Cowon X7 review

The X7 isn't as pretty or as glossy as some of its rivals, but if you want a big, good-quality screen, great sound and an unfeasibly massive battery life, this is the media player for you.

7 Mar 2011
Our Rating 
4/5
Price when reviewed 
239
inc VAT

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.

Cowon X7 white

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.

Cowon X7 black

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.

Details

Price £239
Rating ****
Headphone Rating ***

Hardware

Capacity 120.00GB
Formatted capacity 113MB
Interface USB
Storage medium 1.8in hard disk
Battery and charge options Li-ion, USB, DC input (no charger provided)
Size 77x15x127mm
Weight 212g

Features

Device has screen? Yes
Viewable size 4.3 in
Native resolution 480x272
Memory card support none
FM Radio yes
Audio record options microphone, radio, line-in
Video record options none
Supplied with headphones, USB cable

Test Results

Tested battery life (MP3 playback) 7h 49m
Tested battery life (Video playback) 83h 6m
500MB transfer time 13s
Audio MP3 playback Yes
Audio WMA playback Yes
Audio WMA-DRM playback No
Audio AAC playback Yes
Audio Protected AAC playback No
Audio OGG playback Yes
Audio WAV playback Yes
Audio Audible playback Yes
Image BMP support No
Image JPEG support Yes
Image TIFF support No
Video MPEG-4 AVI playback Yes
Video MPEG-4 MP4 playback Yes
Video WMV playback Yes
Video MPEG-1 playback No
Video MPEG-2 playback No
Video MPEG-2 VOB playback No
Video MPEG-4 DivX/XviD support Yes
Video H.264 support No
Video MPEG-4 MP3 audio support Yes
Video MPEG-4 AAC audio support Yes
Download compatibility none

Buying Information

Price per MB 0.2p
Warranty one year RTB
Supplier http://www.advancedmp3players.co.uk
Details www.cowonglobal.com

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