Photos: Exclusive Cowon O2 hands-on

We've been given one of the first production models of Cowon's latest PMP: the O2. It's an entirely touch-controlled media beast

It's arrived at CNET UK: the brand-new, highly anticipated Cowon O2. This flash-based PMP follows on from 2007's Cowon Q5W and A3, bringing with it support for almost every video and audio format on the planet, including MKV video and FLAC audio .

We've literally just got our hands on it, and are feverishly covering it in finger grease as we speak. One of the most notable improvements over last year's Cowon offerings is the user interface. The O2 uses a slick Apple-esque system with large glossy icons, all entirely touch-driven using the 109mm (4.3-inch) LCD display.

Behind this are some superb specifications, particularly for videophiles, including support for MP3, WMA, FLAC, OGG, AAC, ASF, WAV, APE, WavPack, True Audio Lossless, MusePack, Monkey's Audio, AVI, WMV, MPEG-4 SP, MKV, OGM, MPEG-2, DAT and MTV. Safe to say that practically anything you put on here will be supported.

It also offers TV-out as standard, up to 8 hours of continuous video playback, expansion by SD card and a ten-band equaliser. Though unlike last year's A3, the O2 doesn't allow you to record video directly to the device and it doesn't support hi-def MKV content -- we tried, but it failed -- though we're told other hi-def content is supported. We'll be putting that to the test in our full review.

Screen quality, though, is excellent, although us video addicts here at Crave question whether the very glossy screen coating is just too reflective. Plus, as with all touch-screen devices designed for video, it gets a little greasy.

We've got a whole heap of photos over the next few pages, and look out for our full review and video reviews extremely soon. You'll be able to buy the O2 with up to 32GB of internal flash memory as of November, from Advanced MP3 Players. We'll update this story with prices as soon as they're confirmed. -Nate Lanxon

Here's the new icon-driven GUI. If you don't think it looks a little iPhoney, someone's probably grated some ganj into your coffee and you don't realise.

On the left-hand side is a mini USB connection and an SD card slot.

A Cowon ident snags living space on the bottom-right of the front display, just above an input socket for the bundled AC adaptor.

One of four visible screws. Also, a light to let you know if the player's on. If this fails, consider looking at the massive colour LCD screen -- if this is on, the device is on.

A hold switch and a power switch. Actually, they're the same switch. A microphone also sits up here for recording voices.

The back of the O2. Safe to say there's not much to talk about back here. We'd mention the speaker on the right, but we're saving that lengthy comment for the next page...

Here's the built-in speaker.

This is the menu for browsing. It's not great, no. In fact it's presented as a list of folders, and they can be a little fiddly to select.

Sweet zombie Jesus, it's yours truly. Safe to say if you don't want to watch videos on the move, the O2 might be the wrong player for you.

Viewing angles are good, but it's not the single brightest screen on the planet.

That said, get a decent, bright photo of a donkey, and the O2 is pretty impressive.

 

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