Cowon – D2+ DAB review

pocket media player with DAB radio
Photo of Cowon – D2+ DAB
£129 (4GB), £149 (8GB), £189 (16GB)

We looked at the original Cowon D2 some while back and concluded that it was a well designed, useful, touch-screen-driven pocket media player, but wondered whether it had enough memory, at a maximum of 4GB.

Things move on and the latest D2+ DAB has improved sound processing, a memory capacity of 4GB, 8GB or 16GB and, as you might guess from the name, DAB radio built in.

To recap, the D2+ DAB is a small (we said pack of cards size last time, but credit card would be closer) memory-based media player with a 63mm backlit LCD display. This 320 x 240 screen is very bright, with vivid colours and pin-sharp pixels, but the lithium ion battery can still run it for up to 10 hours of continuous video viewing or something over 50 hours of music playback.

The touch-screen can be operated with a finger, but better with a fingernail and best with the supplied triangular stylus, which doubles as a dual-angle stand, so you can put the player on a table to watch. It supports a lot of different programming, as the player is compatible with Flash, WMV and AVI video formats, as well as with MP3, OGG, WMA, FLAC, WAV and APE audio formats

BBE+ is a sound enhancement that cleans up tracks and the player includes a selection of different sound enhancements, too, starting with an equaliser and moving through 3D surround to MP enhance, which is claimed to compensate for MP3 compression artefacts. In use, the sound was clear and immediate, but not noticeably superior to what its rivals can produce. The iAudio earbuds are reasonable, but the player is capable of better with higher quality earpieces.

So, the real news with the D2+ DAB is the DAB radio. Once you’ve scanned Band III, you get the full range of BBC digital stations as well as a dozen or so commercial equivalents. Programme and track information is displayed on-screen, as you’d expect, though in a miniscule font.

The exact DAB station mix will vary with the area you’re in, but the quality is surprisingly good. OK the audio, compared with a good FM signal (FM is still provided here) is a bit like comparing MP3 with CD, but you’ll get much less drop-off from DAB if you’re in a car or train.

The rest of the feature list is long to the point of comprehensive, with voice recording straight to MP3, Audible book compatibility, file and photo storage and display. You can add up to 32GB of extra memory via SDHC card and the player can be connected to Windows, OSX or Linux-based PCs via USB, which is also used to charge the battery in 3.5 hours.

Company: Cowon

Contact: 0131 273 4387


Verdict
The D2+ DAB has just about all the facilities you could want in a pocket media player. While the screen is still a bit small for long-term video viewing, it's fine for music videos and could be used for movies at a pinch. The player's real strength is audio playback and the addition of DAB radio to its FM coverage and recorded music handling makes it a very versatile player at a good price.