Cowon iAudio 6 (4GB) review: Cowon iAudio 6 (4GB)

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Cowon iAudio 6 is a supercompact hard drive audio, video, and photo player with excellent format support and performance (bright sound and solid battery life). A vivid and colorful OLED screen, FM radio, line-in and voice-recording capabilities, and an updated touch interface make this one of the most advanced microdrive players to date.

The Bad The Cowon iAudio 6's touch interface takes some getting used to, and the device is easiest to operate with two hands. Also, the hard drive device is more likely to malfunction than a flash player. No carrying case or lanyard is included. Like with the iPod Nano and the Samsung Z5, you pay a premium for the size of the iAudio 6.

The Bottom Line The stacked yet compact 4GB Cowon iAudio 6 is a true performer, but the touch-sensitive interface will cause problems for some.

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The $250 iAudio 6, Cowon's first microdrive player, rivals most flash players in compactness, thanks in part to a 4GB, 0.85-inch hard drive. This feature-packed and excellent-sounding player/recorder supports all sorts of music, video, and photo files (but no album art), and it boasts a slick, high-resolution 1.3-inch OLED screen. While the iAudio 6's interface is an improvement upon that of past Cowon players, it can still be tricky to use. We also believe that Cowon, despite utilizing cutting-edge HDD technology, should have opted for more reliable flash memory, or at least produced a 6GB or 8GB version. Yet, we can't question this player's deft looks and high-octane performance.

The iAudio 6 follows in the Cowon tradition of being packed to the gills with features. It is an MP3, WMA (including subscription tracks), OGG, FLAC, and WAV audio player; an MPEG-4 (AVI) video player; a photo viewer, complete with a three-by-three grid of thumbnails and zoom/pan features; an FM tuner with 24 autoscannable presets; and a voice and line-in recorder. High-resolution graphics and data pop off the colorful, 160x180-pixel OLED screen, though the display is highly reflective outdoors.

Photos and video, as small as they are, are sharp and easy on the eyes. The new icon-based main-menu system is arranged in a slick rainbow curve, and the dedicated menu and volume buttons come in handy as you tackle the iAudio 6's array of features.

The Cowon iAudio 6 is an ideal size--not iPod Nano thin but extremely pocketable, at 2.75 by 1.25 by 0.75 inches and 2.12 ounces. It's only slightly bigger than the iAudio U3, but it has a bigger screen and more storage. Cowon employs a new touch-sensitive interface for the main controllers. The diagonal slider stripe (a.k.a. Swing Touch) makes for smooth navigating--once you get used to it. Swing Touch allows for some atypical navigation, including forwarding and reversing through tracks with a slide of the thumb, scrolling through songs on the playback screen when paused, or skipping by track or by 2, 4, and up to 30 seconds of the song at a time; you can specify from many options in the general-settings area. We also like that you can customize the functions of the Menu button (we've set ours up to activate the EQ upon a long hold) and the red Record/Back button (we have ours on "add song to dynamic playlist").

ALT TEXT
The 4GB Cowon iAudio 6 next to the similarly priced 4GB Apple iPod Nano. The sheathed Nano is thinner, but the hard-drive-based iAudio 6 has many more features.

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Where to Buy

Cowon iAudio 6 (4GB)

Part Number: i6-4096BL
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Built-in Display OLED
  • Battery Player battery - rechargeable - lithium polymer
  • Tuner Bands FM
  • Capacity 4 GB
  • Color black
  • Weight 2.1 oz
  • Supported Digital Audio Standards ASF
    FLAC
    MP3
    MPEG 1 Audio
    MPEG 2 Audio
    MPEG 2.5 Audio
    Ogg Vorbis
    WAV
    WMA
  • Diagonal Size 1.3" m
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Type digital player / radio