actually test playback of AAC files? Try, renaming as necessary too, i.e. .aac, .m4a, .m4b.

I suspect that like most (if not all) Cowon products, the product specifications and manuals do not mention AAC playback but it actually does work. I have owned four different Cowon devices over five years and it has always been supported, despite the product description. Other Cowon users have reported the same on various forums. I have no idea why its never "officially" supported though - some sort of licensing issue perhaps?

However, lack of ID3 tagging if true is totally laughable and a game breaker for many, including at least one formerly loyal Cowon customer.

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@ tas re. AAC

My V5 wouldn't recognise .aac or .m4a AAC files. However an mp4 video file containing H.264 video and AAC audio worked perfectly so clearly it has some level of support built-in. Lack of AAC support isn't a tradition at Cowon - my A3 plays them a treat so I am at a bit of a loss to know why the same isn't true of the S9, O2 and V5. As you say, it may be a licensing issue of some sort.

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i have this

the device, as some have already indicated will play aac files with some tweaking.

However, the reason you buy this machine is for video playback while you;re on the move, as i often am - and for that, it's the best I've ever seen. The first video I played on it was a 1080p file of Quantum of solace - the video was more than just amazing - in fact I still have difficulty now describing how good it really is.

And yes - the sound quality is better than any MP3/MP4 player I have had in the past - and I had 4 different ones, including an ipod.

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I take your point re video quality...

... but really, this seems to be poor value otherwise compared to the iPod Touch. No AAC, no ID3 support, no gapless playback, no playlist syncing: these really are serious omissions. And does the larger screen really compensate for the lack of storage capacity? And if the audio sounds better, lack of gapless playback makes that much less of a winner.

So for similar money, unless you really are going to use it primarily for video playback, you can get twice the storage, all the above features, plus the wi-fi and apps with the Touch (and it looks like the Touch is way slimmer and more pocketable). OK, it may run WinCE apps (it's not clear from the review), but with no wi-fi it's much more limited.

It just looks like Cowon haven't really thought about *using* the thing, which is where Apple really have their edge.

Cue lots of flames and fanboi accusations, naturally, but there is a reason why Apple stuff sells like it does, and this review shows why. Believe me, I'd like to see some real competition, if for no other reason than to keep Apple on their toes, but this isn't it: just too many rough edges and limitations for the price.

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Anonymous Coward

Gapless

You're right about the lack of gapless. Cowon are the only significant manufacturer slower than Apple to catch on to this.

As for the competition angle - in Cowon's home market and much of the far east Apple *is* the competition. They have massively increased their PMP market share ever since the iPod stopped being shit (which in part happened after they copied a few of Cowon's innovations) but Apple still have a long way to go before they even come close to the share they enjoy in the US/EU. They're not helped by the fact that in places like Korea you can watch DMB TV on your PMP - unless it's an iPod - and said TV-capable players are a hell of a lot cheaper too.

Don't know what it is about Cowon and their aversion to gapless though. The community have been shouting about it for years - it's just idiotic.

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