Editor's note: Although CNET's battery drain tests revealed that the iAudio 7 is unlikely to meet its claim of 60 hours of continuous music playback during realistic conditions, we still feel it is an excellent player worthy of the Editors' Choice distinction.
While the Cowon iAudio 7 is cosmetically indistinguishable from its previous life as the iAudio 6, it still proves to be a significant upgrade. Under the hood, the 4GB microdrive technology found in the iAudio 6 has been transplanted with up to 8GB of faster, leaner flash memory and an improved battery life. We still feel that Cowon's Swing Touch interface takes some acclimation, but with the 4GB player selling for $170 and the 8GB selling for $220, the iAudio 7 is one of Cowon's most competitively priced and full-featured MP3 players to date.
When we heard that the latest iAudio player would toss out the microdrive in favor of flash memory, we presumed the result would be a slimmer player. Thus, it was a bit of a letdown to find that the iAudio's dimensions went unchanged. Granted, the iAudio 6 was small to begin with, but it's certainly not as slim as the iPod Nano. Side-by-side, the iAudio 6 and iAudio 7 are indistinguishable aside from the iAudio 7's screen being slightly offset and the back cover changing from a matte to a glossy plastic. The good news is that by resisting the temptation to go skinnier, Cowon was able to fit a higher-capacity battery into the iAudio 7.