When it was announced last year, Cowon's X7 touchscreen media player was set to be an Android device, with all the advantages and support associated with Google's mobile operating system. Unfortunately, the promise of Android never materialised, and the X7 has been released with its own user interface, with a few basic widgets that let you take notes, record sound and run Flash games.
At over 200g, the X7 would certainly be our first choice if we wanted a media player to double as a bludgeon. It's definitely not going to fit comfortably in your jeans pocket and would be a strain on the lining of your jacket. However, the X7's large size also means that it has a massive battery, which lasted over 83 hours in our audio playback test - the longest we've ever seen. There's also space for a 4.3in display, big enough to watch films without having to squint, while a 120GB hard disk means you can lug around all the music and movies you could ever want. There's even a built-in speaker and composite video output.
Audio support is excellent - all our non-DRM audio files played perfectly, from standard MP3 and AAC files to more uncommon formats like Audible audiobooks and lossless FLAC. Video support is a bit more finicky - the player can't handle H.264 codecs, so you're limited to WMV and XVID. It can't do HD video, either. Fortunately, Cowon's JetAudio Media Center software can handle conversion for you. Once you've got your video into the right format, quality is outstanding. The large screen is brilliantly bright and easy to view under any light conditions and at almost any angle.
We were also very impressed by the player's audio quality. The X7 outputs perfectly clear, accurate sound, even at the highest volumes our ears could take. Its default Normal EQ mode is a flat reproduction of the original audio file, but there are plenty of other modes, including several enhanced bass settings that add depth if your headphones are a bit weedy in that department. The supplied earbuds are uncomfortable to wear for long periods, but their sound quality is fairly good.
Despite its obvious qualities, there are several things we don't like about the X7. Some of the touchscreen icons and buttons are inconveniently small and we couldn't find any Flash games that actually worked. You also can't use the player when it's connected to your PC. A proprietary connector means that, even though you can mount the X7 as a standard USB storage device, you'll need to carry its own special USB lead to do so.
None of these are great drawbacks, though. The X7 is expensive and there are a few improvements we’d make, but if you want to be able to travel with enough media to keep you entertained throughout your trip and the battery life to shun power sockets, it’s the best tool for the job.