Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

So Close, Apple

Cowon Q5WMy Cowon U2 mp3 player has served me excellently over the past several years and, while it still works perfectly, I have been looking to upgrade. This is partly due to its paltry 1GB of storage, and partly because the inclusion of both video playback and wifi web surfing on new high-end portable media players is very enticing. For the past year I have been eyeing up Cowon’s feature-packed Q5W. However it is not without its drawbacks: running Windows CE5 allows for office documents to be read, but also means the whole touch screen interface is somewhat sluggish; battery life is on the low side because of the hard drive; and the web browser is still a bit clunky.

iPod TouchAs a result I found myself seriously considering the iPod Touch (the first Apple device I have openly praised), particularly once the 2nd gen model wisely added an external volume control. My chief concern has always been the iTunes lock-in because I detest the bloated resource hog. A quick trial of the latest version did nothing to change my mind but, particularly after experiencing just how fast and responsive the Touch’s interface is, I was still torn. All that remained was to compare the sound quality, which meant loading my old player with a few of Apple’s sample songs and taking to an Apple store. Disappointingly, the iPod came nowhere near the 4-year-old Cowon. Its limited sound options essentially consisted of a volume control and a bunch of preset equalisers with a scarcely noticeable effect, all leaving the music sounding flat and lifeless with compression. In the end it turned out the choice was an easy one. Having come so close to winning me over, this really just serves to cement Apple’s recent devices and wonderful shiny gadgets that fail spectacularly at their chief function — the iPhone as a phone that can’t make calls or text, and the iPod Touch as a music player that can’t play music.

Let’s hope the promising looking Archos 5 does better…


  1. Thank god!!! When I was reading the first half of this post I was saying to myself “Surely not!!” but thankfully you saw reason!

  2. Don’t get the iPod whatever you do.

    The Cowon devices have the best sound quality but the only one worth getting is the A3. The A2 still does well though. Personally I’m forced into buying the Archos 605 because I need 160 GB minimum. Still, despite some quirks, it’s a decent player (probably still the best on the market) and has a far superior web browser to other mobile devices.

  3. Thanks for the comments guys. I have definitely dumped any thoughts of getting the iPod of course. It seems that having bought a Cowon and gotten used to that level of sound reproduction, I may not be able to look elsewhere. That being the case I may wait a few months to see if their newly advertised players land before deciding.

    However I’m also keen to see what the Archos players sound like. I’ve not tried one of the 5th gen (or new 6th gen) ones so I am curious about how they compare. In terms of space requirements, I think my minimum is 32GB which is right at the top end of flash players on the market. But if I’m watching much video, considerably more would be necessary.

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"Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has."

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