For the gadgeteer who wants a PMP that does it all, the Q5W looks enticing. But like a summer temp postie, does it deliver?
Everything, everything, everything – ask a Cowon Q5W what it can do and its answer would likely be along the lines of the intro to Underworld's classic Cowgirl. It might also add that, unlike the Archos range, it packs GPS into its bulging feature suitcase.
But we're not here to listen to the Q5W's back-patting claptrap. We've got on well with previous Cowon efforts like the A2, but they've tended to lack star quality and been a bit tricky in the control department. Does the Q5W suffer the same pitfalls?
Let's start with the display. You get a generous 5in screen with a promising 800x480 resolution. Add the usual manufacturer claim of a ridiculous number of colours (16.7 million, if you must know), and the Q5W doesn't look short in the video department.
Your choice of vision on the trot is not limited to what you load into the Cowon's 40GB or 60GB hard drive; this brainy Brenda also flies the Wi-Fi skies and supports Flash, so you can watch a helping of, say, Joseph the dog vomiting on YouTube while wandering from A to B.
Listing the Q5W's complete feature list would be as dull as reading the manual, but highlights include Bluetooth, Windows CE Office Viewer, voice-enabled MSN Messenger and a bundled remote control. Then there's GPS, which works well on the large screen, and naturally it spins a tune and stores around eight gazillion photographs too.
This show-off feature list can leave you wondering what exactly the Q5W's main purpose is, but its outstanding screen performance – pictures are packed with detail and rapid action looks smooth – clears up any doubt. This is a portable for those who want to watch video and also enjoy the odd surf at internet bay.
That's not to say it doesn't rock – it does. Music (ideally through upgraded cans, and definitely not via the built-in speaker) sounds rich. Though not quite iPod-beating, we have few complaints.
If you're planning to cane the file-viewing feature, we can't help but think you'd be better off with the likes of an Asus Eee PC. Nevertheless, it's there and it works.
What doesn't work, all the time, is the Q5W itself – our review sample had a nasty habit of crashing. Those spoiled by the latest iPods may have all but forgotten the pain of a crashed machine, but trust us, we would happily trade features for reliability. Ideally, of course, we want both.
A further complaint is the OS. The touchscreen is no match for the iPod Touch, and the machine's occasionally leaden-footed responses are annoying. Factor in working, but clunky, conversion software and the Q5W may nuzzle the neck of Miss Excellence, but when it comes to sealing the deal it fumbles her bra strap.
Cowon Q5W review
The Q5W's mind-blowing feature set is undermined by its irksome user interface and tendency to crash. Shame