Cowon A2 Review

The Cowon A2 is one incredible device, and manages to pack tons of features into a great little package.

The A2 is first and foremost a video player, as evidenced by the huge 4″ 16:9 screen. Videos look fantastic, with sharp colors and fast response times. It plays several formats, including Xvid, DivX, MPEG and WMV. (Although it does NOT play MPEG2, or VOB files. You must transcode DVDs before watching them.) On the audio side of things, the A2 has the standard options, including Vorbis, MP3, FLAC, WAV, and WMA. (Although it does not play DRM WMA files.) AC3 support is included for videos, and supports up to 6.1 decoding. However the A2 does not support gapless playback, something I was deeply disappointed to find out. There are two ways to resolve this, either by decoding everything to WAV which has a very small gap between tracks, or by combining all the individual tracks into one long file. Neither way is ideal, and hopefully Cowon will add this in later firmware updates.

Despite these playback flaws, the A2 sounds fantastic. It offers a custom 5-Band Equalizer, as well as several advanced options developed by iAudio. It also features built in stereo speakers, which although lack bass, sound pretty decent. The A2 is also capable of recording video, radio, and audio, as well as watching TV in Korea if you buy the optional DMB receiver. In addition to that, the Cowon A2 runs a custom version of Linux, making third-party modifications a possibility. Overall the A2 is a unique device, offering tons of great options in one package. It retails for $300 for the 30 GB model, and $270 for the 20 GB model.