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Cowon iAudio G2 (1GB review: Cowon iAudio G2 (1GB

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The Good The Cowon iAudio G2 delivers great sound quality and sound-enhancement options, plays protected WMA files, and features line-in recording.

The Bad The Cowon iAudio G2 is a bit large for a flash-based player, lacks an FM tuner, and most notably, uses the slow USB 1.1 protocol for transfers.

The Bottom Line The Cowon iAudio G2's terrific audio quality and ease of use overcome its lack of USB 2.0 connectivity.

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7.3 Overall

Cowon iAudio G2

Cowon built the iAudio G2 with the premise that less is more. Without the FM tuner and USB 2.0 connectivity found in the iAudio G3, this 1GB flash-based player has excellent sound quality and audio-control options, its main selling points. For $130, the Cowon iAudio G2 is a good choice for anyone seeking a fairly basic but great-sounding device that can play WMA (DRM 9) and OGG files, in addition to MP3s.

At 2.5 by 1.8 by 0.7 inches and a lightweight 1.3 ounces with battery, the Cowon iAudio G2 is a bit large for a flash player, but the rectangular, dark-blue case and blue-backlit screen is hardly ugly. To the right of the four-line display is a navigational joystick that controls fast-forward/rewind and volume, as well as lets you view the main menu and the tracks directory. The top of the device houses buttons for power/play/pause, mode, and recording; the mode button, new to Cowon players, is a welcome addition. It's difficult to say how well the all-plastic design will hold up to long-term use, but we liked the firm snap of the protective flip cover for the line-in and USB ports, and we found all the buttons responsive and easy to control.

The Cowon iAudio G2 (1GB) next to the Apple iPod Nano (4GB).

The Cowon iAudio G2 plays MP3, OGG, and protected WMA files, so you can play tracks purchased from online music stores such as Napster, though not subscription-based tracks. You can install the included JetShell software to transfer your media files, but the player is also compatible with Windows Media Player, Musicmatch Jukebox, and Yahoo Music Engine; or you can simply move unprotected tracks using Windows Explorer.

The Cowon iAudio G2's screen is small, but it's packed with info.

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