Cowon’s O2 is going after the Archos 5 in a big way. Can it win this toughest of PMP wars?
Carting around enough music, flicks and photos to keep you satisfied for the best part of a month was something media addicts could only dream of just a few years ago. But thanks to Archos, a new PMP arrives at Stuff Towers once every 20 minutes.
The latest, Cowon’s O2, has certainly made every effort to keep our interest piqued. With stacks of file support, a 4.3in AMOLED screen and a body that won't cause unsightly trouser bulges, it looks a strong alternative for those not down with bigger brands.
File support is undoubtedly the O2's biggest draw. If you happen to have a thoroughly disorganised music library, crammed with everything from MP3 to FLAC, the O2 will be happy to play nice.
You’ll find you can play WMAs, AAC+ and MP3 with minimal bother, all easily brought onto the device thanks to the marvels of drag and drop. DRM-laden tracks aren’t welcome here, though.
Similarly, if you’re loaded with innumerable video formats, the O2 is the way forward, letting you shovel on DivX, Xvid, WMV, MPEG4 and H.264.
And with up to 32GB of storage, expandable by SD, you’ll have plenty of room for whatever you fancy taking out on the road.
Despite this breadth of support, the O2 is let down in perhaps the most important PMP category – usability. Frankly, navigating your way around the archaic UI is a complete nightmare.
File trees pop up everywhere you turn, while inexplicable icons fail to help you get from A to B and the somewhat unresponsive touchscreen can often feel glitchy.
It’s all a far cry from the opening menu, which promises clean and clear direction, only to throw you into a world of befuddling menus after your first stab at the AMOLED screen.
While the navigation is more average than a night at a Snow Patrol gig, the sound quality is reassuringly high class.
We dispensed with the unsurprisingly turgid bundled buds and used a pair of Sennheiser CX300s. Cranking up Kings of Leon’s more scuzzy early work revealed a fresh, clear sound that easily rivals the likes of the iPod Touch and Archos 5.
Fire up the video player though and you’ll be left wanting. While the AMOLED screen might appear an iPod basher, its low 480x272 resolution means that watching even the shortest TV clip is underwhelming.
In all, the O2’s poor UI and disappointing visuals mean we’d advise plumping for something with a little more thought behind it. Maybe the Archos 5 can do for you what the Cowon O2 can’t.
Cowon O2 review
A worthy attempt at dethroning Archos, but an infuriating interface sees it fall behind the leading pack