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iAudio E2 now available, still confusing

The iAudio E2 is a small, stylish MP3 player meant to take on the Apple iPod Shuffle. A 4GB model goes on sale today for $65.

Donald Bell Senior Editor / How To
Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.
Donald Bell
2 min read

Photo of the iAudio E2 MP3 player from Cowon.
The iAudio E2 from Cowon offers an interesting alternative to the iPod Shuffle. Hey, at least it has buttons. Cowon America

Is the iPod Shuffle just a little too boring for you? If you like your MP3 players small, cheap, and stylish, but prefer actual buttons to Apple's odd headphone-clicker voice navigation, the iAudio E2 from Cowon may be just the thing--that is, once someone can explain to us how it works.

On sale for the first time today, the 4GB iAudio E2 is priced at $64.99 from Jetmall. The key-ring-shaped MP3 player is 1 inch wide by 2.5 inches tall by and 0.3 inch thick, and is meant to be worn on a necklace. Like the iPod Shuffle, the E2 is an audio-only device, but tackles a different range of audio formats (MP3, WMA, FLAC, Ogg, WAV).

Like most MP3 players out of Cowon, the real clincher is audio quality. A total of 8 JetEffect audio enhancement presets are included (BBE, BBE VIVA, BBE VIVA2, BBE Mach3Bass, BBE MP, BBE Headphone, BBE Headphone2, BBE Headphone3) to squeeze your music for all its worth. A built-in voice guide is used to browse and select from the sound enhancement presets.

It all sounds great in theory, but there's no telling how well the E2's navigation works until we get our hands on it. At least it looks like there are a few real buttons, which might make up for the confusing hieroglyphics on the front. Right off the bat, though, I have to say that 11.5 hours of battery life isn't exactly dazzling. Also, lack of AAC support is going to be hard to swallow for iPod expats.