The A3 seems like the best fit.
Anime-nerds, and collossal nerds in general love Cowons. Check it out.
Before we begin, I'd really appreciate it if all brand-name bias were kept out of this thread. I do not condone fanboyism in any form. I desire functionality, and that is a purely scientific and fact-driven concept.
So I'm looking for a really versatile media player that'll fulfill a lot of my needs. I have previously owned a Creative Zen Vision W (now broken), and I will be basing my standards off of that product.
The first and most important feature I need is support for a large variety of video formats. I'm an anime fan, so I download a lot of subtitled Japanese anime, and the nature of such media causes many sources to go with more open-source or obscure media codecs, particularly H.264 and DivX/XviD, as well as container formats that support soft-coded subtitles such as MKV and OGM. Since these files are usually pretty big in size and in large quantities, I don't want to have to deal with transcoding my media, which is extremely time-consuming. The Zen Vision W didn't quite meet that expectation, but it supported DivX/XviD, which was nifty since many anime releases were encoded in such formats. However, H.264 is becoming far more commonplace and is also of much greater quality.
In terms of space, I'll be satisfied if I can fit at least five seasons worth of anime onto it and then some, so maybe around 30 GB, though more would be nice.
Preferably I'd like to have a widescreen media player, since most anime is in 16:9 format. Screen size should be big enough to allow ease of subtitle reading, so maybe around 4 inches (ZVW was 4.3). I'd also prefer a resolution equal to or at least 480x272 (same as ZVW, and that was perfect).
The size of the actual player really doesn't matter to me that much, but I'd at least like to fit it in the front pocket of my cargo pants. Anything around the size of a first-generation Sony PSP is fine.
Another feature I almost desperately desire is a custom equalizer that allows me to set individual bands (meaning, I don't want to be forced to use presets like Rock and Pop, but rather make my own entirely). The Zen Vision W had a 5-band custom EQ which served that purpose wonderfully, so my expectations as to HOW customizable the EQ is isn't as much of a deal to me, as long as the functionality is there.
And while it's not as high priority (after all, function > fashion), for audio, I have a pretty big music library of about 3,500 songs, and I keep everything very organized and tagged. An intuitive and maybe slick-looking interface is a huge plus. I wasn't very impressed with the Zen Vision W's clunky interface, and I am definitely not a fan of how the iPod's music library is navigated, although it is very slick and good-looking. From my limited use of it, I'm particularly fond of the Microsoft Zune's XY-based navigation interface, which it appeared to inherit from the very slick Windows Media Center. I love how you can press left and right to switch from album to artist to genre to playlist etc., and then up and down to browse the list. It was intuitive, it was user-friendly, and it let me navigate my music efficiently and quickly.
Brand name isn't a big deal for me. As far as I can tell, big name brands like iPod and Zune don't have the same amount of versatility as some of the more obscure name brands out there (especially in terms of video support), so I haven't considered those much. If they've sneakily done things to their software behind my back to improve upon their functionality and include the things I'm looking for, then I'll certainly reconsider them.
My personal favorite media player is WinAmp, so the ability to interface with that is a plus. Windows Media Player is okay too.
I'm hoping to net a price around $300 or less, though I'm kinda okay with exceeding that by $50-100 or so if necessary.
To summarize, here is what I'd like:
- Support for more obscure video formats (H.264, DivX/XviD, MKV, OGM)
- Custom audio equalizer (5 bands or more)
- 30 GB or more
- 16:9 screen, 4 inches or greater.
- 480x272 resolution or greater
- Sleek, intuitive interface
- WinAmp support
I greatly appreciate any feedback anyone can send my way.