The Good The compact phone-like Cowon iAudio F2 plays music, video, and photo files; has excellent and configurable sound quality; records line-in, voice, and FM; can play OGG, FLAC, plus purchased and subscription-based music; has both MTP and UMS modes; has standard USB port; good battery life.
The Bad The Cowon iAudio F2 with its array of buttons may be too small to operate comfortably; feature- and option-rich interface has higher learning curve than a typical player's; must use included software to convert video; maxes out at only 2GB.
The Bottom Line The superportable Cowon iAudio F2 is a feature-packed performer, but its mini cell phone design makes it a bear to use. Plus it maxes out at 2GB.
Cowon iAudio F2
After a bit of a hiatus, Cowon is ready to unleash a gaggle of gadget goodness that will get geek hearts pumping. In addition to the curious P5 (a Windows CE device with 5-inch screen) and the long-awaited A3 (the follow-up to the distinguished A2 PVP), Cowon is launching the 2GB iAudio F2. This supercompact flash-based player looks more like a cell phone than the race car design of its predecessor, the iAudio F1, and like most Cowon devices, it has just about every feature a mobile media maven would care about. Copious features and solid performance aside, the iAudio F2 can be difficult to use because of its high learning curve and its size.
The iAudio F2 looks and feels like a cell phone--a very small one. It's an odd choice of design, though Samsung has its own phonelike MP3 player, the YP-T8. The nine red-backlit buttons beneath the 1.8-inch screen are situated in a phonelike grid and though there are many buttons to learn, they can be learned. It's the size of the unit (2.8 by 1.3 by 0.65 inches) and the location of the buttons that makes it difficult for anybody with average-size hands to operate. Trust me, the first time you switch modes or adjust volume is no sweat--it's the tenth time that starts cramping the hand. The buttons would actually be more ergonomic if they were situated a little higher up. Two-handed use is actually tolerable.