If you're looking for a portable, does-it-all supergadget, you need look no further than the Cowon Q5W. The Q5W may look like a harmless portable video player, but it's really an ultraportable mobile computer in disguise. The Cowon Q5W runs Windows CE5, and integrates futuristic features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and an optional GPS cradle for in-car navigation. At $549 (40GB) and $599 (60GB), the Q5W doesn't come cheap, but when you tally up the all the features Cowon crammed into this thing, the value seems relatively stupefying.
If there's a way to get media onto or off of the Q5W, then Cowon has thought of it. From the top down, you're looking at: a WLAN antenna; a 2.5mm headset jack; a 3.5mm headphone jack; a mini USB 2.0 connection for receiving media from a computer; a full-size USB port for hosting USB devices; and a power input.
We were so intrigued when we saw that the Cowon Q5W we received included a retractable antenna. What was it for? Radio? TV? Turns out that the antenna is for the Cowon Q5W's WLAN wireless internet connection. You don't see that every day.
Aside from the Cowon logo gracing the background, we're essentially looking at a small tablet PC running Windows CE5. Some application shortcuts can be found on the side of the screen, including Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger, WordPad, and Cowon's own media player application.
Docking the Cowon Q5W into the optional dashboard cradle turns the device into a full-fledged GPS device. Buttons on the front of the cradle can switch the Q5W into music, movie, or navigation mode. A suction cup at the base of the in-car dock allows the Q5W to be affixed to your windshield.
To the left of the Cowon Q5W we have the Archos 605 WiFi, a wide-screen portable video player equipped with the Opera Web browser. On the right we have the Touch, Apple's lean, mean Wi-Fi iPod. Both competing devices sell for considerably less than the Q5W, but neither of them can match the Cowon's screen size, Bluetooth integration, media format support, or built-in TV-output capabilities.
The Cowon Q5W is definitely not a device anyone will want to carry in their pocket. The sheer bulk of the Cowon Q5W makes it a poor option for wimps and klutzes. At around 13 ounces, dropping the Q5W on your toe might require a trip to the emergency room.
Looking at the top edge of the Cowon Q5W, from left to right we're looking at a retractable stylus pen; volume buttons; a built-in speaker; a built-in microphone; a remote control sensor (center); another speaker; and a power switch that doubles as a button hold. This shot also gives you a sense of the Cowon Q5W's considerable girth, measuring around 0.8 inch thick.
The Cowon Q5W's touch-screen interface can be operated with your fingers, but some of the smaller screen icons are better controlled with the included stylus. A small QWERTY keyboard window can be called up from the menu bar, enabling you to type up a quick note or enter a URL.
The Cowon Q5W is a premium product that comes bundled with a premium selection of accessories, including power adapters, AV cables, earbuds, USB cables, a carrying strap, and a remote control. With any luck, you'll receive a North America-compatible power adapter (unlike us).