Cowon may be a bit of an underdog in the U.S. market in terms of sales, but boy, this company sure does know how to make a quality MP3 player. I have in my hand the Cowon D2, a solid device dominated by a 2.5-inch screen. I had seen a picture of the player before CES, but it didn't do the D2 justice--the player has such a nice feel to it. The sleek, black body is wrapped in a brushed-metal border, where you can find some tactile controls: a power/hold slider, volume buttons, and a menu key. On the left edge, hidden beneath a flap, are two USB ports: one standard mini for syncing with the computer and one proprietary for use with the included wallwart power adapter. The bottom of the device features an SD card expansion slot for adding more memory. Overall, the player is pleasantly compact--about the size of the iRiver Clix--though it weighs in on the slightly heavy side at 2.1 ounces.
The D2 will ship with 2GB or 4GB of built-in flash memory (prices not yet available), and it offers a 30-hour rated battery life for audio. Turn the player on, and you're greeted by a bright color display and an icon-driven main menu--rather Archos-like, actually. The interface is rather different from that of other Cowon models. For one, it's a touch screen, which responds to your finger or, if you prefer, to the included stylus. You can also use this handy little accessory to prop up the player via a built-in slot, and it's the perfect size for use with the reset button--awesome. (It's the little things that count.) Navigation isn't entirely straightforward, but I was able to get it down fairly quickly.
As with all Cowon players, the D2 is teeming with features. It offers support for multiple audio codecs, including MP3, Ogg, WAV, FLAC, and WMA (including subscription tracks). You can also view photos and videos on the device. It supports WMV and MPEG-4 natively, and Cowon includes a transcoding app for converting DivX and other formats. There's also voice and line-in recording, as well as an FM tuner with autoscan and preset slots. Cursory audio testing proved that the D2 is up to Cowon snuff; that is, it sounds great.